Mordecai, Mile End, Le Plateau and lot’s of heritage!

This is an amazing walk! We have chosen to highlight the great Canadian writer, Mordecai Richler, and his childhood neighbourhood of Mile End. The walk actually starts a little to the south in the district of Le Plateau and moves north into Mile End and then returns to the slopes of Mount Royal. It will not only cover key points of Mordecai, but, also the vibrant Jewish heritage that has given character and charm to this area. Many of Mordecai’s works were about these streets and people. Traditionally, this neighbourhood was and still is home to Jewish, French, Ukrainian, Greek and Portugese families. The first wave of Jewish immigrants came from Eastern Europe, today a large Hassidic community in Outremont borders with Mile End on the west. And on the eastern border of Mile End is a rapidly growing high-tech industry with many international companies specializing in computer gaming and artificial intelligence. Mile End is gentrifying in many respects, but, still maintains those corner shops, busy streets and old world charm. The restaurants and cafe’s are excellent, as are the famous bagels! We have included old buildings and alleys too, as these are all part of the experience.

C and D did this walk on both February 1st and 8th, 2020.

 

Google maps showing the Walk in two parts.

We started at the corner of St. Urbain and Prince Arthur Streets. Head north on St. Urbain and you will see the old Montreal Foundling and Baby Hospital.

Montreal Foundling and Baby Hospital (1892 to 1943), St. Urbain Street at north-west corner of Prince Arthur Street, it’s tucked away in a side alley not facing the street. This is where Mordecai’s wife, Florence, was brought as a baby in 1929 for adoption.

Walk north on St. Urbain and when you get to Pine Avenue, turn right and head west to St. Laurent Boulevard. You want to walk north on St. Laurent to this place below.

Schwartz’s – Charcuterie Hebraique (3895 Saint Laurent), opened in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Romanian Jew. Known for it’s renowned smoked meat sandwich…old fashioned smoked meat on rye bread with mustard.

 

If you just turn the corner at Napoleon and walk to the next block and look up…way up. You will see a mural of this Montrealer.

Amazing mural of Leonard Cohen. Painted during the Mural festival in 2017 by Kevin Ledo, this is nine stories tall.

Get back onto St. Laurent and continue walking north, at the corner of Bagg Street is the old Schubert Bath.

Schubert Bath (3950 Saint Laurent, corner Bagg Street), built in 1931. It was named after Joseph Schubert, Montreal’s first Jewish city councillor, serving from 1924 to 1939.

As you continue walking north along St. Laurent Boulevard, you will see some of these historic memory boards.

This one (on left) at 4040 Saint Laurent recalls the splendour of Fletcher’s Field (which we will see towards the end of the walk). The Museum of Jewish Montreal is located at this address.
(in middle) This historic memory board recalls Eagle Publishing Co., founded by Hirsch Wolofsky in 1907. It published Canada’s first Yiddish newspaper, ‘Keneder Adler’. (on right) Another historic memory board recalls the Steinberg grocery store. Founded in 1917 by Ida Steinberg on St. Laurent, it became a giant in the grocery store industry.

Continue north on St. Laurent, to the corner of Rue Rachel

Corner of Saint Laurent Boulevard and Rachel – looking south.

Parc des Ameriques – north east corner of Saint Laurent and Rachel.

Plaque detailing at Parc des Ameriques that this was Le Village de Saint-Jean-Baptist. Incorporated in 1861, it was annexed into Montreal in 1886. A large market stood here.

Walk west on Rachel, two blocks over to St. Urbain Street and head north to the old Baron Byng High School. Mordecai went to school here in the 1940’s.

Baron Byng High School (4251 St. Urbain) built in 1923. This is Mordecai’s “Fletcher’s Field High School”.

Baron Byng High School (4251 St. Urbain) built in 1923.
The school closed in 1980, was then occupied by Sun Youth, a non-profit community organization and is now empty.

Baron Byng High School yearbook – graduating class of 1948. Mordecai is in the centre, as President.

If you continue north to Rue Marie-Anne, turn right and head back to St. Laurent, stop at Parc du Portugal.

Parc du Portugal.

Corner of Saint Laurent and Rue Marie-Anne – looking north.

Continue the walk north on St.Laurent. Once you get to Mont-Royal Avenue, turn left and walk west to St. Urbain.

At the north east corner is Beauty’s diner, opened in 1942 by Hymie and Freda Sckolnick.

On the south east corner is a grocery store with an historic marker, commemorating the exact spot of the Arena Mont-Royal. The Montreal Canadiens played here in the 1920’s. And accompanied by a beautiful alley just off Mont-Royal Avenue.

