Checkers: Harbinger of Summer

I have lived all of my 56 years on a street that borders a lovely park. On average I would imagine I have visited the park at least once a day. It plays a major role in my life. Smack in the centre of the park is a game area. After a couple of decades of disrepair it seems some signs of life have emerged.

As a boy a sure sign of the arrival of summer was the appearance of a green shack in the game area. This small wooden hut housed the equipment used in the various games. Horseshoes for tossing on the four sand-filled pits, shuffleboard discs and cue-sticks, large checkers made of wood, both red and black and the hooks used to move them on the big boards that were inlaid in the concrete.

CheckerTable

There was a time when the pleasant summer evenings provided a perfect background for older men to engage in a ‘serious’ game of checkers. I never realized that there are competitive checker players, but now understand that several ‘ranked’ players played in the park. I met a man recently who used to play checkers in the park, but now laments the lack of players, claiming the Internet has killed the game.

An old checker board

An old checker board

The game area also provided a summer job for a local student. This person was responsible for maintaining the game equipment, cutting the peripheral grass and generally keeping the area clean. But their first job of the summer was to repaint the shuffleboard courts. Tape and a steady hand were required to redo the lines and numbers that had been lost to the snow over the long winter.

PingPong

I was pleased to notice as I was passing through the park yesterday that a new ‘checker table’ and chairs have been installed, as was as a heavy-duty ping-pong table (table tennis if you must). It is not quite what it once was, but then what is. Any new players will have to provide their own checkers, and the ping-pong table is on what used to be the shuffleboard courts, but it is still nice to see some life in the old game area.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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A Short History of Montreal’s Anglo/Irish Pubs

Here’s a re-post of a popular piece on Montreal’s Anglo/Irish pubs. Just in time for St. Patrick’s day! To see the original post, including many comments from former employees and patrons click here.


John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

Back when I was young, during the mid-seventies,  it seemed Montreal was awash with Anglo/Irish Pubs. There’s still a good number of them today including Hurley’s, McKibbin’s , The Irish Embassy and the Old Dublin to name but a few, but when I was cutting my drinking teeth there was a circuit of pubs in the western downtown area. They all had similar décor; after all, there’s only so much variation you can have on the theme. There was lots of brass and not much plastic,  easily cleaned concrete or tiled floors (no carpets, thanks), wood paneling and large tables for large groups (remember, this was a time when people bought drinks in “rounds” and managed to do so without having to mortgage their homes). The requisite dart boards, and very small stages, often just a raised area in the corner because floor space was at a premium.

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Not only was the appearance similar but the entertainment was pretty much the same, at least in style. Usually a duo playing what North Americans considered traditional Celtic pub songs including Farewell to Nova Scotia, Whiskey in the Jar and The Black Velvet Band (and I hope they got those seven old ladies out of the lavatory). The main house act played Thursday through Saturday nights but other acts filled in the rest of the week so there was never a night without live music.

Starting this trip down memory lane, moving east from Atwater Avenue, the first pub you came to was the Maidenhead Inn in Alexis Nihon Plaza featuring the piano magic of Goa, India’s own Ferdie Fertado who would leave Montreal after several years and move to Laguna Beach, California where he passed away about three years ago. The Maidenhead waitresses wore low-cut “wenches” outfits while serving bottled beer and mixed drinks.

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

That was another shared feature not only of the Anglo/Irish places, but all Montreal bars at that time; beer came in bottles. Draft beer on tap was served only in taverns (and later brasseries) and was a cheap lower quality beer produced by the breweries for the express purpose of taverns.

Moving along, on the south-east corner of Ste. Catherine and Lambert-Clossé streets (then referred to simply as Closse) adjacent to the Shell Station, was the Clover Leaf that would close and, for a very short time, become Molly Maguires. I’d let you know what the décor was like, but I don’t think I was ever inside.

Next up is the Grandfather of Montreal Anglo-style pubs, the Cock ‘N’ Bull. It is still a going concern today although its red-roof entrance is gone and the inside is slightly different as well. In its original state the bar, complete with embedded British coins, was located halfway along the  east wall, about 15 feet toward the back from its current position, placing it smack in front of the “stage”, which is now the darts corner.

