A priest, a barrel-maker, and a lawyer!
I can’t come up with a decent “knock-knock” joke to follow, sorry folks! Who are they? These three constructed the buildings where I found my latest miniature ink and watercolour door subjects this past summer in Montréal (Québec, Canada). And luckily, the city has kept some great historical records on these buildings.
The first door is from the oldest building in Montréal, the Saint-Sulpician Seminary, started on this Rue Notre Dame site in 1685, and is still a seminary today. On one side of this old stone building is the famous Notre Dame Basilica, and it looks right at home beside it. However on the other side is a very modern-looking downtown with high rises and Starbucks! Doesn’t this door look like it belongs in rural France? Not really that unusual I suppose because, back in 1685, this setting might have looked like rural France!
The second door belongs to a 1757 building that was the home of a cooper (barrel-maker) for the military stationed in barracks across the street on Rue Saint-Paul. The cooper, Eustache Prévost, did his work on the ground floor (window with iron bars), and his family lived above. In the following years, it was also an inn, a rooming house, and an apartment building with a snack bar! After several renovations, it has been restored to a single family home. I’m always tempted to ring the doorbell to ask if an inside tour is possible!
The third door sits on a 45-degree angle in its corner building on Rue Saint-Paul at Bonsecours. This building is the “youngest”, started in 1831 by a lawyer, William Walker. But within 2 years, he had sold it to a judge, who sold it to another lawyer, and then it became a commercial space. It’s been a dry goods store, a haberdashery, a hotel and in the 1960’s, an avant-garde theatre! Restaurant businesses have now taken over the space in recent years – one, who painted a lovely seraphim angel on the door’s window. I loved the well-worn look of the facade, and its determination to stay current with its chalkboards, flowers and posters.
When I paint doors, I can’t help but wonder who might have opened, locked, and banged on these doors. In most cases, my imagination has to fill in the entire story , but with these Montréal doors, I got a glimpse into who might have gone knock-knock!
(Original pieces available separately November 3 -5 at Holiday HandMade Market in Niagara Falls, Canada)