Montreal’s Seventh Gift to the World: Part 2

Joie de vivre/joy of living. This city has it in spades.

Let’s face it, it’s because we like a drink. Our bars serve until three am, and our after hours scene keeps going until dawn. Our legal drinking age is the lowest of any jurisdiction in North America, and, to the envy of our neighbours, we can buy beer and wine at even the most poorly stocked d├ępanneur.

Every drug inspires a culture, and ours was formed in the mid-1920s, when most of the continent suffered under Prohibition. Shrewdly, the Quebec government assumed control of liquor sales, and within the span of a heartbeat Montreal’s nightlife exploded.

The American jazz scene migrated north, nestling in the smoky clubs that lined the streets of St. Henri. Burlesque artists followed suit, shimmying along the vaudeville route from Boston and picking up French along the way. Then, surreptitiously, the first outposts of the old Gay Village, which made a longtime home on the west side of St. Catherine. All this while Quebec remained under the watchful eye of the Church, which railed against Montreal’s sins but could not cleanse them.

Booze is as much a part of Montreal’s heritage as any other element, and it continues to define the city as a place of play. Sure, Montrealers work, but most of us choose to live first, knowing that living well is truly the best revenge. Hell if anyone does it better.

To peruse the gifts that other cities have to offer, click here.

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