A hundred years ago, like other major cities in the world, Montreal was pulsing to the rhythm of the “Roaring Twenties.”
Throughout the 1920s, tourists flocked to Montreal to swing to the rhythms of American jazz musicians who had the fled north to escape the tight grip of prohibition in their country. It was a heady, carefree time of indulgence for a pleasure-loving younger generation.
It was a decade of good times, drinking and dancing. Montreal’s nightlife lured visitors from the United States and Europe, and even served as inspiration for American songwriters Billy Rose and Mort Dixon, whose 1928 song Hello Montreal summed up the feelings of so many parched Americans in search of fun:
... tell the bunch,
I won’t go east, I won’t go west, ...
I’ll be leaving in the summer and I won’t be back till fall,
Goodbye Broadway, Hello Montreal
And I’ll make whoop-whoop whoopee night and day.
Anytime my wifey wants me, you can tell her where to call ...
A hundred years later, most of the famed halls and jazz clubs now exist only in the history books. A smattering of legendary establishments have survived and preserved their original vocation, while newer clubs pay just tribute to the glory days of Montreal’s swinging jazz scene.
And all of them also make it a point of pride to honour the rich culinary tradition that has established Montreal as one of the world’s gastronomic destination par excellence. While the menu has changed since the 1920s (though sometimes not that much!), one thing is certain: great eats in Montreal will never be a thing of the past!