Montreal Heritage: Griffintown Horse Palace

Located at the intersection of Eléanor and Ottawa Streets in Griffintown, an area just south of downtown Montreal, the Horse Palace has been in existence since the 1860s and still serves as the stables for the horse-drawn calèches used in Old Montreal. But the modest structure was recently sold to Montreal developer Maître Carré, who apparently purchased the site because of its potential impact on the value of its neighbouring condo developments. The former owner, Leo Leonard, is now 85 years old and was the stable caretaker for decades. Also known as Clawhammer Jack, Leonard used to deliver ice by calèche in the 1940s and estimates that Griffintown was once home to some 3,000 horses, most of which were sired at the Montreal Horse Exchange.

Héritage Montréal is adamant that the Horse Palace must be preserved. The city of Montreal was built by horses, the principle mode of transportation until the 1930s and the power behind snow clearing and street cleaning. The Griffintown Horse Palace Foundation is also fighting to save the site and have the stables renovated and made open to the public, an undertaking that would require a significant cash input.

North-End of the Stables w/Blue Crane
We took a trip down to Griffintown to see the Horse Palace for ourselves, but it was a precarious sight to behold. As I took pictures of the stable, just 20 feet away was a massive blue construction crane building yet another condo development, I couldn't help but feel that everyone's efforts to preserve the site were for naught. As we drove through Griffintown, an area pockmarked with condo developments, I saw a neighbourhood with little greenery and even less evidence of sustainable urban planning.

For further reading, visit Walking Turcot Yards, a blog about Griffintown and the Sud Ouest borough of Montreal.

Other Montreal-related posts:

Montreal: 200,000 Students Demonstrate
The Montreal News Group 
Neon Icon: Miss Villeray



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