Cock 'N' Bull Pub today

Cock ‘N’ Bull Pub today

The stage was an area about 5 square feet that would give any claustrophobic performer a fit as it was enclosed on three sides by patrons hooting, hollering and singing. (A strict “no dancing” rule was enforced to cut down on accidents.) I also assume they have gotten rid of the sign that read: “Free drinks for anyone over the age of 70 and accompanied by a parent”. In these days of increased longevity that could become expensive!

Late Sunday morning was brunch time at the Cock ‘n’ Bull and Sunday nights were Dixieland Jazz nights. But one of the most popular events was Monday’s Amateur Night. The late Ted Blackman wrote a great column on the amateur spectacular in The Gazette in May of 1974

On de Maisonneuve right across from Sir George Williams University’s (now Concordia) Henry F. Hall Building was the Fyfe and Drum (neither Anglo nor Irish but clearly Scottish). The building was torn down to make way for the Concordia Library, but in its day the Fyfe was, not surprisingly, a hang-out for students.

The old entrance to Finnegan's Irish Pub

The old entrance to Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Just a bit further east on de Maisonneuve in what has most recently been an entrance to Wanda’s Strip Club was Finnigan’s Irish Pub. It had been located on the top floor of the building, but by the time of the 1976 Olympics was a rowdy packed basement pub.

That summer of 1976 saw many bars filled to capacity and beyond as the world once again came to Montreal for the Olympics as it had in 1967 for EXPO 67. When I think back to evenings in Finnigan’s what comes to mind are the words fire trap.

Until a few years ago the Downtown YMCA building extended out over half of de Maisonneuve from Drummond to Stanley Streets. On the north side of de Maisonneuve not actually under the Y overhang, but in its shadow was the John Bull Pub. It was more of a Rock ‘n’ Roll place than traditional pub music. Except as the ad above shows they ran an amateur night on Monday’s as well, hosted by the ubiquitous Ferdie Fertado who clearly made the rounds.

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

On Drummond Street below Ste. Catherine Street in the basement of the Lasalle Hotel was the Irish Lancer. The Lancer’s bathrooms were outside the pub itself in a sort of lobby and were shared with guests of the hotel who were often confronted by drunk pub patrons.

On Peel Street just above Cyprus Street and the Windsor Hotel was the Hunter’s Horn. Given its location in the heart of downtown Montreal it attracted a more businessperson clientele – more suits than the other pubs. The upstairs lounge, or Parlor as it was called, was a bit up-market being carpeted and nicely appointed. It hosted the Montreal Press Club for several years.

 

HuntersHorn

UPDATE: During the recent renovation of Alexis Nihon shopping centre, I snapped a couple of shots of what was once the Maidenhead Inn but is now a delicatessen.

Left: Front door Right: Interior

Front door                                                                   Interior

Recently Elaine, who has commented on this post and let me know she worked at the Maidenhead Inn, sent me some pictures from her time there. With her permission I post them here. She also has an interesting online petition regarding Robin Hood’s Well in Nottingham; have a read and consider signing it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Rerun: Montreal’s History of Anglo/Irish Pubs

They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”.


John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

Back when I was young, during the mid-seventies,  it seemed Montreal was awash with Anglo/Irish Pubs. There’s still a good number of them today including Hurley’s, McKibbin’s , The Irish Embassy and the Old Dublin to name but a few, but when I was cutting my drinking teeth there was a circuit of pubs in the western downtown area. They all had similar décor; after all, there’s only so much variation you can have on the theme. There was lots of brass and not much plastic,  easily cleaned concrete or tiled floors (no carpets, thanks), wood paneling and large tables for large groups (remember, this was a time when people bought drinks in “rounds” and managed to do so without having to mortgage their homes). The requisite dart boards, and very small stages, often just a raised area in the corner because floor space was at a premium.

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Not only was the appearance similar but the entertainment was pretty much the same, at least in style. Usually a duo playing what North Americans considered traditional Celtic pub songs including Farewell to Nova Scotia, Whiskey in the Jar and The Black Velvet Band (and I hope they got those seven old ladies out of the lavatory). The main house act played Thursday through Saturday nights but other acts filled in the rest of the week so there was never a night without live music.

Starting this trip down memory lane, moving east from Atwater Avenue, the first pub you came to was the Maidenhead Inn in Alexis Nihon Plaza featuring the piano magic of Goa, India’s own Ferdie Fertado who would leave Montreal after several years and move to Laguna Beach, California where he passed away about three years ago. The Maidenhead waitresses wore low-cut “wenches” outfits while serving bottled beer and mixed drinks.

