Cheval Blanc 30th anniversary
It’s with much pleasure that ARCMTL helps celebrate the 30th anniversary of Le Cheval Blanc. It is around a table at this very brew pub that Archive Montreal was founded in October, 1998, by several writers, artists and publishers who had often taken part in launch parties at the venue. Benoit Chaput had launched several publications from his publishing house Oie de Cravan, for example. For my part, I had launched issues of my magazine Fish Piss there, issues which included artists such as Julie Doucet, Billy Mavreas and Geneviève Castrée, all of whom were around the table when Archive Montreal was founded.
Part of the mandate we came up with for the organization was to preserve ephemeral artifacts of our local arts milieu, including posters and flyers for concerts and events. It was a great idea that now allows us to dig into the archives that have since accumulated to present you this gallery of vintage Cheval Blanc concert and event posters, many of which are on display until May 22 on the walls of the bar itself.
I myself fondly remember the first year that Le Cheval Blanc operated as a brew pub. The City of Montreal finally made it legal for bars to brew their own beers in 1987, and Le Cheval Blanc was the first such place that I visted as a (nearly legal age) teenager after it opened. The year marked a new era for beer in Quebec: not only were bars now allowed to brew beer, but the monopoly of the “big three” Canadian brewers of the time: Molson, O’Keefe and Labatt’s, was finally ended, allowing for brand new brewers to emerge such as St-Ambroise, Boréale, Unibroue and Hops-Brau. For the first time, one could order a “rousse” or “blonde” at bars instead of trendy beers of the time such as Black Label or Molson Dry that all tasted and looked the same.
Le Cheval Blanc occupied a beautiful 1930s vintage art-deco bar, renovated to include the brewing equipment in the basement. It was a very smoke-filled bar until smoking inside was banned in 2006, although until the gentrification and condo-dwellers arrived in the area, it was acceptable to sit in the back yard behind Le Cheval to smoke and drink.
It has remained an important bar as well as cultural space since 1987, hosting countless art exhibits, book launches, concerts and even film festivals. The bar has also been home to one of Archive Montreal’s Distroboto art vending machines for about ten years.
If you have stories about Le Cheval Blanc to share or posters and flyers for events that you don’t see in this image gallery, you can email Archive Montreal at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’d like to add stories and images to this page during this 30th anniversary exhibit all through April and May, so raise a glass and reminisce !