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Alexander Tilloch Galt Residence – Montreal Then & Now

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By Dick Nieuwendyk –mtltimes.ca

Built as a single-family house in 1859 for David R. Wood.  In the late 1800s the house became the property of Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, a politician and a father of Canadian Confederation.

Through his marriage in 1848 with Elliott Torrance, a daughter of  John Torrance, Galt had become linked to one of the most prominent Montreal merchant families. His wife died, however, on 25 May 1850, shortly after giving birth to a son, Elliott. The following year Galt married her younger sister Amy Gordon Torrance, and they had two sons and eight daughters.

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After 1890 Galt, whose health had become delicate, scarcely ever left Montreal and his residence on Mountain Street. Early in 1893 he had to undergo a tracheotomy because of throat cancer. Unable to speak, he communicated with his near relatives in writing. He died shortly before dawn on 19 September. Two days later an imposing funeral was held in Montreal, but the service was celebrated in Galt’s home. He was buried in Mount Royal Cemetery.

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In 1902 the property was bought by Joseph C. Wray & Bros and the building was then used as a funeral home. Originally located at 290 Mountain Street, the Funeral Home moved to 1234 Mountain Street where it made significant leasehold improvements in 1928. After having used the facilities for some 75 years, in 1970, Jos C. Wray became Wray Walton & Wray merging with the William Wray Company, located at the time on University Street, where it continued to offer its services mainly to Montreal’s Protestant Anglophone families. In 1977, the company moved to the Towers Street location, in the downtown area.

In 1978, the building was gutted and transformed into Club 1234, a night club, which gained fame during the 1970s disco craze, when stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, the Village People and Grace Jones came to Montreal to party.The club later became “L’Esprit,” — another disco concept, which lasted until the early 1990s. Since then, other groups have tried to make a go of the building, with little success.

Today, the building is home to Le Bistro Le Cinq, a Club Lounge, Bistro and terrace, boasting French fare and live or DJ music.

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It is said that the place  has been the scene of several supernatural manifestations over the years, particularly in the basement where the funeral parlor and mortuary room used to be. One story is that one time one of the tables in the area that is now for coats hanging flew and slammed into the wall…by itself. This area was used in the past to lay down dead bodies for cosmetics preparations.

Source: McCord Museum / Library & Arch. Canada / Haunted Montreal / Le Cinq / Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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