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

That was another shared feature not only of the Anglo/Irish places, but all Montreal bars at that time; beer came in bottles. Draft beer on tap was served only in taverns (and later brasseries) and was a cheap lower quality beer produced by the breweries for the express purpose of taverns.

Moving along, on the south-east corner of Ste. Catherine and Lambert-Clossé streets (then referred to simply as Closse) adjacent to the Shell Station, was the Clover Leaf that would close and, for a very short time, become Molly Maguires. I’d let you know what the décor was like, but I don’t think I was ever inside.

Next up is the Grandfather of Montreal Anglo-style pubs, the Cock ‘N’ Bull. It is still a going concern today although its red-roof entrance is gone and the inside is slightly different as well. In its original state the bar, complete with embedded British coins, was located halfway along the  east wall, about 15 feet toward the back from its current position, placing it smack in front of the “stage”, which is now the darts corner.

Cock 'N' Bull Pub today

Cock ‘N’ Bull Pub today

The stage was an area about 5 square feet that would give any claustrophobic performer a fit as it was enclosed on three sides by patrons hooting, hollering and singing. (A strict “no dancing” rule was enforced to cut down on accidents.) I also assume they have gotten rid of the sign that read: “Free drinks for anyone over the age of 70 and accompanied by a parent”. In these days of increased longevity that could become expensive!

Late Sunday morning was brunch time at the Cock ‘n’ Bull and Sunday nights were Dixieland Jazz nights. But one of the most popular events was Monday’s Amateur Night. The late Ted Blackman wrote a great column on the amateur spectacular in The Gazette in May of 1974

On de Maisonneuve right across from Sir George Williams University’s (now Concordia) Henry F. Hall Building was the Fyfe and Drum (neither Anglo nor Irish but clearly Scottish). The building was torn down to make way for the Concordia Library, but in its day the Fyfe was, not surprisingly, a hang-out for students.

The old entrance to Finnegan's Irish Pub

The old entrance to Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Just a bit further east on de Maisonneuve in what has most recently been an entrance to Wanda’s Strip Club was Finnigan’s Irish Pub. It had been located on the top floor of the building, but by the time of the 1976 Olympics was a rowdy packed basement pub.

That summer of 1976 saw many bars filled to capacity and beyond as the world once again came to Montreal for the Olympics as it had in 1967 for EXPO 67. When I think back to evenings in Finnigan’s what comes to mind are the words fire trap.

Until a few years ago the Downtown YMCA building extended out over half of de Maisonneuve from Drummond to Stanley Streets. On the north side of de Maisonneuve not actually under the Y overhang, but in its shadow was the John Bull Pub. It was more of a Rock ‘n’ Roll place than traditional pub music. Except as the ad above shows they ran an amateur night on Monday’s as well, hosted by the ubiquitous Ferdie Fertado who clearly made the rounds.

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

On Drummond Street below Ste. Catherine Street in the basement of the Lasalle Hotel was the Irish Lancer. The Lancer’s bathrooms were outside the pub itself in a sort of lobby and were shared with guests of the hotel who were often confronted by drunk pub patrons.

On Peel Street just above Cyprus Street and the Windsor Hotel was the Hunter’s Horn. Given its location in the heart of downtown Montreal it attracted a more businessperson clientele – more suits than the other pubs. The upstairs lounge, or Parlor as it was called, was a bit up-market being carpeted and nicely appointed. It hosted the Montreal Press Club for several years.

Childhood Revisited

HuntersHorn

UPDATE: During the recent renovation of Alexis Nihon shopping centre, I snapped a couple of shots of what was once the Maidenhead Inn but is now a delicatessen.

Left: Front door Right: Interior

Front door                                                                   Interior

Recently Elaine, who has commented on this post and let me know she worked at the Maidenhead Inn, sent me some pictures from her time there. With her permission I post them here. She also has an interesting online petition regarding Robin Hood’s Well in Nottingham; have a read and consider signing it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Bralessness: Political Statements and my Gripe with Madonna

In the Spanish town of Valladolid, residents are calling on the mayor to resign. The mayor  made some stupid comments on radio regarding not trusting women. “”Imagine you get into a lift and there’s a girl trying to get it on with you. She gets in the lift with you, takes off her bra and skirt, and then runs out screaming that you’ve tried to assault her”. This has resulted in some 500 bras being tied together and placed across the entrance to city hall.

