Blue Bonnets (raceway)
|Location||Decarie Boulevard Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
1872 in Lachine|
June 4, 1907 on Decarie Blvd.
|Date closed||October 13, 2009|
|Course type||Flat (until 1973) and harness|
|Notable races||Prix d'Été|
Blue Bonnets Raceway (later named Hippodrome de Montréal) was a horse racing track and casino in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After 137 years of operation, it closed in October 2009. Demolition of the site began in mid 2018, after sitting abandoned and derelict for nearly a decade.
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, now Montreal West. At the time there was a Grand Trunk Railway station near the site. In 1886, the Ontario and Quebec Railway (a company controlled by the Canadian Pacific Railway) cut it in half. In 1905, John F. Ryan founded the Jockey Club of Montreal which on June 4, 1907 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 multimillion-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 in the early 1980s, there was controversy over the location chosen in close proximity to the race track. This coincided with a failed "Blue Bonnets Development" project. Previously the Montreal Tramways Company had run streetcars right into the race track site. However, it was argued that the site of the metro station was actually chosen due to traffic expectations rather than to benefit Blue Bonnets.
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 Montréal. Operated by the provincial government agency SONACC (Société 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.
Post-closure and uncertain future of site
On March 23, 2012, the Government of Quebec announced it was returning ownership of the land to the City of Montreal, on condition it would get half of the profits from any sale of the land. As per the agreement the land could not be sold until 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 for nearly a decade. In the summer of 2018 demolition of the former racetrack finally began, however a plans for any future redevelopment of site are still in limbo.
- Hopkins, Henry W. (1879). "Atlas of the city and island of Montreal". Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec. Retrieved 23 March 2016.[permanent dead link]
- Samuel Edward Dawson, Hand-book for the City of Montreal and its Environs: Prepared for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, (Montreal: Dawson Brothers, 1882), 120.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Bonnets (raceway).|
- 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