Exhibition: Faces of Mile End Revisited

The photo exhibition “Faces of Mile End Revisited”, on the occasion of Mile End Memories’ 20th anniversary, opens soon! It will be held from 11 September to 12 November at the Mordecai-Richler Library, 5434 avenue du Parc, and in the adjacent Mile End Park. Free admission. A few complementary activities:

  • a commented tour, Sunday 17 September at 1 pm. Details and registration here.
  • the opening event, Sunday 24 September, 1 to 4 pm at the library (RSVP by email).
  • The exhibition will end with a roundtable discussion, Sunday 12 November, about the work of the photographer Michel Élie Tremblay.

Mothers and children, Saint-Viateur St. W., during the « Saint-Jean dans le Mile End », organized by the Mile End Citizens’ Committee, 24 June 1994. Photo: © Michel Élie Tremblay.

Mile End Memories is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. We are marking the occasion by holding an exhibition of the remarkable work of photographer Michel Élie Tremblay. He captured the life of the neighborhood during the key transitional period from 1985 to 1995, as it was evolving from being one of the most multiethnic areas of Montreal towards its current reality. (The multinational Ubisoft – one of the principal agents of change – arrived in Mile End in 1997.) The McCord Stewart Museum, which acquired his neighborhood photography, gives a good summary of its importance:

Michel Élie Tremblay photographed the social life and the places of Mile End while he was living there from 1980 to the end of the 1990s. He was able to approach people without bothering them or asking their consent in advance, since he was himself a familiar face. He photographed the main streets of the neighborhood: Park, Saint-Urbain, Saint-Viateur, Fairmount, Bernard and Saint-Laurent Boulevard, as well as annual celebrations such as Saint-Jean-Baptiste, San Marziale (an Italian festival in early July, in honor of the patron saint of Isca sullo Ionio in Calabria), the Jewish High Holidays (variable dates, usually September) and the Moroccan market. His photography shows the cultural diversity of the population of Mile End. […] The images of Michel Élie Tremblay show that the streets were the theatre of an intense social life.

The exhibition runs from September 11 to November 12, 2023 at the Mordecai-Richler Library, 5434 Park Avenue, and in the adjacent Mile End Park. Michel Hardy-Vallée is the curator. It will be accompanied by walking tours and a round table discussion on Sunday 12 November about Michel Élie Tremblay’s work and the transformations undergone in Mile End over the past 30 years.

A few notes by Michel Élie Tremblay on his work:

I began my photography career in 1969 at Radio-Québec. In 1981, I started doing freelance photography and multidisciplinary contracts: set photography for TV series and made-for-TV movies; event photography; nature and botanical photography; architectural and corporate photography…

In 1983, I moved to Mile End and, fascinated, DISCOVERED IT!

In 1985, I began a documentary project in the street photography genre. I frequently walked around the neighborhood, taking notice of what was going on through the lens of my camera, showing the presence of people I had met by chance during day-to-day activities, celebrations or sociocultural activities. I paid attention to the multiethnic character of the area and the friendly cohabitation among people. As I became better known as a presence in the streets and lanes, it became easier over time to take pictures of people of different origins. I also took care to photograph the typical cafés of the neighborhood, the long-established businesses, their signs, their original features. Some of them, in poor shape or closed, were a signal of the end of an era. I was so attached to this neighborhood!


The Levine brothers in front of their grocery store, 204 Saint-Viateur St. W., 1985. © Photo Michel Élie Tremblay.

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of

  • McCord Stewart Museum
  • Arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal
  • Caisse Desjardins des Versants du Mont-Royal
  • Supermarché PA
  • the MNA for Mercier, Ruba Ghazal
  • the federal MP for Outremont, Rachel Bendayan

Mile End Memories thanks them warmly.