BraChain

This is not the first time bras have been used to make a political statement. In the sixties, as a sign of emancipation women symbolically burned their bras. As a red-blooded heterosexual lad in my teens during the seventies, one of the more pleasant aspects of summer was the change in apparel adopted by many women. After a long Canadian winter in form-neutralizing coats and sweaters, ladies once again sported shape by wearing much lighter outfits. And perhaps the most important of these wardrobe changes was the appearance on the hot streets of Montreal of bra-less women. The first robin, the popping-up of buds on trees and the first glimpse of moving breasts were all harbingers of summer.

Braless

Yep … halter-tops, tube-tops and the old classic plain white T-shirt all donned without the encumbrance of a brassiere and allowing a natural movement! Not for me those Victorian corsets and bodices that pulverized a woman’s breasts together and jammed them northward until even she had to stand on a ladder to see over them. Let ‘em be natural I say. A little movement, or, frankly, a lot,  is much more natural to this blogger’s eye than the straight jacket approach. And I wasn’t alone, even WonderBra, maybe fearing their product was doomed, designed an almost non-bra which they advertised with the slogan “”Let it be Dici or Nothing”. According to the company’s website, “In 1974 Dici by WonderBra was introduced to meet the needs of young women looking for “less bra.” The Dici or Nothing TV commercial features this first seamless moulded garment.”

But then along came Madonna and, paradoxically given her penchant to the steamier side of entertaining over the years, it was all over. Ruined completely by her showing the world that it was okay to wear underwear as outerwear! All of a sudden women who wouldn’t wear tops that had to be worn sans bra because the straps would show, were wearing them and to hell with straps and clips showing. If Madonna can do it, so can I seemed to be the rallying call.

Madonna

This, of course, defeated the entire purpose of the classic camisole, and tank-top. For we young fellows, the raison d’etre of these items was to, well, allow for some sway. Air conditioning only added to the look! But no, this new acceptance of lingerie as a front-line garment instead of being relegated to the second merely functional level, was to us akin to a woman buying a string bikini and wearing it over a sweat-suit. In essence, why bother.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Spring Break Used to be Easter

They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it!

I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.
When I was a kid, Spring Break was Easter, four days that involved at least some time in church and definitely no wet T-shirt or beer drinking contests.

As I stepped out of my apartment building this morning I found myself wondering if I had the day wrong. I was setting off on my weekday morning run – something I’ve been doing for more years than a care to remember, but my knees will let you know – but I had to check to see that it wasn’t Sunday. The street was deserted; all was quiet, peaceful even. What was this? No kids shouting, no delivery trucks double-parked and bothering drivers. Then it hit me – Spring Break had arrived. What a misnomer that is when you consider that the temperature with the wind chill factored in as about -28C today.

When I was going to school we started on the Tuesday after Labor Day, had a day off at Canadian Thanksgiving (in October), then nothing until we broke up for Christmas. On December 23rd we left school and didn’t return until January 7th – the day after Epiphany. Ahead of us was the long stretch until Good Friday with no scheduled holidays. All our hopes were pinned on a few snow days to break the everlasting winter. At Easter we had a four-day weekend; Good Friday and Easter Monday sandwiching the Easter Weekend. Then it was Victoria Day around May 24th followed by the home-stretch to June 23rd and summer.

T-Shirt

Wet T-Shirt contestants shiver

For me as a kid, Spring Break was Easter, four days that involved at least some time in church and definitely no wet T-shirt or beer drinking contests. Even when I was at university I was too early to take advantage of Study Week; alas, it was implemented just a couple of years after I graduated. (Somehow I don’t think that ‘Study’ part fooled anyone!)

Now Spring Break is de rigueur at all levels of education and drives millions of dollars in tourism to ski hills and beach resorts alike. Some schools even have a two-week break, but that’s a bit much, I’d rather plug away and finish in time to enjoy our all too short summer.

Hope you all have a safe Spring Break. Even if I am a little jealous!

