Blue Bonnets (raceway)

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Blue Bonnets / Hippodrome de Montréal
Hippodrome de Montréal.jpg
LocationDecarie Boulevard
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Date opened1872 in Lachine
June 4, 1907 on Decarie Blvd.
Date closedOctober 13, 2009
Course typeFlat (until 1973) and harness
Notable racesPrix d'Été

The Blue Bonnets Raceway (later named Hippodrome de Montréal) was a horse racing track and casino in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It closed on October 13, 2009, after 137 years of operation.

Demolition of the site began in mid-2018, after sitting abandoned and derelict for nearly a decade.

History[edit]

In 1872, the Blue Bonnets Raceway for thoroughbred horse racing opened on the Jos. Decary farm[1] in the easternmost part of the Blue Bonnets community, now Montreal West. In 1886, the Ontario and Quebec Railway (a company controlled by the Canadian Pacific Railway) cut the raceway in half. In 1905, John F. Ryan founded the Jockey Club of Montreal which on June 4, 1907, opened a new Blue Bonnets Raceway on Decarie Boulevard. In 1958, Jean-Louis Levesque built a multi-million-dollar clubhouse for the Blue Bonnets Raceway and by 1961, it began to challenge the preeminence of the Ontario racing industry.[2] From 1961 and 1975, the Raceway was home to the Quebec Derby, an annual horse race conceived by Levesque.

Controversy erupted when the Namur metro station was built in close proximity to the Blue Bonnets Raceway. The Montreal Tramways Company ran streetcars right into the race track site. Some argued that the metro station site was chosen to benefit the Blue Bonnets while others argued that the tram stations would address future traffic problems.[3] This controversy coincided with a failed Blue Bonnets Development project and spelled trouble for the Blue Bonnet community.[4]

In 1995, a municipal government corporation, Le Société d'habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM), purchased the track and renamed it Hippodrome de Montréal. Owned and operated by the provincial government agency SONACC (Société nationale du cheval de course), it offered harness racing, inter-track wagering from the United States, off-track betting, two restaurants and hundreds of video lottery terminals and slot machines.

Presidents of Blue Bonnets Raceway[edit]

  • H. Montagu Allan (1907–1920)
  • J. K. L. Ross (1920–1931)
  • Kenneth Thomas Dawes (1931–1933)
  • Joseph Cattarinich (1933–1938)
  • J.-Eugene Lajoie (1938–1939)
  • Louis Letourneau (1939–1942)
  • J. Eugene Lajoie (1942–1958)
  • Jean-Louis Levesque (1958–1970)
  • Raymond Lemay (1970–1973)
  • Alban Cadieux (1973–1983)
  • Andre Marier (1983–1994)
  • Gilbert l'Heureux (1994–1995)
  • Jacques Brulotte (1995–2000)
  • Jean-Pierre Lareau (2000–2002)
  • Richard Castonguay (2002–2007)
  • Senator Paul Massicotte (2007–2009)

Bankruptcy and closure[edit]

On June 27, 2008, Attractions Hippiques entered bankruptcy protection,[5] suspending horse racing and all other operations except its VLT gambling machines and inter-track wagering, which operated for a few more months. After the provincial government withdrew its support,[6] Attractions Hippiques declared bankruptcy on October 13, 2009, and permanently closed the race track.

Post-closure and uncertain future of the site[edit]

In July 2011, the rock band U2 used the site for a massive outdoor concert.[7]

On March 23, 2012, the Government of Quebec announced it was returning ownership of the land to the City of Montreal, on condition it would get half of the profits from any sale of the land. As per the agreement the land could not be sold until 2017 and would require decontamination.[8] In October 2014, it was discovered the government agreement was never signed nor finalized, leaving the redevelopment project in limbo and its future in question. Plans to demolish the race track and clubhouse building by 2014 also fell through, leaving the buildings abandoned and grounds overgrown for nearly a decade.[9] In the summer of 2018, demolition of the former racetrack finally began; however, plans for any future redevelopment of the site remain uncertain.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hopkins, Henry W. (1879). "Atlas of the city and island of Montreal". Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec. Archived from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  2. ^ Jim Alexander Coleman, A Hoofprint on My Heart (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), 110
  3. ^ Timothy Lyod Thomas, A City With a Difference: The Rise and Fall of the Montreal Citizen's Movement, (Montreal: Vehicule press, 1997), 41.
  4. ^ Abe Limonchik, "The Montreal Economy: The Drapeau Years," in The City and Radical Social Change, ed. Dimitrios I. Roussopoulos (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), 179-180, 190.
  5. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Attractions Hippiques restructuring. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  6. ^ [2] "Montreal racetrack closed under bankruptcy protection". CBC News, June 27, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  7. ^ https://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/music/concert-review-u2-at-the-hippodrome-july-8-2011
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°29′20.70″N 73°39′29.24″W / 45.4890833°N 73.6581222°W / 45.4890833; -73.6581222