Canadian Fine Art
November 13 — 18, 2021
Auction begins to close at 7:00 pm ET
JOHN LITTLE, R.C.A.
Continental Galleries, Montreal, QC;
Private Collection, British Columbia
The intersection depicted in this painting no longer exists. While des Seigneurs continues to exist in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood of Montreal, Dorchester—named after Guy Carleton, Baron Dorchester (1724-1808), the Governor of Quebec and Governor General of Canada—has been reconfigured so as to make way for the present-day René Lévesque Boulevard. When Jean Drapeau became mayor in 1954, he mandated the destruction of hundreds of buildings so as to construct an eight-lane boulevard, a main east–west thoroughfare through the Ville Marie borough of Montreal. After Lévesque’s death, the street was renamed in his honour in 1987, though portions of the street retain the original name—a segment in Westmount between Clarke and Atwater, as well as a segment in Montreal East.
Dorchester had been part of a neighbourhood known as the Square Mile, where the ultra-wealthy of Old Montreal began building ornate country estates in the late 18th century. Various factors contributed to the decline of the neighbourhood by the 1930s; by the middle of the 20th century, the Square Mile had become the city’s central business district. Many of the grand houses—emblematic of a golden era in Montreal’s history—were destroyed in the reconfiguration.
Little lamented how “Montreal was kind of a, that length of Dorchester Street, sort of rag tag and slick/slock and rooming houses […] and local cafes […] Jimmy Orlando’s nightclub and all those different nightclubs.” Little would devote his entire career to the chronicling of the disappearance of Montreal’s architectural history, noting that “if we knock down all our old buildings and neighbourhoods, we’ll become a people without a past.”
Alan Klinkhoff, John Little: City Life From 1951 (Alan Klinkhoff Gallery: Toronto, 2017), 10, 17.
Very good condition.
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