Old Montréal
This record is for demonstration purposes only. There are also two hypertext links (text underlined and in bold) towards the designer of the building and a former occupant. But unlike the records in the complete French version of the database, the other links do not function.

©Photograph by Normand Rajotte commissioned for the book Old Montreal: History through Heritage, 2004.
Rear view of the building.
©City of Montréal, 2005
Detail of the rear of the building.
©City of Montréal, 2005
Historical name of the building:

McKenzie Store-residence

Other designation:
  • Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy
Civic address:
  • 171 rue Saint-Paul Ouest

Unless otherwise noted, all civic addresses are taken from the tax rolls of the Montreal Urban Community (1997).

Location map:

Location map

Physical characteristics:
  • Number of stories: 3.5
    with a half storey under the roof
  • Principal building material: stone
  • Principal roof type: pitched

For more information on the physical characteristics of the building,
please consult the list of physical characteristics.

History of the building  

This store-residence, as it can be seen today, dates from 1829. In the spring of that year, merchant John McKenzie, a partner in the firm of Hector Russel & Company (dry goods), purchased from Félix Vinet dit Souligny a property on St. Paul Street with a two-storey stone house and an outbuilding, as well as an adjoining lot on St. François-Xavier Street. Three months later, he hired mason Louis Comte to undertake a major renovation of the stone house: the front façade was demolished and rebuilt with ashlar (smooth cutstone blocks laid in regular courses) and a third storey was added. The firm of Hector Russel & Company occupied the premises until the end of the 1830s. Research concerning similar buildings indicates that this type of structure combined commerce, or artisanal production, and housing. However, it is not clear if one or other of the partners lived on the premises, or if living quarters were rented out to a third party. Beginning in 1846, when the use of the building can be determined, the tenants who succeeded one another occupied the whole building exclusively for their businesses, anticipating a pattern that would become generalized in the following decades.

Sold by the sheriff in 1840, possibly as a result of the failure or dissolution of the partnership of Russel and McKenzie, the property returned to the hands of the Vinet family who in turn gave it to the Corporation of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal in 1860. The latter retained ownership for nearly a century. In the meantime, tenants of different occupations followed one another in a long series; from the 1870s, when two civic addresses were assigned to the building, more than one tenant could occupy the premises. Merchants and manufacturers, including the firm Mulholland & Baker, established themselves in the building up until the end of the 19th century. Beginning in the 20th century, the premises were occupied by printers, notably Pierre Arbour and his partners, while during the 1940s the history of the building was marked by the fur business. A printing establishment again occupied this store-residence from the 1950s when Sam Jason, printer, purchased it.

In 1989, the building was completely renovated and turned into an inn.


This store-residence was originally provided with a rear courtyard accessible from St. François-Xavier Street, but reduced in size by subsequent improvements. Following the reconstruction of the building in 1829, the portion visible from the street comprises three stories and a half-storey in the garret while structures in the rear date from a later period. The party walls extend above the roof line to serve as fire-breaks, and incorporate the chimneys.

These features recall certain elements of 18th-century urban houses in Montreal, however the use of cut stone to cover the whole front facing the street was an innovation in the 19th century, as was the use of more elaborate architectural details to draw attention to ground-floor businesses; both features are characteristic of the store-residences erected in the years 1825-1850. The pilasters and entablature that frame the openings, although very simple, are part of neo-classical architectural vocabulary that was very much in style during the first half of the 19th century. These elements accentuate the large openings that were originally fitted out with mullioned show-windows. The latter made their first appearance in Montreal during the 1820s and served to display a merchant’s new wares. In keeping with the prominence of the street front, the upper stories were covered with ashlar, but the restrained treatment of the stone and the size of the window openings suggest the presence of living quarters, at least during the early years, although there is no evidence to confirm that that was the case here. As in houses erected during the 18th century, the symmetrically arranged windows diminish in size from one storey to the next.

The symmetrical architectural treatment of the ground floor is clearly conceived as having two entrances. However, various historical sources indicate that the building had only one commercial address from the end of the 1840s to the early 1870s. Evidently, the two entrances were used by the same occupant.

Initial construction  
Date of construction:


  • Louis Comte
    (master mason)
    Information concerning the career of the designer/builder
  • John McKenzie (dry goods merchant)
    (owner from 1829-04-02 to 1840-07-13)
    The firm of Hector Russel & Company, of which McKenzie was one of the two partners, appears to have occupied the premises until it was dissolved sometime between 1837 and 1840. The date indicated for the end of the ownership by McKenzie corresponds to the date when the sheriff sold the property.
Comment concerning the construction

Renovated in 1829, this building incorporates structural elements from a previous two-storey stone house that was built following the fire which destroyed this sector in 1765. It is possible that part of the western portion of the rear wall dates from this earlier period, but it cannot be confirmed.

Original function(s)  
Specific function(s):
  • wholesale trade
  • retail trade
General function(s):
  • commerce
Specific building type:
  • store-residence

Although the upper floors of this type of building generally served a residential function, no evidence has been found to indicate that that was originally the case for this store-residence.

Other construction work  
Construction work 1:
    Date of work: circa 1860
    (entre 1846 et 1880)
    Modification of the horizontal volume of the building.

    A four-storey stone extension was added to the rear on the east side.
Construction work 2:
    Date of work: circa 1965
    Modification of the horizontal volume of the building.
    Modification of the vertical volume of the building.
    Addition of one or more stories to the building.
    Removal of a pitched or mansard roof.

    The rear slope of the pitched roof was replaced by a flat roof and a partial fifth storey was added. A second extension of one storey was added to the rear.
Construction work 3:
    Date of work: 1989
    Modification of the vertical volume of the building.
    Addition of one or more stories to the building.
    Restoration or conversion of the building.

    The second extension was raised by two stories and the entire building was renovated to serve as an inn.
Other proprietors or tenants (selective)  
  • Corporation of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal
    (owner from 1860-04-24 to 1948-12-15)
    On March 7, 1913, the corporation sold the property to Samuel B. Townsend, merchant, who sold it back to the corporation on March 23, 1917.
  • Sam Jason (printer)
    (owner from 1952-04-16 to 1987-12-07)
    Jason’s firm, the Reliable Printing Company, occupied the premises.
  • Mulholland & Baker (hardware merchants)
    (tenant from 1859 to 1877)
    Additional information available for the year 1873
    Henry Mulholland, one of the partners in Mulholland & Baker, was a partner with Benjamin Brewster in the firm Brewster and Mulholland from 1849 to 1859. That business occupied the McKenzie store-residence during the same period.
  • Pierre-Alexis Arbour (printer)
    (tenant from c.1895 to c. 1910)
    Arbour was in partnership with Omer C. Laperle and then Charles Dupont.
Heritage protection for the building  
The building is situated in the following protective zones:
  • Historic District of Montreal (Old Montreal) (1964-01-08) (provincial jurisdiction)
  • Secteur significatif à critères (PIIA) Vieux-Montréal partie ouest (municipal jurisdiction)
  • Secteur de valeur patrimoniale exceptionnelle Vieux-Montréal (municipal jurisdiction)
Reference numbers  



Record 1 of 1 for this property

For more information...  

For more information on the history or architecture of this building,
please consult the following sources:

  • Sources - Bâtiments 1642 à nos jours
  • Sources - Bâtiments 1840 à nos jours
  • Inventaire (1980-...) - Dossiers, 14330-0523   171-173 rue Saint-Paul ouest