Blue Bonnets (raceway)
|Location||Decarie Boulevard Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Date opened||1872 in Lachine
June 4, 1907 on Decarie Blvd.
|Date closed||October 13, 2009|
|Course type||Flat (until 1976) and harness|
Blue Bonnets Raceway (later named Hippodrome de Montréal) is an abandoned horse racing track and casino in Montreal, Canada. After 137 years of operation, it closed in October 2009 and left in a derelict state ever since.
In 1872 the Blue Bonnets racetrack for thoroughbred horse racing opened on the Jos. Decary farm in the easternmost part of the Blue Bonnets Community that became Montreal West until work in 1886 on the Canadian Pacific Railway cut it in half. In 1905 John F. Ryan founded the Jockey Club of Montreal and on June 4, 1907 and opened a new Blue Bonnets Raceway on Decarie Boulevard. In 1943 harness racing began and in 1954 thoroughbred flat racing was discontinued until resumed in 1961. In 1958, Jean-Louis Levesque built a new multi-million dollar clubhouse. By 1961 it began to challenge the preeminence of the Ontario racing industry. From 1961 and 1975, with the end of thoroughbred racing at the track, it was home to the Quebec Derby, an annual horse race conceived by Levesque.
When the metro station Namur was built there was controversy over the location chosen in close proximity to the race track. This coincided with a failed "Blue Bonnets Development" project. Previously there had been a Grand Trunk Railway station near the site. However it was argued that the site of the metro station was actually chosen due to traffic expectations rather than to benefit Blue Bonnetts.
In 1991 the municipal government corporation, Le Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal ((SHDM)), owned the track and in 1995 renamed it Hippodrome de Montreal. Operated by the provincial government agency SONACC (Societe nationale du cheval de course) it had harness racing, inter-track wagering from the United States, off-track betting, two restaurants and hundreds of video lottery terminals and slot machines.
Presidents of Blue Bonnets Raceway
- H. Montagu Allan (1907-1920)
- J. K. L. Ross (1920-1931)
- Kenneth Thomas Dawes (1931-1933)
- Joseph Cattarinich (1933-1938)
- J.-Eugene Lajoie (1938-1939)
- Louis Letourneau (1939-1942)
- J. Eugene Lajoie (1942-1958)
- Jean-Louis Levesque (1958-1970)
- Raymond Lemay (1970-1973)
- Alban Cadieux (1973-1983)
- Andre Marier (1983-1994)
- Gilbert l'Heureux (1994-1995)
- Jacques Brulotte (1995-2000)
- Jean-Pierre Lareau (2000-2002)
- Richard Castonguay (2002–2007)
- Senator Paul Massicotte (2007-2009)
Bankruptcy and closure
On June 27, 2008 Attractions Hippiques, entered bankruptcy protection, suspending horse racing and all other operations except its VLT gambling machines and inter-track wagering, which operated for several months. After the provincial government withdrew its support, Attractions Hippiques declared bankruptcy on October 13, 2009 and permanently closed the race track.
Uncertain future of site
As of January 2012 Blue Bonnet's former parking area is temporarily being used as a parking lot (with a shuttle bus) for the Sainte Justine and Jewish General Hospitals. On March 23, 2012, the government of Quebec announced it was returning ownership of the land to the city of Montreal, on condition it gets half the profits from any sale of the land. As per the agreement the land could not be sold until at 2017 and would require decontamination. In October 2014, it was discovered the government agreement was never signed for or finalized, leaving the redevelopment project in limbo and its future in question. Plans to demolish the race track and clubhouse building by 2014 also fell through, leaving the buildings abandoned and grounds overgrown in weeds.
- Montreal Map 1879
- Jim Alexander Coleman, A Hoofprint on My Heart (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), 110
- Abe Limonchik, "The Montreal Economy: The Drapeau Years," in The City and Radical Social Change, ed. Dimitrios I. Roussopoulos (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), 179-180, 190.
- Samuel Edward Dawson, Hand-book for the City of Montreal and it's Environs: Prepared for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, (Montreal: Dawson Brothers, 1882), 120.
- Timothy Lyod Thomas, A City With a Difference: The Rise and Fall of the Montreal Citizen's Movement, (Montreal: Vehicule press, 1997), 41.
-  Attractions Hippiques restructuring. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
-  "Montreal racetrack closed under bankruptcy protection". CBC News, June 27, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
- Hippodrome closes under bankruptcy protection
- Public documentation on Attraction Hippiques bankruptcy available on RSM Richter's accounting services site
- Montreal Gazette article on closure - All Bets Are Off