Montreal’s Chinatown in 1984

Boulevard St-Laurent 1984

I almost had to twist my father’s arm to get these photos onto Flickr, but it was well worth it. Since Boxing Day, he has been busy scanning our family slides, including some pictures of Montreal Chinatown back in 1984. The first photo is showing the block on St-Laurent, below De La Gauchetière, where the Hong Kong Chinese rôtisserie and deli currently stands, just minus the open flight of stairs serving the basement floor. The second floor restaurant Joy Inn (in standard “Chinese font”) was advertising dim sum servings for only 85 cents, and next door gift shop Wah Fung was already in business, with a cartoon Bruce Lee on the sign hanging above its entrance.

Hong Kong already existed in 1984, but was actually a grocery store on De La Gauchetière, between St-Laurent and St-Dominique, recalls my father. The shop belonged to the 馬 (Ma) family, that also owned the Kowloon fish and meat shop nearby. Both shops were on the right-hand side of the street on the next photo, and relocated on St-Laurent a couple of years later, when my childhood memories finally catch up to.

Rue de la Gauchetière au Chinatown 1984

1984 was also the year that saw the inauguration of two new housing projects in Chinatown, one on St-Urbain and Dorchester (now René-Lévesque) and another on St-Dominique and De La Gauchetière. On the other hand, other construction projects, such as “Centre Chinatown” (see next photo), beyond the current emplacement of Chinatown’s eastern gate, never saw the light and disappeared from people’s imagination.

Rue de la Gauchetière et Rue Anderson 1984

Une version française de cet article est publiée sur le blogue Comme Les Chinois.

3 comments

  1. Very cool! This is pure speculation, but I think the reason “Centre Chinatown” was never developed was because the city rezoned the area east of St. Dominique as exclusively residential sometime in 1984, thereby preventing it from being built.

    I also notice that Kenneth Cheung is listed as the contact person for the development. He was a very prominent businessman and spokesperson for the Chinese community in the 80s and early 90s. Apparently he even ran for mayor.

  2. Indeed, my parents mentioned the bit about Kenneth Cheung running for mayor back in the days.

    Kate of Montreal City Blog wrote an entry on her blog yesterday about this article and mentions the beautiful historical photos of Chinatown taken by Montrealer Ben Soo in the mid-eighties.

    Looking at this picture, I recall that my parents also said something about the Hong Kong (seen here directly at the corner of St-Dominique / De la Gauchetière) burning down before relocating… I see in this picture that a Hong Kong _restaurant_ indeed existed. My parents did mention that the new building with the Tong Por restaurant was rebuilt at the same location after the fire. Presumably, Ben Soo’s picture was taken after my father’s, or the reconstruction was surprisingly quick!

  3. Nice to see all these pics. Restaurant/Rotisserie “Hong Kong” is my favorite Before, it’sbeen the “Deer Garden” close to the Lebanese grocery “Main” and the former 2Ecole de theatre”. Try to make a phographic report on the Montreal Chinatown. On wheelchair I can’t do it anymore.

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