The Cars Of Leonard Cohen: The Cohen Family 1930s Chauffeur-Driven Pontiac

Cars Of Leonard Cohen

is a series of posts about actual automobiles owned by or associated with Leonard Cohen, metaphorical cars he employed in his songs, and his thoughts about cars. All posts in this series are collected at as they go online.

Cohen Family Car: 1930s Pontiac

When Leonard Cohen was growing up in Westmount, the Cohen family car was a chauffeur-driven (the driver, Kerry, was also the Cohen’s gardener) Pontiac.1 In fact, as Sylvie Simmons points out in her Leonard Cohen biography, I’m Your Man, that vehicle carried the infant Leonard home from the hospital:

The chauffeur turned off the main road by the synagogue, which took up most of the block, and headed past St. Matthias’s Church on the opposite corner, and up the hill. In the back of the car was a woman – twenty-seven years old, attractive, strong-featured, stylishly dressed – and her newborn baby son. The streets they passed were handsome and well-appointed, the trees arranged just so. Big houses of brick and stone you might have thought would collapse under the sheer weight of their self-importance appeared to float effortlessly up the slopes. Around halfway up, the driver took a side road and stopped outside a house at the end of the street, 599 Belmont Avenue. It was large, solid and formal-looking, English in style, its dark brick softened by a white-framed veranda at the front and at the back by Murray Hill Park, fourteen acres of lawns, trees and flower beds, with a sweeping view of the St. Lawrence River to one side and, on the other, downtown Montreal. The chauffeur stepped out of the car and opened the rear door, and Leonard was carried up the white front steps and into his family home.

Of course, when Leonard was a little older …
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Maarten Massa for access to these images.


  1. It’s worth noting that in his 60s and 70s, Leonard frequently served as chauffeur for his friend and Zen teacher, Roshi, []

Leonard Cohen & Av Cohen Lose Debate To Penitentiary Inmates – 1958

tojailLeonard Cohen was, in fact, the President of the McGill Debating Union, but, his linguistic skills notwithstanding, he and his partner, Avrum Cohen, were defeated by a team of convicts (who did have the advantage of playing on their home field). The following excerpt is from “The Cohens of McGill”  by  Jim Hynes (McGill Reporter May 15, 2008 – Vol 40; No 17):

Avrum Cohen followed his father Hyman’s first steps on campus, earning a BA in 1953 and a law degree in 1956. Back in the days when the position came with a room adjacent to its offices in what is now the Redpath Museum, the future lawyer served as President of the McGill Students’ Society. He was also part of McGill’s Debating Union Society, teaming up in 1956 with an unrelated Leonard Cohen (yes, that Leonard Cohen) for a debating contest tour that included a loss to a team of inmates from thepenitentiary where one debate was held. Avrum Cohen later married Robin’s mother, Barbara, who earned a Diploma in Teaching – at McGill, of course. [emphasis mine]

Note: Originally posted December 12, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric