Known for its diversity and unique atmosphere, Mile End is one of Montreal’s most diverse and creative neighbourhoods.
Throughout its 200-year history, this area has constantly renewed itself. In fact, the only constant in its history is change.
Inspired by its past
Known in the early 19th century for its quarries of grey stone used in the construction of the great buildings of Old Montreal, Mile End was, as early as 1810, a place where one could have a drink at the inn or watch the horse races (City of Montreal, 2022).
In the early 20th century, Mile End was an interesting mix of socio-economic diversity. A neighbourhood of small working-class homes as well as large middle-class mansions, Mile End was dynamic and varied, as it also housed a large exhibition grounds, major clothing and piano factories, streetcar workshops and lumber yards.
Initially divided by French and English, Catholic and Protestant, the neighborhood became a stronghold of Montreal’s Jewish population over the last hundred years before being inhabited by Montrealers of Portuguese, Italian, Greek and other backgrounds. It is fed by St. Lawrence Boulevard. Also known as La Main de Montréal. This boulevard delimits the city of Montreal. To the west, the English part of the city, to the east, the French part.
After a difficult period in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the neighborhood has recovered to become an artistic, musical, friendly, energetic, unusual environment, just like the great city of Montreal.
The Mile End of today
Located in the heart of Montreal, Mile End is now a vibrant and culturally rich community that attracts visitors from around the world. This eclectic neighborhood combines its important past as a clothing manufacturing center with modern boutiques and trendy restaurants, while housing some of Montreal’s most renowned artists and restaurateurs.
It offers authentic and memorable experiences with its mix of cultural backgrounds, restaurants, popular cafes and specialty stores to explore.
Rich in nearby nature parks and vibrant street life everywhere, Mile End is an ideal destination for any traveler or for those looking for a lively evening scene.
A great model of multiculturalism
The YMCA’s work with the Greek community and, beginning in the 1970s, with other generations of immigrants, particularly Latin Americans, helps to highlight the multi-ethnic character of the area (YMCA, 2022).
Traditionally an immigrant neighbourhood, it is now more able to attract people from the design, film and television industries.
Today, Mile End is a trendy part of Montreal that is known for its exceptionally diverse and vibrant cultural landscape. On any given day, visitors to the neighborhood can observe an incredible array of flavors, languages and customs that exemplify one of the neighborhood’s unique selling points.
Living in Mile End
With the arrival of large companies such as Ubisoft, the neighborhood has experienced an accelerated rejuvenation and an incredible increase in the value of apartments and condominiums.
With its bohemian atmosphere, shops, independent boutiques, small cafés and restaurants, Mile End cultivates the European way of life.
It’s a place where you can do everything on foot, taste cuisine from around the world, let your kids play in the green alleys, maintain a certain community spirit and meet teachers, graphic designers, young entrepreneurs, architects, brewers, bike repairmen and bagel-loving tourists.
Bagels: Mile End means bagels. Whether it’s Bagel Fairmont or Bagel St-Viateur, both are must-see institutions. Open 24 hours a day, they remain to this day (according to many Montrealers) the one and only “real bagels…in the world”.
The friendly duel between Café Olimpico and Club Social: These two almost-neighborly cafés are undoubtedly neighborhood institutions. Each regular has his or her own preference and maintains a small war with the competing business. In the end, there is something for everyone and both places are always full.
Lahaie Park and St-Enfant-Jesus Church: The park was, at the end of the 19th century, the central core of the village of Saint-Louis-de-Mile-End (the ancestor of Mile-End). The church was built in 1857 and the park has recently been redeveloped with a beautiful fountain. The “Christmas in the Park” event has been taking place there every December for the past 20 years.
Tamey, the Mile End florist: Her business, recognized for 20 years, is also a “Chinatown” style bric-a-brac. Flowers and bric-a-brac overflow to the sidewalk. You can recognize the place by the many bird cages hanging from the upper balcony. Originally from Hong Kong, this single mother of 14 children works day and night among the flowers. She is said to have shaped the “village” spirit of the neighborhood… Today, she continues to animate and flower Bernard Street.
Saint-Michel-Archange Church: Another symbol of the cultural hybridity of the neighborhood. The Byzantine-inspired building was built in 1915 for the Irish and Polish community. The Roman Catholic church is known for its dome and minaret (a tower usually attributed to mosques) visible from almost anywhere in Mile End.
The Rialto: This historic monument was originally built in 1923-1924 as a neighborhood cinema. The Beaux-Arts façade was inspired by the Paris Opera House and the neo-baroque interior is of rare beauty. Today, the theater/performance space presents a multilingual and multicultural program, anchored in the present with a nod to the past.
Wilensky’s: The snack bar that froze in time…somewhere in the 1950s. Opened in 1932 by Harry Wilensky, originally from Russia, it was first a cigar store, a barber shop and a bookstore. It was his son who convinced him to buy a grill to sell sandwiches. The beauty of the place is the simplicity of the food.