October 3rd, 2007

Mile End’s Country Hotel

Posted in Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History by Christopher DeWolf

mileendhotel.jpg

Mile End once had its very own country inn. There was a Mile End hotel and tavern as early as 1815, when one of its regulars, an English businessman and landowner named Stanley Bagg, made a number of references to it in some ads he placed in the Gazette.

It’s likely that the hotel you see above is a descendant of that early inn. Built in 1850 at the corner of what is now St. Laurent and Bernard, I like to imagine that it was one of those out-of-town spots where you could hitch your horse, get a beer and find a room for a night. Whoever built it must have been awfully grateful in 1882 when, less than a block from the hotel, the CPR built Mile End Station. Over the next couple of years, every train heading west to the Prairies passed through Mile End.

I know very little about the history of the hotel in the twentieth century, although its ground floor remained a tavern. Alas, as happens all too often, this unassuming but historically remarkable building burned down sometime in the 1990s. The top photo you see was taken around 1985; the bottom one in 2007. It would be nice if a longtime Mile End resident could share some information about this building.

(Incidentally, does anyone know why the lot has remained vacant for so long?)

The before-and-after photo was created, as usual, by Guillaume St-Jean. I’m happy to say that Guillaume has joined Spacing Montreal as a contributor, so be sure to check it out for regular dispatches from Montreal’s past.


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4 comments

  1. slutsky says:

    Awesome entry!

    October 4th, 2007 at 10:51 am

  2. Justin Bur says:

    Almost a year late! Fortunately history never goes out of fashion. :-)

    Both of these hotels are mentioned in the “Main milendoise” walking tours given by the Amis du boulevard Saint-Laurent and Mémoire du Mile End each summer.

    It’s a bit of a stretch to link Stanley Bagg’s Mile End Tavern (at the corner of Mont-Royal and Saint-Laurent) with the Mile End CPR hotel on the corner of Bernard. The closest likely link is just that they both served Mile End during the last quarter of the 19th century. There were also other hotels located between these two.

    The Mile End Tavern/Hotel ceased operating around 1900. It was demolished about 1904, replaced by the Mount Royal Departmental Store in 1906. This building (somewhat modified) is still standing today on the NW corner, home to the Sara restaurant and the CLSC.

    The railway was built in 1876 and Mile End station and the adjacent hotel opened in 1878 (not 1882). From the beginning it was intended as the railway hotel. (Unless the building was a converted farmhouse, it cannot have been built as early as 1850. Is that date a guess, or is it documented?)

    The station itself was rebuilt larger around 1913 but it closed for good in 1931, replaced by Park Avenue Station a short distance to the northwest. Thus ended Mile End’s 45 glorious years in the train timetable from Montreal to Vancouver. The station building survived into the 1960s, but was gone by the time (perhaps because) of the construction of the Rosemont-Van Horne viaduct.

    At some point the hotel became a brasserie, then by the end of the 80s it closed. One of those fires that just “accidentally” happen in abandoned buildings carried it off not long afterwards. No idea why nothing has been built there since. The surroundings are likely to see major redevelopment in the next few years (Saint-Viateur Est project) and perhaps something will finally happen with the lot.

    September 8th, 2008 at 1:47 am

  3. Justin Bur says:

    (Oops, the glorious years of Mile End station ended around the turn of the 20th century, as the transcontinental was rerouted to terminate at Windsor Station. For its last 30-odd years of operation, Mile End served destinations no more distant than the Outaouais and the Laurentians.)

    September 8th, 2008 at 2:00 am

  4. Justin Bur says:

    Followup on my old comments…

    The new station building opened in May 1911, closed November 1931. It was demolished in August 1970.

    The date of 1913 which crops up from time to time, including in my old comment, is the construction date for the adjacent Frontenac Brewery seen in the best-known picture of the station.

    The “C.P.R. Hotel” story is told in detail here: http://memoire.mile-end.qc.ca/?p=1169&lang=en

    February 25th, 2014 at 11:59 am