After Rue Amherst, our number two priority in Montreal was to survey Notre-Dame West where about 25 antique dealers trade wares ranging from 20th century kitsch (Retro-Ville, No. 2652) to sublime 18th, 19th and 20th century rarities (Milord, above and below, No. 1870).
The so-called Quartier des Antiquaires de Montreal (Antiques Quarter) exhausted us, there was just so much to see. Apparently there used to be even more dealers but the renewal of the nearby Lachine Canal in the 1990s jump-started a wave of gentrification that has pushed rents up and antiques out.
Our stroll took us into one such shop in the final days of a closing sale. As I questioned the owner about the neighbourhood’s transition he became emotional and said, “No more questions, please.” I felt awful for having touched such a raw nerve; for many dealers the antiques business isn’t just their livelihood it’s their life.
At Y. Phillipe Harvey Antiques (No. 2518), above left, owner Yvon Philippe explained that his strategy for combating the rising rent was to expand into the lighting trade, a move that has effectively doubled his square footage by allowing him to use as much of the ceiling as possible. Grand Central (No. 2448), another chock-a-block shop just down the road, takes a similar approach; the magnificent reticulated brass pendant, above right, is priced at $4,500.
I wasn’t aware of how close the lighting made the shops feel until we stepped into Antiquités L’Ecuyer (No. 1896) where a welcome sense of space greeted us like a deep, rejuvenating breath. Shop owner André L’Ecuyer specializes in walking sticks (above) and vintage luggage, and like so many of the dealers on Notre-Dame, he does a significant rental business supplying props to film and TV productions. The set of six 1940s Globe-Trotter cases, below right, is priced at $2,000, about the cost of a single new case (the company is still very much in business).
We especially enjoyed the expansive Antiquités Beaulé (No. 2440) below, with their remarkable selection of high quality furnishings, lighting and decorative pieces. There was a striking seven-foot tall Coromandel screen at the back of the shop that left Mike and I agog.
We were charmed by the lovely Céline Tremblay, proprietress of Trusquin (No. 2658), a small but pretty shop specializing in reproduction French furniture in a range of colours like the beautiful blue commode, below right. Céline also carries decorative pieces like the marble bust, below left.
Close by is Pierre St-Jacques Antiques (No. 2205), below, featuring the loveliest windows on the street.
One of our best encounters was at Atelier de Restauration (No. 2509) where craftsman and owner Ricardo Castreje, below left, took the time to explain French polish and show us some of his remarkable reproductions and restorations. Trained in his native Argentina, Ricardo has done work all over the world including for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The 18th century commode, below right, was literally in pieces when Ricardo got it, even the marble top was smashed into chunks. Incredible work!
You can approach the Notre-Dame stroll from the west, beginning at the justifiably famous Atwater Market, or from Rue Guy in the east. We kicked things off from the north, starting on Rue Atwater at Rowntree (see yesterday’s post) and the new Ambiance Eclektic (762 Rue Atwater) where partners Angie and Ewa won us over with stories about their inventory including the Victorian garden gnomes ($650 pair) and fawn ($1,250) below. The shop is also Montreal’s exclusive dealer of Briwax, a U.K. line of woodworking repair and renewal products that I’ll be blogging about next week.
I shot 141 images on our stroll, far too many to squeeze into a single blog post, but I couldn’t wrap this up without including one of my favorite images, below, a mantle vignette from Old Times Antiques, a beautiful shop with some exquisite European pieces including a number of extremely good Venetian Blackamoors. Tomorrow, I’ll show you the other side of Notre-Dame, the hip, trendy side.