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The mystery of Saint-Jacques Street. The French called Canada's main financial thoroughfare "rue Saint-Jacques" and the English "St-James Street". Synonymous with opulence and influence, it was the second in what is now Montreal. Bordered by banks, the street continues to be known today as a museum of high finance.

A dignified ancestor. The first Hotel St-James to grace the streets of Montreal was a house of great standing, a place where powdered beauties and important men sipped scotch in the grand ballroom. Built at the turn of the 19th century, the hotel's main entrance faced the Bonaventure train station. Hotel St-James was noted for its comfort and elegance, a sanctuary for a distinguished clientele.

Behind the wall. In the early 18th century, Montreal was a fortified city. The Merchants Bank was built on a vast tract of land where the great protective wall once stood. In 1844, the Commercial Bank, which would later become the Merchants Bank, bought the property to establish its offices. In 1870, prominent architects Hopkins and Wily were commissioned to construct a larger building. At the time, Montreal was the country's premier commercial port and was developing at breakneck speed. In 1899, four additional stories were added to the original building under the supervision of Edward Maxwell, an architect of international renown. Then in 1929, at the outset of the Great Depression, the Merchants Bank, still flourishing in spite of the financial crisis, merged with the Bank of Montreal and the building was sold to Nesbitt-Thompson, a securities firm.

Revisiting a bygone era. Today, Hotel Le St-James sits enthroned at the crossroads of history in the former Merchants Bank building. On a midsummer's night, modern-day coachmen take us back a hundred years to a day when bankers glanced at their pocket watches while crossing Saint-Jacques Street to the stock exchange and central telegraph offices just blocks away.

The renovation is completed. With an eye for masked beauty, Montreal pillars Karen and Lucien Rémillard used their strong business intuition to return the Merchants Bank building, vacant since 1995, into the glorious property it once was. In spring of 2002, Hotel Le St-James opened as a sumptuous boutique hotel appointed with antique furniture and works of art. Venetian dressers, Russian armoires from the 18th century, Ming vases, a palanquin once owned by a maharaja from Jaipur and the list simply goes on…

Thus a great vintage was born—with a bold palate, historic hue and exceptional bouquet. The ultimate refinement for a very distinctive hotel.

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