Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yesterday and today

I wasn't going to post any more Montreal pictures, but I found the photo at right on Wikipedia only minutes after I'd taken the one below. They depict the same scene on Ste. Catherine Street at Phillips Square 121 years apart: Morgan's department store in 1890, and the same store under its new name (La Baie/The Bay, short for Hudson's Bay Company) in 2011.

The view hasn't changed much, perhaps appropriate, since the parent company is the oldest commercial corporation in North America, according to Wikipedia, dating to 1670, with a history that crosses some interesting national borders.

My favorite is the story of the company's founding. Two French traders learned of rich territory around Hudson's Bay and sought French government backing for a fur-trading venture. Colbert said no, so the traders sought and received backing from England instead. The resulting company became the largest landowner in the world and altered the face of North American history. Oops!

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

Labels: , , , , , ,

10 Comments:

Anonymous kathy d. said...

Question: Did you finish Kate Atkinson's book? If so, what did you think of it?

I finished "Roseanna," by Sjowall and Wahloo, a superb writing job and police procedural, a gem.

April 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I haven't finished any of the books. I've been flipping through them like a child on Christmas morning (and also wrapping up a piece of reading I have to do that does not involve the new books).

April 24, 2011  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

What I find really interesting about that location are the changes that have happened below the surface, that whole mall that went in under the church.

And I'm a little nostalgic for the the movie theatre that used to be next to the Bay, the Cine 539, where I saw my first, ah, adult film.

April 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I spent no time underground on this trip.

Ah, adult theaters. One of the Richard Stark novels that I read recently (I think The Outfit) includes the heist of a porn theater where receipts are kept for two other porn theaters. These Internet days are enough to make one nostalgic for a time when people would congregate in theaters and make their adult viewing a communal experience -- even if they turned their trench-coat collars up when they came in and went out. It must have been like a Woodstock of pornography back then.

April 24, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I love those old buildings. Shame on cities that tear them down and replace them ith characterless new ones.

April 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The subject came up on my recent Montreal trip. I was told that a fire in the nineteenth-century had wiped out an area much larger than what is now known as Old Montreal. Naturally I wondered how old the destroyed buildings were. Did Montrealers then distinguish between desirable older buildings and faceless new ones? Or was the concept of a faceless modern building alien at the time?

April 24, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I'm particularly fond of the beaux arts architecture. New York still has a number of these and they lend enormous elegance to the city, plus a sense of continuity and respect for the past.

On the other hand, just like every old piece of furniture or art is not always beautiful, not every old building should be retained.

April 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Speaking of not retaining old buildings, I recently learned I share a birthday with Baron Haussman.

April 25, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Congratulations. :)

April 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I was born to knock things down!

April 25, 2011  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home