Neon Icon: Miss Villeray

East-bound View
In my first walk around the new hood, I happened upon this big, vintage, sexist yet beautiful, Miss Villeray neon sign.The leggy Scarlette, aka Miss Villeray, can be seen from blocks away at night.Initially, I imagined that it was a strip bar and that if I stepped inside I'd see a bunch of old guys swilling quarts of O'keefe and playing video poker.This couldn't be farther from the truth. It is in fact frequented by the hip 30 somethings of Villeray.

The Miss Villeray officially opened on July 28, 1960, and one of its first patrons was the Minister of Public Works and Hydraulic Resources, René Lévesque, along with his friends, the mighty but charming professional wrestler Johnny Rougeau, and radio personality, singer and actress Lucille Dumont. What I would have done to be alive and 20 years old then! The bar opened just one month before the inauguration of the Jarry Park Stadium, then home to the Montreal Alouettes. The number of sports fans Scarlette attracted grew to legions once the Montreal Expos began to play at Jarry Park in 1969.

North-West View
In September 2008, an enthusiastic young entrepreneur and brewery rep discovered that Scarlette's owner wanted to sell. He capitalized on the opportunity and renovated, recycling many of the furnishings so that the Miss Villeray would not lose her original look and feel, and what a fabulous job he and his partners did. Cheers!

But who was the woman who inspired the Miss Villeray sign? According to 83-year-old resident C. Riverin, Miss Villeray was the name given to a very popular neighbourhood woman in the years following WWII. This sweet woman had the reputation for inspiring love. Both women and men were said to fall in love with her one after another.

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2 comments:

Patricia Kearns | February 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Thanks for providing this bit of Villeray history. I remember spotting it one night after moving into the hood and was impressed with this old style gorgeous neon. I love it and I love knowing who Miss Villeray was! May her spirit live on and on!

AKAmamma | February 6, 2012 at 8:33 AM

I love this sign too, and I hope that it is never taken away. There are a lot of great things in Villeray. One of my favourite places to look is on St Hubert below Jean-Talon. You really have to go into a lot of the stores to see what they have to offer.

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