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Canada's Next Great Neighbourhoods: Griffintown, Montreal

From coast to coast, we find Canada’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

An early 19th-century stomping ground for the Irish immigrants who built Montreal's canals and bridges, Griffintown was named for Mary Griffin, who allegedly stole the deed to the land. When the St. Lawrence Seaway became the city's major transport artery, the Griff was zoned industrial and the population dwindled to 810 in 1971. But now the district is on the up again, thanks to condo developments, a crop of foodie destinations and Montreal's Fashion Week (you know a neighbourhood's fashionable when...). Call it the luck of the Irish.

Commuting time to downtown 7 minutes (driving)
Claim to fame New City Gas attracts international DJs like Calvin Harris.
Local drink Griffintown Blonde Ale from Brasseur de Montreal
Noteworthy nature Lachine Canal
Live music Jazz at Griffintown Café
Annual event Exhibits year-round at local galleries

1. Arsenal
What was an industrial boatyard in 1846 is now 4,200 square metres filled with contemporary art, not to mention the new home of Montreal Fashion Week. "The area has everything to become an important Canadian hub of contemporary art; another gallery, Antoine Ertaskiran, just opened on the same block," says Arsenal's director Jean-François Bélisle, who also points to Le Boucan, a smokehouse down the street serving some of the best ribs and pulled pork he's had.
2020, rue William, 514-931-9978
Le Boucan
1886, rue Notre-Dame O., 514-439-4555
Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran
1892, rue Payette, 514-989-7886

2. Nora Gray 

Just south of the Bell Centre – the home of the Montreal Canadiens – is this Italian eatery. A cross between a 1960s basement and a speakeasy, the spot is run by former Liverpool House team Lisa McConnell, Emma Cardarelli and Ryan Gray. "We've watched this working class 'hood evolve and wanted to grow with it; now Nora Gray has become the neighbourhood restaurant," says Gray.
1391, rue St. Jacques, 514-419-6672

Alexis Le Gourmand

3. Alexis Le Gourmand
This deli is where you'll run into Canadiens players pushing grocery carts. Housed in a former machine shop, the grocery specializes in regional products like organic meats from Charlevoix and chocolates from Gatineau.
1407, rue Saint-Jacques, 514-935-7676

E.R.A. Vintage Wear
4. E.R.A. Vintage Wear
Stepping into this immaculate vintage shop – a pastel sea of hand-picked, colour-coded clothing – is like walking into Ladurée. "When I came to this neighbourhood, it was mainly antique dealers. But you could sense, even seven years ago, that the area was heading in a new direction," says Elaine Léveillé, owner and founder of E.R.A. "When Jean Paul Gaultier visited he bought gifts for all his friends. Nothing is predictable in Griffintown!"
1800, rue Notre-Dame O., 514-543-8750



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