Montreal Street Then & Now
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
This is so cool! 🙂 Thanks for writing about my neighbourhood. I walk past all those places every day. It’s neat to learn about the history.
I LOVE this! Keep writing about this neighbourhood. So much history! I’d love to know how to find out the history of an address. Any tips?
The Kingston City Directories are a wealth of information and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library has them in their Special Collections. They were published every year or every couple of years, so you can trace the history of specific addresses or people. Just look for your number under your street!
I’ve always been interested in the history of old houses, always been an “if these walls could talk” kind of person. Several of these buildings are much older than the history that’s been covered in this post, especially 286. I don’t know from any research, but just looking at it tells me it’s well over 100 years old.
Oh and sorry, just to clarify, I’m not being critical here. The person that posted this obviously did their homework, and it’s a job well done. One would have to write a book to be able to cover the entire history of some of these places!
You are quite right there is a longer history and maybe as we build a volunteer base we can delve into it. I’m often curious about who built these places and for what purpose. But right now we’re focussing on the 20th century because we have living sources for it, because people are so interested, and because Kingston has generally focussed on the 19th century and we want to correct that imbalance. We were thinking of having a workshop on “how to research Kingston history” — does that sound like a good idea?
There were many corner stores in this neighbourhood. I believe Lights (corner store) was across the street from Blaney’s. Also Mrs. Blaney had a hair salon on the Raglan Road side of the building. Devines was on the corner of Raglan Road and Bagot Street and you can still see the shoe polish add on the back of that building. Birds was on the corner of North and Bagot Street as well. Did you know that across from Sebesta’s was McDonalds Shoe Store run by Tommy McDonald back in the 60’s. Grew up in this neighbourhood many places have closed now but it was a booming part of town at one time.
Sorry I wasn’t clear about Blaney’s, I meant Mrs. Blaney ran a hair salon on Raglan Road on the other side of the current Blaney building, Barber Shop on Montreal Street side for the men and Hair Salon for the ladies on the Raglan Road side.
My great-grandmother Maria lived at 338 Montreal with her second husband William Yates and their combined family. I believe they moved there after their marriage in 1911, and lived there until she died in 1920. I visited the area when I was there a couple of years ago, and it appears to be a law office now, although I’m not sure it is the same building.
I was very familiar with the Montreal Street area while growing up on Chestnut Street, plus having relatives on Markland street who I would visit.Family operated businesses could be found on many neighborhood streets throughout Kingston but Montreal street always left me with the impression that it was like a village and therefore warranted the businesses that could be found there.It’s surprising how many family operated grocery stores allowed customers to run a tab between pay days.I’ve enjoyed looking at your site it’s very interesting and informative.
Loved these notes and pictures of Montreal St. in the past. I remember many things and buildings of the street when I lived in Kingston in the 1940-56 era.
My fathers family and my mothers family all lived on Montreal street.
My Grandparents Bob & Grace Jamieson on my Mom’s side and she (Jean) had 11 siblings Helen, Harold, Marian, Don, Alice, Arthur, Stanly, Dorothy, John, Ruth and Bud. They lived at 282 Montreal St. and they also owned 284 Montreal where my uncle Stan ran the famous Stadium Lunch. I have been told by many people, he made the best fish & chips this side of London England.
My Dad’s family lived at 204 Montreal St. and after my Dad’s fathers passing, my uncle Don Belwa took over the family home and raised 4 children.
My father (Keith) had 3 brothers Doug, Don, Jack.
I have only fond memories of Montreal street and the many wonderful and colorful Swamp Ward residents.
Bless them all.
We lived on Ordnance, James (at Montreal St)), and Bay streets when our large family was growing up. We bought our groceries at Little Bennett’s on the cornet of Montreal & Charles Sts, changing to Cochrane’s when we moved to Bay St in 1958 or so… There were 63 children living in that one short block of Bay between Bagot & Rideau! Remember the Osborne’s, the Abrams family, the Tollers, the Manns and many more? Such fun to remember…
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