By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
The warehouse and adjacent house located at 427- 437 Rue Saint-Vincent, were built for Edward William Grey, a merchant, notary, lawyer, and sheriff of Montreal. In 1767 Gray married Margaret Oakes and about the same time opened a business, importing goods from British merchants, and auctioning them. On 1 May 1776, Gray was appointed sheriff. In this capacity, he assigned the witnesses and defendants in legal cases, executed debt for seizure orders, as well as the sentences imposed by the courts: arrest the culprits, and guarding prisoners.
While the larger building served as his residence, Gray used the smaller one as a warehouse to store property he seized in the course of performing his official duties or goods he imported in his capacity as a commission merchant and auctioneer. Of all the buildings that remain from the period before 1800 the buildings constructed by Gray are rare examples of those who have undergone almost no change to their appearance, and are the only commercial buildings dating from the 18th century.
In 1810, E.W. Gray died and his wife kept the property until 1825. Then his nephew and partner, Frederick William Ermatinger, who also succeeded E.W. Gray as Sheriff, became owner for two years. Séraphino Giraldi, a hotelier and shopkeeper, bought it in 1828. By 1850, the buildings facing St. Vincent were used as small barracks.
After the construction of the new courthouse on Notre Dame in the early 1850s, people related to the practice of law, were looking for locations in the neighborhood, including on St. Vincent St. One of them was the famous George-Étienne Cartier, who with his associates was a tenant of the left building on 437 St. Vincent until his death in 1873.
Giraldi died in 1869, and because of unpaid debts, the Jacques-Cartier Bank became the owner of the buildings. A printer, Adjuteur Carmel, rented the place in 1880, then purchased it later. He and his family remained there until 1919. Dr. Stephen Langevin, owner from 1919 to 1954 made significant changes, among which the sloped roof was changed to a flat roof. Afterwards various shops and a brewery occupied the premises. Bernard Beaudoin, a mechanic, became owner in 1954. Following a fire in 1968 and Mr. Beaudoin restored the two buildings according to their original appearance. A tourist accommodation was then added to the long list of functions experienced by two buildings over the years.
In 1969, the buildings were classified an historic monument.
Source: City of Montreal / Ministère de la Culture et des Communications / Dictionary of Canadian Biography