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Ford Hotel


By Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca



Ford Hotel - ca 1936
Ford Hotel – ca 1936

The Ford Hotel in Montreal was the last one of five hotels in the R.T. Ford & Company hotel chain and was built identical to the Ford Hotel in Buffalo, NY and the Ford Hotel in Toronto, which was demolished in 1973. The company’s founder and president Richard T. Ford clearly believed in his business model: he named the luxury chain and every hotel in his empire after himself.


The red brick building was designed by John Foster Warner, an architect from Rochester, New York, and Montreal architect Joseph-Ovide Turgeon.  Construction started in 1926  on the corner of Dorchester and  Bishop Streets on land once owned by Reverend Francis Fulford, the first Anglican Bishop of Montreal, hence the street name “Bishop”


Ford Hotel - 2016  (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)
Ford Hotel – 2016 (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)

The 750-room hotel, opened in 1930, consisted of three 12-storey wings connected at the rear by a perpendicular spine atop a one-storey base which contained the lobby, restaurants and other amenities. It  had a radio in every guestroom, a French sidewalk  café and a four hundred car garage on the opposite side of the street.  The “Official Guide How To Visit Montreal” by the Quebec Tourist  Association stated “Travelling the Ford Way means more money to spend on the rest of your trip!  750 Rooms,  rates $1.50 to $2.50 single—no higher”.


Advertisement 1940
Advertisement 1940

After the Hotel closed in 1948, the building served as the headquarters of Radio Canada. Initially known as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “international service”, the shortwave broadcaster later became known as Radio Canada International in 1972. Initially set up in a former Montreal garment factory and later a brothel, the service moved into the large former Ford Hotel building purchased by the CBC and extensively renovated it over a period of two years to accommodate its radio and later TV broadcast  facilities. By 1951 and the move to its new offices, RCI was broadcasting in 14 languages. In 1952 the first CBC and Radio-Canada television station CBFT-Montreal began broadcasting English and French language programs.


CBC operated out of 1425 Dorchester until the early 1970s, when the space became too small to meet the needs required, including space to house the studios and sets. In 1973, CBC’s employees moved into their new offices of Maison Radio-Canada, a 24-floor skyscraper in the east end of Montreal.


The old building, now Le 1425, René Lévesque, has been renovated and converted into office spaces for rent.


Source: Ville de Montréal / CBC / BAnQ


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