Now Online – Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

With many Leonard Cohen fans planning trips to Montreal later this year and with interest in Leonard’s Montreal roots on the rise, an increasing number of requests for information have been sent my way. Consequently, Cohencentric now offers a page dedicated to Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal.

Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal offers links to the best articles about Leonard Cohen’s homes and haunts as well as videos and a list of pertinent Montreal landmarks.

Note #1: Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal is a work in progress with items and new information being added continuously.

Note #2: Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal is not a travel guide although it may be helpful in trip planning. Some landmarks listed, for example, no longer exist (these are, for the most part, labeled) and other locations might not be appropriate to visit.

Recommended Reading: El Montreal de Leonard Cohen [Leonard Cohen’s Montreal]

Suzanne Cohen alerts us to El Montreal de Leonard Cohen [Leonard Cohen’s Montreal] by José Manuel Abad Liñán (El Pais: July 14, 2017), an article that integrates Montreal’s geography with pertinent portions of Leonard’s biography. The following excerpt offers a sense of the piece as well as its ability to be read in Google Translate English:

Although many of his own or adapted lyrics distill political dyes (The Partisan, Democracy, First We Take Manhattan), Cohen always flew over the political conflict between communities that has shaken Québec life in the last decades, even in the hardest years , With the attacks of the Liberation Front of Quebec. When a French-speaking journalist urged her to say why she had not supported the region’s struggle for independence in the late 1970s, he replied: “I am in favor of the Free State of Montreal. I do not live in a country, I live in a neighborhood, in a universe apart from the rest. I am neither Canadian nor Quebec. I am, and always will be, from Montreal. ” His political stances were like his fashion, elegant. He tiptoed through all the fashions because he always knew that even if they gave prominence at the beginning, then they could weigh him down.

Cohencentric posts on Leonard’s hometown are collected at

Credit Due Department: Photo by Sally Hunter

Leonard Cohen Explains How He Came To “Love The Sunshine”


You’ve spent years in Greece and California. Do you crave sunshine?

I grew up in Montreal, which was covered by snow seven months of the year, so I love the sunshine. You cannot otherwise but believe in some benign aspect of the cosmos if you go out and it’s bright and warm. And with a tan, you may even look better.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen by Neva Chonin (Rolling Stone: December 11, 1997). Thanks to Maarten Massa for the photo of a very young Leonard Cohen shoveling snow. Originally posted Dec 26, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on his goals when he entered college (Yes, women were involved – and poetry)

What was your goal when you entered McGill University in 1951?

… Wine, women and song. I don’t think I had any goal at all. All the others had goals. I was talking to that friend about this the other day. We just hung out, we played pool [laughs] … We read poetry. We read it like a plan; we wanted to understand what truly living was about. Poetry was sacred writing; the Law. One had to live according to the Law. But for us poetry was also related to drinking and picking up girls [laughs] … Montreal was ideal for that; with good hang-outs, some cafes where you could drink cheaply, bring your guitar and sing. To live the life that poems spoke of: freedom, love, those kinds of things.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992). Photo of McGill University by Laslovarga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted January 13, 2015 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

Leonard Cohen Attends First Live Gig: Josh White – Ruby Foo’s Montreal 1949


Leonard Cohen Recalls Seeing Josh White

[Question:] What was the first gig you went to?

[Leonard Cohen:] Josh White in Ruby Foo’s, a Chinese restaurant in Montreal, 1949. Josh White was a black blues singer, once associated with the leftist folk song movement in New York City but allegedly turned federal witness in the investigation of communistic folk singers and lost a lot of credibility. Still played a great guitar. He knew how to bend a string.1

Josh White

Leonard Cohen was certainly correct about Josh White knowing “how to bend a string.” His playing style influenced many guitarists, including Pete Seeger, Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Elvis Presley, The Kingston Trio, Merle Travis, Dave Van Ronk, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Mike Bloomfield, David Crosby, Richie Havens, Don McLean, Ry Cooder, John Fogerty, Eva Cassidy and Jack White.2

And Leonard Cohen’s summary of White’s political conflicts was similarly accurate. As Wikipedia notes,

White also became the closest African-American friend and confidant to president Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, White’s anti-segregationist and international human rights political stance presented in many of his recordings and in his speeches at rallies resulted in the right-wing McCarthyites assuming him a Communist. Accordingly, from 1947 through the mid 1960s, White became caught up in the anti-Communist Red Scare, and combined with the resulting attempt to clear his name, his career was damaged.

Josh White was also – before he was blacklisted – in demand as an actor on radio, Broadway, and film.

Josh White on Video

Ruby Foo’s – Montreal

Continue Reading →

  1. Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen, Q Magazine, September 1994. []
  2. Wikipedia []

Leonard Cohen on Suzanne “It was never about a particular woman…it was more about the beginning of a different life for me. My life in Montreal”

It was never about a particular woman. For me it was more about the beginning of a different life for me. My life in Montreal, and my life wandering alone in those parts of Montreal that are now very beautifully done up and in those days, it was the waterfront. I used to wander around down there and I used to go to that church a lot.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Cohen Wore Earplugs to a Dylan Show? by Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s: June 12, 2008. Photo of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, better known as the Church where “the sun pours down like honey, On our lady of the harbour” by Sally Hunter. See Our Lady Of The Harbour – The Montreal Church Embedded In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne