It’s interesting to know the past lives of buildings we take for granted. Last week, I picked a few Montreal Street addresses that I had learned about from city directories and school censuses and took a walk to find what they look like these days.
159 Montreal is listed as a residential home through the 20s and 30s. But in the 50s, it was the practice of physician Dr. James Gibson. With most people in the neighbourhood working blue collar jobs, this is the only doctor I’ve come across in my research.
210 Montreal was the Blaney family home. Earl J. Blaney ran his barbershop out of this house in the 1960s while raising eight children with his wife, Megan. Earl and Megan’s children still live in the area and run the flower shop on the ground floor of this house.
This magnificent house, at 213 Montreal, takes up the entire corner lot, and also has the address 51 Raglan. In the 1920s and 30s Zangwell Handler ran a grocery store here. You can still faintly see the letters “Handler” on the Raglan Street side. In 1943 the Dodds, Peters, Noyes, and Deano families lived here with their kids Lavern, Lyle, Marjorie, Leona, Bernice, Jean, Fred, Mildred, Frances, Florence, Connie, Harold, Herbert, Doreen, and Wannita. Yes, that’s fifteen all together — and there were probably younger ones too not listed on the school census! In 1948, the corner part was KM Begg’s grocery store, and by 1958 it was Shamrock Grocery. In 1968 the part on the left became Henry’s Lunch, owned by the Jung family. In the 70s they expanded it to New Henry’s Restaurant, a favourite spot for Chinese food in the neighbourhood until it closed in 2012.
This is 224 Montreal street. Mike and Mary Chepizak moved into this house in the 1930s, and Mike Chepizak ran a shoe repair shop here. Their daughter Kathleen or Katie still lives here: you may have seen her sitting out front on nice days watching the passing parade.
286 Montreal street was the location of Louis Sebesta’s butcher shop in the 1950s and 60s. The Sebestas also lived in this house, even after Louis retired.
303 Montreal has a history of grocery stores before it became Laverne’s Laundry. During the 30s and 40s, it was Doyle’s Meat Market. Around 1958 it became Cecil’s Market — run by the brother of George Bennett, the owner of Bennett’s Food Market around the corner on Bagot. We hear that it has new owners who plan to turn it into a café — called Laverne’s, we hope!
As these little snippets show, Montreal street as a commercial thoroughfare has had many rich lives. We have a lot yet to learn, not only about the twentieth century here, but the nineteenth: these are all old buildings. Let us know if you have any information to share, questions to ask, or help to offer!
— Lauren Luchenski