Neighbourhoods: Notre Dame Ouest Print E-mail
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Montreal's antique alley
Text and Photos by Lauralou Cicierski

antiquecanes3article.jpgNOT FAR FROM ATWATER MARKET, where freshness dictates quality, lies a renowned Montreal district where age, in all of its glory, kitsch and collectibility, reigns. Antique Alley that runs along Notre Dame Ouest from Rue de Lévis to Rue Guy is a kilometre long stretch of approximately 30 shops worthy of investing at least a Saturday and, at most, more than a few thousand dollars in a George II armoire (1727-1760).

With most shops opening after 10:30, the best time for antiquing is after brunch. Two excellent options just off Atwater are Quoi de N’Oeuf with its range of omelette specialties and Toi Moi et Café that offers an extensive menu of coffees and teas. For a divine hot chocolate head a few doors down to Café Lili & Oli.

If crammed full of collectibles appeals, your first stop has to be Retro-Ville. Marvel at the mechanics of antique toys and the ingenuity of copywriters at a time when print advertising was the only game in town. If your idea of antiquing falls a few centuries before Coca-Cola memorabilia, step next door into Céline Antiquaire for its small but unique selection of hand-picked European imports.

Make your way further east along the strip and you’ll eventually come to Grand Central on the south side. Offering an extensive selection of 19th and 20th century decorative pieces this store has a ceiling that drips with chandeliers. While the view above is spectacular, mind your step along the narrow aisles.

antiqueluggagemainpic.jpgPast rue Vinet, a hardware store, condos and a commercial mill dissect the alley but forge on. Just past rue Canning the antiquing picks up with a few twists on the traditional. Exceptional wood carving characterizes the Chinese antiques at Viva Galerie. Also showcased are the paintings of Xiaoyang Yu who emigrated from China to Montreal in 1992. His depictions of simple, daily life in Beijing breathe life into the functional and decorative pieces on display.

Just up the street, L’Ecuyer Antiques specializes in luggage, trunks and hand canes. Shark spines, tortoiseshell, ivory and glass were all used to sturdy a gait and add a touch of elegance. Look for the collection of shooting sticks with handles that fold out to provide a convenient rest stop for hunters awaiting a flush of game birds.

Tired antiquers will find Ambiance restaurant a convenient lunchtime stop with its appropriate antique decor and table settings. Once you’ve whetted your appetite for antique kitchenware, step into L’Atelier du Presbytère for cake pans, tin boxes and, most notably, antique French linens. Here small handmade sacks are ready to be filled with clearly labeled contents of “promises”, “silly things” and “kisses”. For labels of the ready to wear variety, make your way up to ERA Vintage Wear for a varied selection of designer clothing and accessories.

From fashionable to flamboyant, the entrance to Michel R. Richard Antiquaire is flanked by columns. The interior is no less imposing with leather, crystal, marble and wooden pieces tastefully grouped throughout the store’s two levels.

antiquebaby5.jpgWhile rue Guy is the unofficial end of the strip, art deco fans will want to walk the few extra steps to Habsbourg Antique for central European imports with uniquely patterned wood veneers.

In the end, antiquing is all about story telling. A day spent visiting the shops of Montreal’s Antique Alley will provide you with a fine collection.

If you go

 Quoi de N’Oeuf. 2745, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 931-3999
Toi Moi et Café. 2695, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 788-9599
Café Lili & Oli. 2515, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 932-8961
Rétro-Ville. 2652, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 939-2007
Céline Antiquaire. 2658, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 933-9355
Grand Central Inc. 2488, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 935-1467
Viva Galerie. 1970-1974, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 932-3200
L’Ecuyer Antiques. 1896, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 932-8461
Restaurant Ambiance (lunch only). 1874, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 939-2609
L’Atelier du Presbytère. 1810, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 448-1768
ERA Vintage Wear. 1800, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 443-8750
Michel R. Richard Antiquaire. 1700, rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Habsbourg Antique.1520, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; tel: (514) 876-9220

 

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