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History and Shopping Fusion

Local trendy labels and stores flourish in La Cathedrale

By : Adair MacGregor


The Bay

585 Ste-Catherine W.

The Bay occupies a huge brown stone building in the centre of downtown, flanked by the old Birks store and the Christ Cathedral Church. This huge historical department store is directly connected to both the Underground City and to the McGill Metro station. Besides its prime location, the unique history of Canada’s top department store makes it a worthwhile visit. The Hudson Bay Company is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest corporations in the world! There’s a good reason why people often jokingly change its initials (HBC) to mean “Here Before Christ.” It was founded in 1670 by the British Government to run the fur-trade in the British controlled sections of North America. Stories of early trappers forging relations and trading with the First Nations are paramount to understanding early Canadian history. One aspect of the company was to set up trading posts all over the country, which have since been turned into modern department stores—that is why its buildings are some the oldest in the city.

The now-renamed HBC still does sell fur, although in a much lower quantity than it used to due to the demands of animal activists. Nowadays, the company specializes in almost any product you could think of. Those traveling its many-leveled complex will be astounded as to the amount of different stock that HBC carries. Customers are invited to explore busy perfume counters, their several floors of clothing and accessories, their furniture floor, their top-of-the-line electronics and everything you might imagine a store could carry. The Bay is the newest sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team, and will be for the coming decade. Come roam the halls of this department store and support the team!


Buffalo David Bitton

625 Ste-Catherine W.

Mr. David Bitton has become a worldwide commodity in the past couple years. Born in Marakesh, he actually grew up here in Montreal! His attention to detail and the amazing ability of his jeans to give everyone a youthful physique make this downtown store a major stop-in for all those seriously prowling the district. With more than just men’s and women’s jeans, this store displays his newest in shirts, belts, bags, and watches.


Soho Bijoux Distinction

625 Ste-Catherine W.

This Montreal original sells the most exotic and trendy female accessories found in the Underground City. From $20 simple designs to $500 bling-bling, the small store with its unique corner location offers any passerby the opportunity to accentuate their wardrobe. For those in the know, Soho Bijoux Distinction carries some of the best Pandora products on the market, a Danish jewelry line that has made a hit with the top of the Hollywood food chain.


Pour Quoi Pas!

625 Ste-Catherine W.

Everybody needs their gags. Pour Quoi Pas! is a unique gag store that has items that you could never find anywhere else. With a line-up of rubber chickens, gag aprons, magnet amazers, silly games and some surprisingly decent interior design products, you’ll find things you never knew you needed! Check out their line-up of funky alarm clocks—you’ll never wake up with a frown again.



625 Ste-Catherine W.

In 1994, Coles and Smithbooks, the country’s two largest book companies, merged to form Chapters, Inc. This store, still in its original form, has the old bookstore feel you remember from when you were young. With many different sections to browse, you’re sure to quickly find that book that will keep your mind occupied while riding the Metro or taking the bus.



625 Sherbrooke W.

This company, whose head office is in Toronto, has been offering Canadians discount fashion for as many years as anyone can remember. Originally the store was targeted towards clubbers looking for some smart dancing clothes and accessories. Over the years, the clothing has toned down a lot, now offering a wide variety of cheap casual wear.


Payless ShoeSource

625 Ste-Catherine W.

Started by two cousins in Kansas, this revolutionary shoe store has jumped on the rather large self-service bandwagon. Now selling almost 182 million shoes a year, the company has moved into Canada in a big way. Look out for the orange tags on the open boxes—discounts are aplenty at the Montreal location. More often than not, you’ll find the shoe you’re looking for, no matter what the occasion.

Promenades de la Cathedrale

625 Ste-Catherine W.

testimonial We all had an excellent time this past weekend even though we had all that rain on Saturday. We particularly enjoyed (...). That was the best all around experience. The food was excellent, the service was excellent and so were the waitresses. The Jazz festival was a nice experience and so was the Brazilian festival. The entire weekend went off without a hitchMembers of our group were very happy with your suggestions for activities and with people you introduced them to. Montreal will definitely be on my list of cities to visit again and we will definitely contact you when we do. We wish you co ... testimonial end
Len, Rob, Ken, & Antonio