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

The sacrilege of going back to school in August

August Blues indeed …


“Will I get that marine-wannabe lunatic for phys ed?” “Will Mrs. So-and-so be sober this year?” “Is he back, I thought he had a breakdown?”

Back when I was young the new school year started on the Tuesday after Labour Day. “Summer” consisted of those days between the last day of school and the day after Labour Day; this was a school-free period – sacrosanct. Even after many years the thought of attending classes in August still just doesn’t seem quite right somehow. There was a clear definition of the end of summer; Labour Day Monday. Back to school sales were not seen until mid-August, certainly in not mid-July, something that both teachers and students now find repugnant. I’m no longer at school, haven’t been for some time, but the return to school affects many more than just students. Traffic picks up and even the business world gets back to normal operations with the vacation season over.

JerryEdThat holiday Monday was spent preparing yourself mentally for another long school year – or just being plain miserable. The soundtrack to this day of preparation and pain, playing in the background, was the annual Jerry Lewis Labour Day muscular dystrophy telethon. Jerry and Ed McMahon anchored the event in Las Vegas that, along with raising millions of dollars, eased us out of the lazy summer days and into fall. Even if the weather continued to be warm, perhaps hot at times, once Jerry had sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone“, and cried, and Ed announced that a new record amount had been raised -“timpani” – you knew it was all over. Now Ed has passed away, and Jerry’s been given the heave-ho for some reason and school starts in August. What the hell went wrong?

Continue reading

Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember

 

John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember calls upon bloggers to think back. Here’s a freestyle memory piece.

I remember…

… during the mid-seventies,  it seemed Montreal was awash with Anglo/Irish Pubs. There’s still a good number of them today including Hurley’s, McKibbin’s , The Irish Embassy and the Old Dublin to name but a few, but when I was cutting my drinking teeth there was a circuit of pubs in the western downtown area. They all had similar décor; after all, there’s only so much variation you can have on the theme. There was lots of brass and nt much plastic,  easily cleaned concrete or tiled floors (no carpets, thanks), wood paneling and large tables for large groups (remember, this was a time when people bought drinks in “rounds” and managed to do so without having to mortgage their homes). The requisite dart boards, and very small stages, often just a raised area in the corner because floor space was at a premium.

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Not only was the appearance similar but the entertainment was pretty much the same, at least in style. Usually a duo playing what North Americans considered traditional Celtic pub songs including Farewell to Nova Scotia, Whiskey in the Jar and The Black Velvet Band (and I hope they got those seven old ladies out of the lavatory). The main house act played Thursday through Saturday nights but other acts filled in the rest of the week so there was never a night without live music.

Starting this trip down memory lane, moving east from Atwater Avenue, the first pub you came to was the Maidenhead Inn in Alexis Nihon Plaza featuring the piano magic of Goa, India’s own Ferdie Fertado who would leave Montreal after several years and move to Laguna Beach, California where he passed away about three years ago. The Maidenhead waitresses wore low-cut “wenches” outfits while serving bottled beer and mixed drinks.

That was another shared feature not only of the Anglo/Irish places, but all Montreal bars at that time; beer came in bottles. Draft beer on tap was served only in taverns (and later brasseries) and was a cheap lower quality beer produced by the breweries for the express purpose of taverns.

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

Cock 'N' Bull Pub today

Cock ‘N’ Bull Pub today

Moving along, on the south-east corner of Ste. Catherine and Lambert-Clossé streets (then referred to simply as Closse) adjacent to the Shell Station, was the Clover Leaf that would close and, for a very short time, become Molly Maguires. I’d let you know what the décor was like, but I don’t think I was ever inside.

Next up is the Grandfather of Montreal Anglo-style pubs, the Cock ‘N’ Bull. It is still a going concern today although its red-roof entrance is gone and the inside is slightly different as well. In its original state the bar, complete with embedded British coins, was located halfway along the  east wall, about 15 feet toward the back from its current position, placing it smack in front of the “stage”, which is now the darts corner.

The stage was an area about 5 square feet that would give any claustrophobic performer a fit as it was enclosed on three sides by patrons hooting, hollering and singing. (A strict “no dancing” rule was enforced to cut down on accidents.) I also assume they have gotten rid of the sign that read: “Free drinks for anyone over the age of 70 and accompanied by a parent”. In these days of increased longevity that could become expensive!

