Farewell to Leo Leonard

July 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

Leo Leonard, the long-time proprietor of the Griffintown Horse Palace, died a week ago today at the Verdun Hospital.  He was 87 years old.  Leo bought the Horse Palace in 1968 after a life of doing hard manual labour on the Montréal waterfront and in Griffintown.  Leo himself came from Goose Village, born in 1924.  Leo, also known as Clawhammer Jack, is responsible for the Horse Palace getting its name.  The stables were actually built over a century earlier, in 1862.  As Leo told the story, he was working in the stables one day when a sign painter happened to amble by sometime in the late 1960s.  So, Leo told him “to get scribblin'”, figuring that if San Francisco had its Cow Palace, then Griff should have the Horse Palace.

Leo’s funeral was this past Tuesday at Feron’s at the corner of Notre-Dame Ouest and Charlevoix.  Jimmy Feron, the founder of Feron’s was himself a Griffintowner, a friend of the legendary alderman “Banjo” Frank Hanley.

This Saturday, the Griffintown Horse Palace Foundation, which is trying to save and preserve the Horse Palace, is hosting a visit to the site at 10am.  We are also going to clean up the Palace a bit, preparing it for its next life.

We invite any and all to come down to the Horse Palace on Saturday, 14 July, at 10am, to take a look around.  It’s amazing site, a little piece of a rural oasis in the middle of the city.  Standing in the yard, in the shade of century old trees, you can almost forget you’re in Montréal.

The Griffintown Horse Palace is located at 1216, rue Ottawa, between rue de la Montagne and rue Murray in Griffintown.  The nearest métro is Bonaventure, just head down Peel Street and turn right at Ottawa, the Horse Palace is three blocks from there.  The nearest Bixi stands are at the corner of de la Montagne and Notre-Dame Ouest, three blocks north of the Palace.

If you want more information, you can email either myself or Juliette Patterson.

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