The Commons

First establishment to obtain a liquor license in Morin Heights

The stone wall you see before you is all that remains of a place that was the pulse of Morin-Heights for eight decades.

This hotel, formerly called "Hammond's Dance Hall", was built around 1925 on Station Road; it offered some rooms on the upper floor and a dance hall on the main. It was the first establishment to obtain a liquor license following the abolition of prohibition by the Municipality in 1938. Its lively nights of Irish reels attracted the region's dancers and skiers who were dropped off at the nearby train station.

Cooley's Reel by Kevin Burke

Sources:Musical excerpt: traditional Irish music. Image: Courtesy of Kevin Burke


And then everyone dances

Square dancing, 1941
Source BAnQ Vieux-Montréal


Over the years, Morin-Heights has vibrated to a multitude of musical styles, from traditional to ballroom to folk music and rock'n'roll. Small hotels in the area competed by presenting concerts and hiring orchestras, singers, and instrumentalists to satisfy their clientele.
 

The 1980s and 90s

Source: The Black Cadillacs, 1990

Around 1939, Hammond's Dance Hall became the Commons, a bar that became famous beyond expectation thanks to the famous artists who performed there in the 80s and 90s, such as Blue Rodeo, Ronnie Hawkins, Corey Hart, Levon Helm and many others. It became a popular must-visit destination, hosting up to three bars and terraces in its best years.

A parade of celebrities

Recording room of the Studio
Source: André Perry archives


Not far from here, André Perry, a Montreal musician and sound engineer, opened a revolutionary recording studio with state-of-the-art equipment. The studio was located on 300 acres of untouched forest on the shore of a private lake, 3 km from the center of Morin-Heights. The tranquillity and peace of the site were meant to encourage concentration and creativity for the artists who worked there.

It was a massive success with recordings from many of the most famous stars and bands of the 1970s and 1980s: the Bee Gees, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Robert Charlebois, Rush, The Police, Bryan Adams, Chicago, Roberta Flack, and many others.

The Commons, a mythical place

Between recording sessions, artists would often gather at the Commons to relax and sometimes join the musicians for memorable improvisations.

No wonder the Commons remains a mythical place in the memories of those who frequented it. Despite its demolition in 2005, the mere mention of it still lights sparkle in the eyes of some Morin-Heights residents.

Interview of Robert Charlebois

Sources:Sound recording: Daniel Voyer, Interview: Don Stewart

Extract of
Morin-Heights | In Harmony with Nature

Morin-Heights | In Harmony with Nature image circuit

Presented by : Municipalité de Morin-Heights

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