Old Montreal’s heritage is far from frozen in time; it is diverse, alive, and can be experienced every day. Discover portraits of timeless buildings, each one a page of history proposed by Heritage Montreal as part of a special collaboration with the SDC Vieux-Montréal.
With a vast selection of merchandise available to residents of villages, towns and cities, the traditional general store was not only a place for the trading and retail sale of goods; it was also ideal for socializing. It was where you shopped for wares, asked for advice on a purchase, and got caught up on all the gossip! But where are they now? Read on to learn about three buildings in Old Montreal whose heritage is directly or indirectly linked to these charming small businesses.
In 1822, Pierre Berthelet had his home built by stonemason and contractor Joseph Godard, a.k.a. Lapointe. Originally designed as two three-storey cut-stone houses, the property underwent many alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was during renovations in the 1840s that it took on its typical “residence/store” appearance, with classically designed shop-front windows on the ground floor. At the time, instead of the top storey you see today (which was added in 1908), it was topped by a sloping roof pierced by dormer windows, with a Victorian-inspired decorative lintel. Shuttered windows were added to the façade later in the 20th century.
Today, Le P’tit Dép is easily recognizable by its lively aquamarine colour scheme. Doing double duty as a take-out café, it’s far more than a traditional convenience store.
In 1869, François Alfred Chartier Larocque had a four-storey cut-stone store-warehouse built on the south side of Saint-Paul Street. If you look at the building from the De la Commune Street side, though, you’ll notice it now has an extra floor, and that its façade is much more understated than its neighbour’s. The building, featuring residential units on the upper floors and commercial spaces on the ground floor and in the basement, underwent renovations in 1985 that restored the original store-warehouse aspect to its exterior. The Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal currently occupies the ground floor.
Another classic example of the store-warehouse is the building whose ground floor is currently occupied by a convenience store on Notre-Dame Street, once the Genin-Trudeau store-warehouse. Built in 1868, the four-storey greystone has a classically inspired façade and is topped by a bracketed cornice. As for its original name, it comes from the company Genin, Trudeau & cie (formerly Sieyes et Genin Cie), which moved into the entire premises in 1898, later buying the building in 1909. It remained there until 1970, when it moved production to Boucherville.