Monday, January 10, 2022

The organ grinder outside of Morgan's Department Store

Here is the final memory of going downtown with my Auntie Mable. It is the organ grinder in front of Morgan's Department Store who I remember from one of those Saturday afternoon trips. I am still trying to find the passage in which the organ grinder is mentioned in a poem by Louis Dudek. 

This Morgan's Department Store was also called Colonial House, that would be the original building as shown below, not the newer wing attached to the rear of the store. Morgan's was founded in 1845 and sold to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1960, this flagship location became La Baie in 1972. Morgan's was the first large department store in Canada; it was also the first large Montreal department store to move to Ste. Catherine Street in 1891 and our commercial downtown area grew from that time on. 

The store is bound by Ste. Catherine Street, where the organ grinder stood outside of the store, Aylmer Street on the east, and Union Street on the west. What also interests me is Phillip's Square, across Ste. Catherine Street from the store, and the location of the original Arts Association of Montreal, later the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. 

There used to be a plaque commemorating Jefferson Davis's visit to Montreal, he stayed at the home of John Lovell, and the plaque was on Morgan's outside wall on Union Street where Lovell's home had been located; Davis stayed at Lovell's home in 1867. For reasons of political correctness the plaque was removed in 2017.

It seems that a twenty story condo and office building will be built on top of the old Morgan's building.

Morgan's Department Store, 1960s; Union Street and Ste. Catherine Street

Pushing his organ outside of Morgan's on Ste. Catherine Street West

The organ grinder in front of Morgan's

I am told he lived in a shed in Chinatown

Cartoon by John Collins

The organ grinder in the background

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