The Warshaw Supermarket (3863 St. Laurent) was a fixture on the Plateau throughout the second half of the C20th. As documented in the locally produced film Warshaw on the Main (InformAction, 1999) the store played host to a succession of colourful characters, not least of all its manager, Mrs. Levy. In later years the store was known for its rather eclectic range of products and produce. Warshaw closed in December 2002, and was replaced with a Pharmaprix (which immediately became the focus of a planning controversy relating to its own sign). There is currently a newer and smaller Warshaw store at Atwater Market selling contemporary interior decor.
We believe that the sign itself dates from the late 1950s or early 1960s. It consists of seven capital letters — 11″ deep metal boxes with red plastic fascias and interior illumination. An elaborate italicized ‘W’ logotype appeared to the left of the letters (see FRAG 3863), but its fate is unknown. In technical terms the letters are galvanized spot-welded metal with pigmented plastic substrate.
The sign was initially rescued by Québec-based artist Nicolas Fleming and stored and occasionally put on display by the Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent and Les Amis du boulevard Saint-Laurent. The MSP took custody of the seven letters in October 2008, courtesy of the SDBSL, Les Amis, and Mr. Harvey Levy. In Spring 2010 the sign was repaired by Transworld Signs and installed in the CJ Building on the Loyola campus on a special plinth built by Facilities Management.
WARSHAW IN THE MEDIA
Sometimes old documentary films and movies offer an unexpected window into Montreal’s past. Here, for example, is a still from the doc Adultes avec réserve, directed by Jack Zolov & Marc Beaudet for the ONF in 1962. The film focuses on homelessness and everyday life along ‘La Main’ (ie the lively part of Boulevard Saint-Laurent on the Plateau). At about 2’33” we briefly see the exterior of Schwartz’s smoked meat deli and, as the camera pans down the street, we then glimpse Warshaw Bargain Fruit Market. Based on the evidence, this is the exact location of the current Warshaw building (and former home of Warshaw Supermarket), now occupied by Pharmaprix.
ATSA’s FRAG on the Main. Audio tour of St. Laurent- Click on stop 3863 for Warshaw.
“Montreal settles Warshaw’s supermarket sign dispute.” CBC News Montréal (Feb 23, 2007).
Warshaw on the Main (1999, InformAction Films). Dir. Tally Abecassis.