Roger-Luc Chayer

It was at the end of last February that workers began the demolition of one of the most famous buildings of the Gay Village of Montreal, an icon for some, a monument for others. It was a long time ago, as the Bourbon Complex had been abandoned for a few years and had become a sad plague, which had a negative impact on Montréal’s image for both local residents and tourists enjoying the pedestrianization of the Rue Ste. Catherine Est. Formerly the flagship image of the Gay Village in the world, the Bourbon Complex has served to unite LGBT communities around a kind of cruise ship with a host of services and institutions. We came from everywhere to spend weekends or holidays.

First, there was the famous Sandwich Club, on the West side of the resort, which offered the largest portions of the country with fries at will, not to mention the access to very large terraces that made afternoons. have been unforgettable moments of relaxation and pleasure. Next door, you could eat in a real train wagon, on long benches, all decorated with beautiful woodwork in a relaxing and private atmosphere.

Going West, we crossed the entrance to the Bourbon Hotel which offered fifty modern and well decorated rooms, on two floors, with a concept of private terraces for several rooms. On the East side ended a smaller room sometimes serving as a bar, sometimes a glacier, according to the times. At the corner of Champlain and Ste-Catherine Streets, there was a sandy site that served as a beach and often as a volleyball court. Upstairs, on the roof of the Sandwich Club, there was even a chapel

celebrating the first civil unions and gay marriages, with the services of the famous Pastor Real Murray, now deceased. In the basement there were two huge bars. The situation of the complex was ideal. In front, there was the street Ste-Catherine East with its strong influx of day and night and behind, an alley serving huge terrace with dozens of tables overlooking Champlain Park and its generous greenery.

Unfortunately, as a result of the rental of the restaurants and the hotel to unscrupulous entrepreneurs who can not afford to operate these huge facilities in a cost-effective manner, the complex, designed and built from memories of trips to Las Vegas’s first owner, Normand Chamberland, has slowly fallen into disrepair, partially closing some premises to finish squatted and barricaded since 2016. As the building was not built at the base meeting all municipal and government standards, and as some materials did not comply with the legislation, it would have been difficult if not impossible to save what was known as a unique monument in the world.

Owned by a semi-government company in Qatar, the complex was demolished last month to make room for a new multi-storey building that will feature many condo units and several storeys of retail space. Good news, after all, which will certainly allow this corner of the Village to revive and that will bring to the neighborhood a new clientele very necessary for the survival of many businesses, but especially to revitalize a district that needs it!