If you walk north on St. Urbain, Bancroft School is on the east side.

Bancroft School (4563 St. Urbain) – built in 1915.

Walk Montreal also likes to explore alleys, and this alley runs right between St. Urbain and Clark Streets.
Montreal is a safe city, but, it’s always advisable to walk thru an alley with a companion in the daytime.

We walked thru the below alley for two blocks to Saint Joseph Boulevard, exited and turned right walking east to St. Laurent.

On the east side of St. Laurent, between St. Joseph’s Boulevard and Laurier Avenue is Parc Lahaie

Eglise Saint-Enfant-Jesus du Mile-End.

Marker recalling Le Village du Saint Louis du Mile-End.

Standing at the corner of St. Laurent and Laurier, looking west.

Montreal Fire Station 30 – built in 1905. The mural of Mordecai appears on the left.

“Hommage à Mordecai Richler” – mural by Dominique Desbiens (painter) and Bruno Rouyère (illustrator), produced by MU in 2016 – 19 Laurier Street West.

Looking south on St. Urbain from the corner of Laurier Avenue.

Walk one block west to Clark Street and walk north one block to Fairmount Avenue to Wilensky’s.

Wilensky’s Lunch Counter (34 Fairmount) – opened in 1932 by Moe Wilensky.

The interior has not changed since it opened. It was this interior that was in one of the scenes in the film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”.

Continue west on Fairmount for half a block and you will arrive at Fairmount Bagel.

Fairmount Bagle (74 Fairmount) – started in 1919 by Isadore Shlafman, this location opened in 1949.

This alley is right across the street from Fairmount Bagel. It runs north between St. Urbain and Clark, and goes right by the back of Mordecai’s childhood home. As a young boy, Mordecai would have walked thru these alleys many times, exploring and doing what young boys do.

Walk over to St. Urbain Street and head north, you will come to 5257, the address where Mordecai lived as a boy.

St. Urbain Street looking north.

Childhood home of Mordecai.

When you get to Saint Viateur Street, you will see The Church of St. Michael and St. Anthony.

The Church of St. Michael and St. Anthony – built in 1915.

Walk west on Saint Viateur Street to Park Avenue.

Corner St.Urbain and St. Viateur

Corner Jeanne-Mance and St. Viateur

St. Viateur Bagel (263 St.Viateur) – opened in 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz.

Alley going north south between Jeanne Mance and Park Avenue.

Corner of Park Avenue and St. Viateur

Walk north on Park Avenue for almost one block and you will see the Rialto Theatre.

Rialto Theatre (5723 Park Ave.)- built 1923-1924

Turn around and head south on Park Avenue (back the way you came) until you get to The Mordecai Richler Library.

The Mordecai Richler Library (5434 park Avenue) – previously The Church of the Ascension, built in 1904.

The Mordecai Richler Library

Continue to walk south on Park Avenue and you will pass by the old Regent Theatre.

Regent Theatre (5117 Park Ave.)- built 1915

Keep going south on Park Avenue until you reach the intersection of Mont-Royal Avenue. This is where Jeanne-Mance Park (originally Fletcher’s Field) and Mount Royal meet.

Corner of Mont-Royal and Park, with Mount Royal in distance.

On the east side of Jeanne Mance Park (Fletcher’s Field) is a water fountain commemorating the great skater Louis Rubenstein.

On Mont Royal Avenue across from the park is the original Young Mens Hebrew Association building (YMHA). Built in 1928 at 265 Mont Royal Ave.

The original Fletcher’s Field in winter

Walking south on Park Ave. looking up at Mount Royal.

Mordecai Richler gazebo on slopes of Mount Royal, rebuilt by city of Montreal to commemorate him.

If you wish to make your way up Mount Royal, you can get a great vantage point of Mile End from the Mount Royal Look Out on Voie Camillien-Houde Way (Belvedere Camillien-Houde).

The rooftops of Mile End !
Using the domed church in the foreground left, St. Urbain Street would be off to its right leading to bottom right corner of photo.

The resting place of Mordecai Richler and his loving wife, Florence in Mount Royal Cemetery. (courtesy of Martha Richler).
(a winter photo is pending)

“…so that eventually we may lie beside each other in death, as we lay so happily in life.”

Mordecai, Florence and their son Jacob. Wonderful picture of them walking. (courtesy of Martha Richler).

So often in life, they walked and talked.

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(with the exception of gravestone, family photo, high school photo and Duddy Kravitz ad)

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