In the heart of queer life
The Mile End neighbourhood’s name seems to have come from a 19th century racing track that roughly covered the zone delineated by St-Joseph Boulevard, Mentana Street, Mont-Royal Avenue and Berri Street. Indeed, a 1 mile distance separated the racing track from the former limits of Montréal. Thus, Mile End.
Although the neighbourhood is officially part of the Plateau Mont-Royal district, Montrealers differentiate the two, as Mile End is situated in one of the most bilingual and multiethnic sectors of the city, in the western extremity of the mainly French speaking Plateau. It had long been the heart of Montréal’s Jewish community and Hassidic Jews are still very much present, though many have migrated slightly to the west, spilling into Outremont. Both the Fairmount and St-Viateur bagel factories, true Montréal institutions that have popularized bagels in the city, are emblematic of the neighbourhood. The Greek community is also very much present, especially on Avenue du Parc.
Since the 1980s, Mile End is known as a neighbourhood of largely artistic inclinations, and many artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers have elected residence here. The streets are peppered with many art galleries, designer workshops, specialized boutiques and cafés. Mile End’s transformation was reinforced by the establishment of big-time multimedia enterprises in former factories. Take a stroll along St-Laurent Boulevard, Parc Avenue, Fairmount, St-Viateur and Bernard streets and discover the eclectic diversity of this neighbourhood.
The bohemian nature of the new Mile End opened a space where gays, lesbians and the queer folk could flourish. Today, Mile End is considered Montréal’s second most dynamic area for LGBT culture and the preferred neighbourhood of the queer community in particular. Mile End has also appealed to the lesbian community, a portion of which has migrated to the north out of Plateau Mont-Royal, where it had previously maintained a strong presence for decades.
In the last few years, Mile End has emerged as the centre of the Montréal independent music scene, with internationally renowned band Arcade Fire electing residence there, among others. Other celebrated Mile End dwellers, such as filmmaker Xavier Dolan and singer/songwriter Ariane Moffatt, can often be spotted here. In fact, it is the main filming location of Dolan’s film Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats).