Photographer's Note

At the end of the 19th century, the area around de la Gauchetière and St-Laurent was populated by English, Irish, French Canadians, and some Jews. St-Laurent was called St. Lawrence the Main, and was a major commercial street. Almost all immigrant groups spent time in this area. Only the Chinese have remained.

During the 1940s, this was the seamiest side of the city. One columnist wrote "whether you're looking for a gal or gun, haircut or a hustler, a hock shop or a hamburger–you'll find it on St. Lawrence boulevard. The area stagnated for decades. However, there have been many positive changes in the past few years. Vietnamese and new immigrants from Hong Kong have taken over much of St-Laurent between Viger and René-Lévesque. On Sundays, the district has a marvellous bazaar-like atmosphere. Grocers extend their stores onto the sidewalk with fresh fruits, imported canned goods, and crates of thousand-year-old eggs (actually, eggs which have been potted for about a month). On festival days such as the August Moon, there are dragon dances, martial arts demonstrations, games of Chinese chess, and of course, firecrackers."

The Dart Coon Club is upstairs at 1972 St-Laurent. This organization is now a social club but was once part of the military arm of a now-defunct political group based in China known as the Free Mason Society. The Chinese Free Masons were not linked to the international fraternal movement of Free Masons.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, speculators purchased old buildings and demolished them and vacant land became parking lots waiting for an attractive offer. Revival of Montreal's Chinatown started in the 1980s with the installation of a pedestrian mall on de la Gauchetière and construction of the Catholic Community Centre and a senior citizens' home. Chinese Montrealers live throughout the city and suburbs; Chinatown, centred at de la Gauchetière and St-Laurent, remains the heart of the community and has attracted a new generation of Asian developers.

Today, French, English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese are commonly heard in stores in Chinatown as well as Chinese provincial dialects like Fu-chian and Chao-chun. It's not unusual to see Canadian festivals celebrated in the area, with green fortune cookies on St. Patrick's Day or pink bean curd hearts on Valentine's Day.

I was in Montreal earlier this week for a medical conference and the weather was cold, rainy and windy the whole time but what do you expect in October in Canada? I hear it cleared up the day after I left, LOL!!

saintclaude, john_c, bazal, alejandroguzman has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Alli Hemingway (annagrace) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 537 W: 27 N: 443] (2467)
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