Late Sunday morning was brunch time at the Cock ‘n’ Bull and Sunday nights were Dixieland Jazz nights. But one of the most popular events was Monday’s Amateur Night. The late Ted Blackman wrote a great column on the amateur spectacular in The Gazette in May of 1974

On de Maisonneuve right across from Sir George Williams University’s (now Concordia) Henry F. Hall Building was the Fyfe and Drum (neither Anglo nor Irish but clearly Scottish). The building was torn down to make way for the Concordia Library, but in its day the Fyfe was, not surprisingly, a hang-out for students.

The old entrance to Finnegan's Irish Pub

The old entrance to Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Just a bit further east on de Maisonneuve in what has most recently been an entrance to Wanda’s Strip Club was Finnigan’s Irish Pub. It had been located on the top floor of the building, but by the time of the 1976 Olympics was a rowdy packed basement pub.

That summer of 1976 saw many bars filled to capacity and beyond as the world once again came to Montreal for the Olympics as it had in 1967 for EXPO 67. When I think back to evenings in Finnigan’s what comes to mind are the words fire trap.

Until a few years ago the Downtown YMCA building extended out over half of de Maisonneuve from Drummond to Stanley Streets. On the north side of de Maisonneuve not actually under the Y overhang, but in its shadow was the John Bull Pub. It was more of a Rock ‘n’ Roll place than traditional pub music. Except as the ad above shows they ran an amateur night on Monday’s as well, hosted by the ubiquitous Ferdie Fertado who clearly made the rounds.

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

On Drummond Street below Ste. Catherine Street in the basement of the Lasalle Hotel was the Irish Lancer. The Lancer’s bathrooms were outside the pub itself in a sort of lobby and were shared with guests of the hotel who were often confronted by drunk pub patrons.

On Peel Street just above Cyprus Street and the Windsor Hotel was the Hunter’s Horn. Given its location in the heart of downtown Montreal it attracted a more businessperson clientele – more suits than the other pubs. The upstairs lounge, or Parlor as it was called, was a bit up-market being carpeted and nicely appointed. It hosted the Montreal Press Club for several years.

Ah … youth!

HuntersHorn

Daily Prompt:If I were a great lover of Puccini, would that make me a Fandom of the Opera?

Today’s Daily Prompt is Fandom. If I were a great lover of Puccini would that make me a Fandom of the Opera? But I digress …

Back when I was young, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team was expected to win. It was a foregone conclusion in many Montrealer’s minds that the Canadiens would win. The story goes that, so confident was he, long-time Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, in his annual planning briefing, would state “…and the Stanley Cup parade will take its usual route”. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the  Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup; a phrase I, at one time, never thought I’d hear, let alone write. (Currently the team is playing much better than hoped for, and an exciting, albeit truncated, season is providing Montreal fans with a taste of what used to be.)

MIKE BLAKE , REUTERS

Mike Blake , Reuters

Spectators didn’t go to the Montreal Forum to see the team play, root for them and hope for a successful outcome to the game. Nope, they went to see them win, much like an opera buff attending a performance at La Scala doesn’t hope for a stunning performance: he or she expects it. And God forbid anything less than stellar should be presented. Perhaps the stereotypical Montreal season ticket holder was a man who, sitting in the expense red seats, wore a jacket and tie to every game. He brought a newspaper to read during stoppages in play and during the intermissions. He took wins in stride but was angry, not disappointed, on those occasions when the team lost.

In 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Had you told a celebrating Toronto fan on that day that before the Leaf’s would win another Cup, the Toronto MLB franchise would win two World Series,  you would have been taken for an idiot.

The franchise was often compared to the New York Yankees and the word “dynasty” was never far away. Until 2001 the team had never gone more than seven years without a championship.

In 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Had you told a celebrating Toronto fan on that day that before the Leaf’s would win another Cup, the as yet non-existent Toronto Major League Baseball franchise (the Blue Jays) would win not one, but two World Series (’92 & ’93) you would have been taken for an idiot. However …

1966 Stanley Cup parade in Montreal

As I’ve explained elsewhere, the picture at right shows, by pure chance, the six-year old me attending the 1966 Stanley Cup Parade (or at least it shows my left ear). During my formative years, let’s say through my teens, the Montreal Canadiens won 11 Stanley Cups. That’s eleven championships before I had turned twenty. The year I was born, 1959, the Canadiens won the cup for the fourth time in a string of five – from 1956 to 1960.

