Food & Drink

Montreal's oldest bars (with the best stories)

Published On 06/11/2014 Published On 06/11/2014

Montreal may be known as the land of the young and restless -- but historically speaking, this city’s been around the block a few times. Heck, there’s even a whole part of the city which was named, with incredible foresight we might add, “Old Montreal”. So it should come as no surprise that several gold-standard drinkeries have been keeping our fine city folk well-watered since the early days. Here are the oldest bars, and the cool stories they’ve picked up...

L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel

It’s situated in what’s considered by many to be the oldest inn in North America...

L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel (address and info)
Old Montreal
As far as North America goes, this is about as old as things get (for the noob Europeans). The stone-walled bar opened way back in 1754, but it’s situated in what’s considered by many to be the oldest inn in North America -- having been built 66 years earlier in 1688. Rumor has it a young girl died in a fire 200 years ago and haunts the bar's patrons to this day by invisibly playing the old piano. That, or it's one of those self-playing numbers.

Ritz-Carlton, Montréal

Some more impressive historical events that took place here include the first transcontinental telephone call ever made...

The Ritz Bar (address and info)
Downtown
Situated in the oldest Ritz-Carlton in North America -- the Ritz’s bar, which just reopened, has an impressive list of former and current patrons that includes the Mordecai Richler, Jerry Seinfeld, and several political dignitaries. Some more impressive historical events that have taken place here (in no particular order) include the first transcontinental telephone call ever made (!), the Rolling Stones were turned away for not wearing dress jackets (!!), and the first of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s many, many weddings was held here.

Katherine Sehl

Women were banned from the establishment until 1988...

Dominion Square Tavern (address and info)
Downtown
Opening its doors in 1927 -- in the midst of the roaring twenties -- the Dominion Square Tavern survived neighboring fires and the Great Depression to temporarily become one of Montreal’s first gay bars in the '70s -- moving their entrance to the more discreet back alley (the original sign still hangs there). Women were banned from the establishment until 1988 when men-only taverns became outlawed.

McKibbin's Irish Pub

The family immigrated to Canada aboard the Lusitania, and was scheduled to set sail on the Titanic...


McKibbin's Irish Pub (address and info)
Downtown
McKibbin's has franchised into four locations in and around Montreal, but its original location on Bishop was originally the sandstone mansion of  Dr. Frank Richardson England and his wife, Octavia Grace Ritchie (who happened to be the first woman to receive a medical degree in Quebec). In 1912, George McKibbin -- who immigrated to Canada with his family aboard the doom-awaiting Lusitania -- opened the mansion up as a bar. The family was scheduled to set sail on the Titanic, but luckily were forced to postpone the trip due to illness...

Ariane Paradis/Chez Baptiste

They’re rumored to have introduced the classic boilermaker combo of beer chased down with a shot of whiskey to hooch-loving Montrealers...

Chez Baptiste (address and info)
Plateau
Hailed as the oldest bar in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, having first opened its doors just after the prohibition era in 1922, Chez Baptiste still reigns supreme as one of the best places to grab a casual drink or watch the game on Mont-Royal Ave. They’re rumored to have introduced the classic boilermaker combo of beer chased down with a shot of whiskey to hooch-loving Montrealers.

Wikimedia Commons

Prior to opening the bar, its founder John Vago ran off to Cuba and befriended Che Guevara...

Sir Winston Churchill Pub (address and info)
Downtown
Known by locals as “Winnies”, Sir Winston Churchill Pub isn’t too old (it opened in 1967), but it claims the feat of being the first bar to open on the now notoriously bar-central Crescent St. Prior to opening the bar, its founder John Vago ran off to Cuba and befriended Che Guevara before returning and opening a disco bar, the now defunct Don Juan. Look to see if Margo -- who started in 1979 -- is still slinging cocktails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel 426 rue St-Gabriel, Montreal, H2Y 2Z9 (Old Montreal)

As far as North America goes, this is about as old as things get. The stone-walled bar opened way back in 1754, but it’s situated in what’s considered by many to be the oldest inn in North America -- having been built 66 years earlier in 1688.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. The Ritz Bar 1228 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, H3G 1H6

Situated in the oldest Ritz-Carlton in North America –- the Ritz’s bar has an impressive list of former and current patrons that includes the Mordecai Richler, Jerry Seinfeld and several political dignitaries. Some more impressive historical events that have taken place here (in no particular order) include the first transcontinental telephone call ever made, The Rolling Stones were turned away for not wearing dress jackets, and the first of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s many weddings was held here.

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3. Dominion Square Tavern 1243 rue Metcalfe, Montréal, H3B 2V5

The Dominion Square Tavern first opened its doors in 1927 as a hotel restaurant and is still one of the classiest establishments in town, known for their traditional absinthe presentations.

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4. McKibbin's Irish Pub 1426 rue Bishop, Montréal, H3G 2E6

Stop by one of their three Montreal locations and kick back with a pint and some of the finest pub grub in town, like burgers, poutine, pies, and wings.

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5. Chez Baptiste 1045, Ave du Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, H2J 1X7 (Plateau)

This is considered the oldest bar in Montreal's Plateau 'hood, having first swung its doors in 1922. And to this day, it's still a quality spot to grab a casual drink or watch the game on Mont-Royal Ave.

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6. Sir Winston Churchill Pub 1459 rue Crescent, Montreal, H3G 2B2

This Downtown drinkery is know as "Winnies" to the locals, and it claims to be the first bar to open on the now notoriously bar-central Crescent St.

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