MUSIC - Distant early warning by Rush
Photographed in 1994 and 1996 using film.
Montreal Forum - Opened in 1924, closed in 1996. The interior was demolished in 1998. Site is now a movie complex.
Location - 2313 Saint Catherine Street West Montreal, Quebec At the northeast corner of Rue Atwater and St. Catherine W.
"The most storied building in hockey history." That was the quote describing the Montreal Forum. It was the Yankee stadium of the NHL. Dripping with history and tradition, the Montreal Forum was home to Les Habitants, AKA the Montreal Canadiens, for 70 years. The plain looking building stands at the corner of Rue Atwater and Rue Ste-Catharine W in the Saint-Andre section of Montreal. The Forum was the 4th home for the Canadiens. Its first home was the Jubilee arena, which burned down in 1919. Their second home was the Westmount arena which burned down in 1918. The Westmount arena was located 1 block west of the Montreal Forum at the corner of Wood and Ste-Catherine. The third building to house the flying Frenchmen was the old Mount Royal arena. The Canadiens played there from 1920-1926 before moving into the Forum. After the Canadiens left the Mount Royal arena, it was converted into a commercial building. It stood until 2000, when it was destroyed by a fire. A supermarket now sits on the Mount Royal site.
Hockey in Canada is king and there is no other venue with the history and tradition as the old Montreal Forum. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley cups in their storied history, and 22 of them were won when they played at the Forum. Only one visiting team won a Stanley cup on Forum ice. That was in 1989 when the Calgary Flames beat the Canadiens in the finals. The 1995-1996 season was the last at the fabled arena for the Canadiens. The final game was played on March 11, 1996, when the Canadiens beat the Dallas Stars 4-1. The last goal ever scored was by the Canadiens Andrei Kovalenko. After the game, an elaborate ceremony closed the Forum forever. Canadien captains from the past to the present came out one by one dressed in the bleu blanc et rouge, the colors of the Canadiens. They passed the torch from old to new. Starting with Butch Bouchard and ending with the then captain, Pierre Turgeon. After the ceremony, the lights went out forever.
The rich hockey history reads like a who's who of the NHL. The Canadiens had some of the greatest to ever play the game. A total of 42 players who skated a majority of their careers for the Canadiens are enshrined in the hockey hall of fame. The Canadiens have retired a total of 13 numbers. The retired number list reads like an all star team. Jaques Plante, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Howie Morentz, Maurice Richard, Guy Lafluer, Yvan Cournoyer, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden. The 14th number to be retired will be in February, when Bob Gainey has his number hoisted to the rafters of the Bell Centre.
Howie Morentz was the Babe Ruth of hockey and one of the Canadiens earliest stars. He played for the Habs from 1923 thru 1934 and again from 1936 thru January 28, 1937. On that cold January night, Morentz hockey career came to an abrupt end when his skate caught in the side boards and he was hit by Earl Seibert of the Chicago Blackhawks. He broke his leg in 2 places. Unfortunately, in March of 1937, Morentz developed blood clots in his leg and passed away on March 8. He was only 34 years old. He was the first Canadien inducted into the hockey hall of fame in 1945 and the first to have his number retired later on in 1937.
From the steamed hot dogs to the booming voice of Roger Doucette singing the Canadian national anthem, the Montreal Forum was hockey heaven. It had an intimacy that the new Bell Center will never have. The forum was tradition in every sense of the word. Even the CH on the Canadiens jersey has basically remained the same for 90 years now. Contrary to popular belief, the H on the jersey does not stand for habitants. The CH stands for club de hockey Canadien.
At the hockey hall of fame in Toronto is a replica of the old Canadiens dressing room. In the dressing room this saying was on the wall "To you with failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high!"
Basketball had it's shrine in the Boston Garden. Baseball has Yankee stadium, and Fenway park. Football has Lambeau field, and hockey had its Mecca, the Montreal Forum. It had a mystique that no other building in just about any sport had. It was pristine and clean. If you went down to get a hot dog during the game, chances are you were the ONLY one down there getting food. It had tradition. It had a legacy that will live on forever in the hearts and minds of fans young and old. The Forum closed its doors for good in 1996. It was gutted and turned into the Pepsi Forum, an entertainment complex. Fortunately for hockey fans, pieces of the old Forum are still in place. The center ice logo is painted in the exact spot where it once was, seats are scattered about and a big bronze Canadiens logo along with 24 bronze Stanley cups is at the Atwater entrance. Also cemented into the sidewalk is the saying "forever proud." She may be gone now, but will never fade from view.
The most famous intersection in hockey. Rue Atwater and St. Catherines W. in Montreal. The front of the shrine of hockey, the Montreal forum. 7/94
Map of Montreal. The Forum is located west of downtown on Rue St. Catherine. From internet.
The rear of the forum from Rue Atwater and Boulevard de Maisonneuve W. 7/94
Inside the hockey cathedral. 7/94
You can see the banners in the rafters for the Canadiens stanley cup championships. Second only to the old Boston garden in banners. 7/94
The rear of the Forum on a VERY fridgid January day. The temp outside is a balmy 14 degrees. 1/96
Ice and snow are all around the front of the Forum. 1/96
Inside the main concourse of le Forum. 1/96
The Forum from Rue Atwater and St. Catharines. 1/96
One of the biggest sports thrills I've had was getting to see a game here. Tradition drips from every corner. Hockey at its best. 1/96
A view from the standing room at the top of the forum. 1/96
The banners proclaiming the coupe stanley championships. 1/96
A view of the pressbox and luxury boxes. 1/96
A view of the pressbox on the east side of the Forum. 1/96
The concourse of the forum is basically deserted when play is going on. You would be the only one in line for a steamer (steamed hot dog), during the game. 1/96
The men coming out of the door to the right are coming out of the Canadiens dressing room. 1/96
The forum hall of fame. 1/96
No one walks around the Forum while the game is going on. 1/96
Replica of the Canadiens dressing room at the old Montreal Forum. This is at the hockey hall of fame in Toronto. 10/95
Another view of the Canadiens dressing room. 10/95
This was a thrill. I have been so fortunate to see games in so many different venues. But this was one of my favorite. You can just see the blue, blanc, and rouge roaring down the ice. Ken Dryden with his saves, Rocket Richard with his piercing eyes staring down an opponent, and so many more. You can picture Roger Doucette singing the Canadien national anthem, the unofficial cheerleaders blowing their trumpets and the legion of Canadiens fans. This was hockey at its best. A no frills building that had more history than just about all the other buildings in the NHL combined. Eleven allstar games, an AMAZING 70 playoff appearances, 30 Stanley cup finals and 22 Stanley cups. It was one hell of a ride. There will NEVER EVER be another Forum. She was shuttered after the 1996 season and gutted. Her interior sold off to the highest bidders. She was reborn into an entertainment complex. So if you are in Montreal, head to the west part of town to Rue Atwater and St. Catharines W., and gaze at the shrine that was. Long may she stand. 1/96