New Year’s Resolution – Keep last year’s promises. It’s easier to do than other years. I’m not all that busy. Who is? I promised you a tour of my Montreal condo, once my renovations were done, and they are, and here it is. I also promised my Montreal friends a party but that I cannot deliver until this nasty COVID beast leaves town, …country, …world…. Welcome vaccine, we can’t have you soon enough.
My downtown condo is in a building that was once the Mount Royal Hotel. It was built in 1922 and was Montreal’s largest hotel at the time, doubtless vying with the Ritz as to which was the finest. The Queen’s and The Windsor were big fancy hotels at the time, too. Of the four, The Ritz can still lay claim to being Montreal’s finest hotel, as the Queen’s has been demolished and The Windsor and Mount Royal, repurposed. The Mount Royal consisted of three 12-storey tours on a base that contained an immense ballroom, more meeting rooms, shops, and a number of restaurants and bars. Its proximity to McGill University, literally one block away, assured its use for university balls and such, and the popularity of its bars. The Kon Tiki in the basement was THE place to go on a date in my time. There was dry ice and little umbrellas in the weird colored drinks. Thrilling.
This picture is taken from Peel street, at the corner of Mount Royal Place, which is a lane parallel to Ste. Catherine one building width up. It shows only the south tower. The north tower is condos, too. The middle block is now all offices (likely soon to be condos) and the base is “Les Cours Mont Royal”, an upscale fashion mall, attached to Montreal’s underground city, and the reason it was my choice. I own the top apartment just under the penthouse. The penthouses were added in 1989 during the condo conversion and are pretty ugly from the outside, palatial within. Yes, that’s a little balcony that I have, and yes, my ceilings are higher than all the others. It’s not much to brag about but I’ll take what I can get and I love the high ceilings and the brightness of the apartment. It faces what Montreal calls west and gets sunlight most of the day. I also have two north and one south facing window and the really tall buildings are not close enough to shade me. The snow on street and building is real. This is how it looks from December to May. Yes, I did know what I was getting into. It won’t be on fire anytime soon.
So, welcome. By now you’ve met our doorman and valet, and maybe even our concierge. There are always at least two of them on duty and they are super guys. They spoil us rotten. The elevator has taken you to the 12th floor and you’ve walked half a block to my apartment at the end of the hall. Come in.
You can sit down on the Indonesian carved chest at lower left and take your boots off. There’s a mat to put them on just out of sight. You’ll recognize Elvon’s Canadian Bartlett prints, and California Redwoods and a couple of my Canadian paintings. The big white one on the right is new. It’s a stylized Hong Kong Skyline by Toby Feldmos, who is making a good living selling paintings on the Internet. You can buy what he has or commission what you want. I asked for Hong Kong, of course. He painted it in Tel Aviv, where he lives, and Fed Ex delivered it, framed. I needed one more modern piece to go with my Zabel and Leona Apps. Jamais deux sans trois. The mirror is Tibetan, purchased in Hong Kong, a year ago. I had been planning on buying a lot more on that trip, but almost all of HK’s wonderful antique shops are no more. Hollywood Road is a poor shadow of its former self. I was to find the same true of Notre Dame Street in Montreal. No one (except me) decorates with antiques anymore, it seems. More’s the pity. The hall runner came out of the Megan family house in Notre-Dame de Grâce and is at least 90 years old. My good friend Robert Lemire had been keeping it for me all these years. Thank you, Robert. The apothecary cabinet, Elvon and I bought in Seoul, in 1990-something, and the cloisonne ginger jar, on top of it, came from ma tante Lucienne and mon oncle Ernie’s house, a very long time ago. If they were alive they’d be about 120.
You can freshen up in the powder room on the left. Some of you will recognize our pictures from the potty party, when we sold the toilets in the Napa Valley Opera House. Some of you are Plumbers’ Helpers. I have not forgotten.
Turning left at the end of the hall you come into the living dining area, which I just love for its openness. I also love that I can open windows and turn the heat up. It makes me feel safe with the one person at a time that I can entertain in time of COVID.
Walk past the red money chest the Mendelsons gave me, thank you, Ralph and Melinda. There’s a better picture of it coming up. Continue between Annie and my yoga mat and past the red ginger jar cabinet. There’s a better picture of that coming, too. This does give you an idea of the size of the space and why I needed two sofas and a sideboard that I didn’t have. I got the sideboard online, from a San Francisco antique store, after having Val Lasker take a look at it. Thank you, Val. I have the best friends. Thanks, Deborah Robertson, too, for minding my 5th and 6th dining room chair for me and having matching red cushions made.
Speaking of cushions, look at the ones my Montreal designer, Andrée Sauter, had made with saree fabric I brought back from Malaysia, when I visited Linda Chew last year. The fourth one is turquoise. Aren’t they fun? One of those sofas is a sleeper, too. Just sayin’.
The ginger jar cabinet that wouldn’t fit in the elevator, went to Ginger Petty’s garage for a couple of months, until I took my general contractor and his helper over there, one day in February. With the help of Dennis Douglas, who made the original in Napa to my specs, they were able to remove the drawer assembly. Then it was able to come home to be re-assembled. It looks great here, with its new lighting that has a projector right on the Tang dynasty horse, that Bill Benter gave us for a wedding present.
The rest of the art all fell into place. The Izzards are gorgeous with bright new frames that really show them off. The art fell into Canadian groups and Chinese groups and the moderns stand alone, one in each room.
Remember “Wine Wednesday”, the Zabel that I commissioned after finding the artist at a show in Fort Mason, in San Francisco? It’s much nearer the artist’s hometown now. She’s from Trois Rivières. I asked her to make the background the St. Francis yacht club, and the partygoing couples the way you would find them at Fountaingrove Lodge. Annie, the sculpture, and The Mendelsons’ money chest got face lifts, too. Here they all are.
I have a functional and kind of pretty little kitchen, too. I use it a lot these days, with all the restaurants closed.
The master bed room is very comfortable, with its adjustable bed, being watched over by “Educated Women” a screen I bought, with Ruth Berggren, on Hollywood Road, in Hong Kong in 2007.
The screen is joined in the bedroom by an antique Chinese armoire, also purchased on Hollywood Road, by Montreal friends, Patrick Brunet and Rosie Morgan. I’m lucky they decided to downsize. The armoire is flanked by my third modern painting, “Wraparound” by Leona Apps, which was a wedding present in Hong Kong. To the other side of the armoire, is my grandfather Megan’s wedding present to my grandmother in 1894. It’s called “a gallery table”, and it has been in our family for more than a hundred years.
On to the office where I still spend most of my waking hours, and where I am as I write this. My back is to the window and the room contains many of my favorite things; the chandelier I bought for the Lodge, “Lahaina Harbour” by G.S. Hill, which I bought on Maui in 1978, Helmut Gerth’s “The Start – PCYC”, Pak Chan’s “Chinese Scholar”, etc. It also houses my wine cellar. Look under the desk and in the next picture.
It has an en-suite bathroom, where Robbie pees faithfully in the toilet and lets me clean up the poo he leaves beside. So, this is where I am going to sleep when you come visit.
The sleeper sofa is very comfortable. I have slept on it in Santa Rosa. All’s well. Do come. Happy, happy New Year.