During my younger years watching the Habs, they had some outstanding teams, but perhaps none so much as the 1976-77 version of the team that won 60 games out of an 80 game schedule. Even more impressive was the team’s home record of 33 wins, one loss and six tied games. Other than the Boston Bruins’ 4-3 victory over the Canadiens on October 30, 1976 the team did not lose another home game that season!

This is what I grew up with; this is what influenced my approach to the NHL and the Canadiens in particular. So now, with the Canadiens just another team – certainly no longer a dynasty, I can only wonder what went wrong? Maybe I should spend less time looking at the banners that hang above the ice in the BELL Centre and more time watching what’s on the ice.

But it’s just not the same.

Back When I Was Young: Movie theatres were BYOF

Today’s Daily Prompt: Modern asks whether we are comfortable being citizens of the 21st century. From time to time I post about “Back when I was young”; this isn’t to say that I’m not comfortable in my current time and place, but I think many people (sadly not all) occasionally yearn for the time of their youth. Here’s an example of a post dealing with how the movie-going experience has changed.

 
They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”.
I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.

Back when I was young, like many kids we used to go to the movies. Montreal, as was the case in most cities, had its share of movie theatres – we Anglophones didn’t call them cinemas, to us they were movie theatres. These often elaborately designed single-screen theatres showed films every night and had matinees on the weekends and during school holidays. I recall the price being 75 cents before seven o’clock at which time the cost of admission shot up to a whopping $1.25! For that princely sum you were treated to a cartoon – usually Blake Edwards‘ Pink Panther which could be used in both French and English theatres as there was no dialogue – in addition to the main feature.

But that’s not the issue, the price of everything has gone up over time, it’s just what happens. As I recall things, the admission fee  got you into the theatre to see the movie. There were, of course, snack bars where you could buy soft drinks, popcorn, candies and chips. But these were just for convenience because many people, perhaps most, brought their own snacks to the movie. I’m not talking about smuggling in contraband Twizzlers or Reese’s Pieces, sneaking past ushers who look like they want to pat down movie goers. The goodies we brought to the theatre were most welcome, after all you had paid your admission. It was a movie theatre, not a restaurant – it was a Bring Your Own Food establishment

Dunkin Donuts logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many’s the time we would bring in, openly and honestly, a box of a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts and  Dairy Queen milkshakes. Others brought submarine sandwiches or even hamburgers. Some folks even made special snacks at home and, along with a thermos of coffee settled in to enjoy the movie and munch on a ham on rye.

These days the film is almost an afterthought; once you get past the vast array of food on offer at exorbitant prices and run the gamut of the umpteen video games in the lobby, you can finally settle down to watch the feature.

Long gone are the days when movie theatres were in the business of selling admission to films and providing convenience snack bar counters, but were BYOF!

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Back when I was young: Bartenders were artists

This week the Weekly Writing Challenge encouraged the use of pagination for longer posts. I thought it a good opportunity to publish one of my longer posts that falls into the “Back When I was Young” category.


They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”.

I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.


BottleGuardianWith the Grand Prix in town last weekend I thought I’d go downtown and take in a little of the ambiance.  While there I stopped in for a beer at a longstanding Crescent Street pub.  It’s  been some years since I was last in this particular bar, so you may understand I  was bowled over when I found out the standard bottle of beer I had been enjoying was going to cost me $8.00. The waitress told me they didn’t up the price for the weekend Grand Prix events but I’m still not sure about that.

I was going to point out that he’s a bartender and at one time drinking was part of the job but thought better of it.

Repairing to a much nicer spot one street over I was pleased to pay a significantly more reasonable price for a pint of draft. As I was sipping away I was watching the bartender going full-out to keep up with demands when I noticed that every time he prepared a drink he had to slip the bottle into a black collar thing that issued a measured amount. After a little while I asked him about it and he explained that all drinks had to be monitored in this way both for inventory and to keep track of things in general. No more free pouring I asked.  He looked at me like I had just asked if the war was over and said that was a thing of the past. Before leaving I thanked him for the information and offered to by him a drink. No thanks, he said, I don’t drink while I’m working. I was going to point out that he’s a bartender and at one time drinking was part of the job but thought better of it.