Monument-National

Four-storey building erected 1891-4 in Montreal, on St-Laurent Blvd south of Ste-Catherine St, to serve as a French-Canadian cultural centre and to house the administrative services of the St-Jean-Baptiste Association (later Society) of Montreal. Its 1620-seat theatre, which boasted an orchestra pit, was inaugurated in 1893 while still uncompleted. In the ensuing years it welcomed innumerable solo artists, opera companies, and other musical troupes and ensembles, including Emma Albani, Eugène d'Albert, Pauline Donalda, Yvette Guilbert, Alfred La Liberté, Ignace Jan Paderewski, Pol Plançon, Edith Piaf, Elisabeth Schumann-Heink, and Eugène Ysaÿe; the Nicosias-Durieu opera troupe in 1899, the Veillées du bon vieux temps 1921-41, the Société canadienne d'operette 1923-33, the Variétés lyriques 1936-55, and the Fridolinons! revues 1938-46. Numerous orchestral concerts and oratorios were presented there, including Miro's Messe solennelle in 1904 and Alexis Contant's Caïn in 1905.

It was used by the École polytechnique, the École des Hautes Études Commerciales, the École des beaux arts and the Conservatoire d'art dramatique, which all had their origins there. It served for adult education and the woman's movement in Québec.

A true multi-ethnic centre, the Monument-National, supported by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, was used by Montréal's growing Jewish community. From 1896-1956 it was the major venue for Yiddish theatre outside New York, although presenting only American productions. In the period following the Second World War, the Monument-National declined in popularity and although it was declared a historic building in 1976, it sank into oblivion. In 1978, the National Theatre School acquired the building for $412,000. The school planned major renovations, and the Monument-National underwent a complete restoration, reopening on 24 Jun 1993, exactly one hundred years after its initial inauguration. It now had three halls: the Balustrade a 55-seat cabaret theatre; the Ludger-Duvernay Theatre; and Studio Hydro-Québec and housed National Theatre School workshops and a rehearsal hall.

The Monument-National remains one of Canada's first multi-functional buildings. Among shows presented in 2012 were the musical version of Tremblay's Les Belles Soeurs, the Québec folk group Mes Aïeux, and MUTEK, an international festival of electronic music and digital art.