On the lower left of “Montreal 1940” Tinning notes the location as: “Back of Ben’s Delicatessen“. This Montreal landmark restaurant occupied the corner of Mansfield Street and Burnside Street in 1940. [It moved to the corner of Metcalfe and Burnside in 1949.] On the verso is an untitled painting believed to be the farmhouse of Tinning’s cousin Cyrus L. Merriam in Brattleboro, Vermont with whom he visited in 1938 during his training at the Eliot O’Hara School of Watercolor in Goose Rocks Beach, Maine.
In 1941 Tinning moved into an apartment at 1536 Summerhill Avenue near the corner of Côte-des-Neiges Road in Montreal. Below is the Victorian mansion on the corner of his street – later demolished to become the site of the Regency Apartments according to notes made by the artist on a matte for this watercolour. On the verso is a 1941 floral.
Inaugurated in 1847, Bonsecours Market is an iconic building situated in the heart of Old Montreal near the harbour and close the city’s main east-west thoroughfare – Notre Dame Street. Having served for one year as the Parliament House of a United Canada and as Montreal’s City Hall for twenty five years the building represents one of the most important historical sites in the country. In the 21st Century it has been repurposed to house shops and boutiques to become a major tourist magnet in this part of Montreal. Tinning painted this scene in 1939 when Bonsecours was the chief public market for fresh produce and meat brought in daily by farmers from the surrounding countryside.
Access to Bonsecours became problematic as the city expanded from the narrow, harbour streets around the Market. Gosford Street tunnel built in 1931 under Notre Dame Street allowed easier access to Bonsecours and went under the turreted east wing of the Château Ramezay – as seen in the painting below. [The tunnel was closed over in 1998]. The mansard roof of Montreal City Hall is seen in the background.
One of the first cityscapes that Tinning painted after he moved to Montreal is a row of four Victorian townhouses on “Beaver Hall Square”. Built in 1863 by James Ferrier – merchant and former Mayor of the city – for his four children and named Tamworth Place this row of elegant homes on the east side of Beaver Hall Square had been transformed into residential/commercial properties by 1939. Tinning added a note on the lower left of this painting (below) “Riordan Houses” – a family name associated with the pulp and paper industry in Canada. “Riordon Sales Corp Ltd ” is listed in Lovell’s Directory (1937-38) as a tenant at 1163 Beaver Hall Square. Of particular interest to art lovers is that between 1937 and 1940 Lovell’s lists “F Brandtner” and the “Children’s Art Centre” as tenants at 1154 Beaver Hall Square – likely the entrance furthest left in this painting seen below. Franz Brandtner – artist and teacher – moved in here after one of the founder’s of the Children’s Art Centre, Dr. Norman Bethune, left for Spain. Lovell’s 1936-37 edition lists “Bethune, Herman M.D.” as a tenant at 1154 Beaver Hall Square.
In 1982 Beaver Hall Square was renamed Place du Frère-André in honour of the recently beatified Canadian saint, André Bessette (Brother Andre). The Tamworth Place townhouses were subsequently demolished to make way for a highrise office building and the immediate geographic area is currently undergoing a new planning process.