Cormier House, Montréal, QC
Located at 1418 Pine Avenue West in Montréal, Cormier House is a spectacular example of an Art Deco residence. Distinguished by the composition of its main façade and the quality and opulence of its interior design, materials, and furnishings, it is a truly unique architectural ensemble in Canada. It reflects the aesthetic ideas of the 1930s and the design values of architect and engineer Ernest Cormier, who designed it for himself in 1930-31 and lived there until 1975. The house is also closely associated with former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who purchased it in 1979 and, after leaving politics, made it his personal residence from 1984 to 2000.
The property is located in the Golden Square Mile, a residential neighbourhood in the western section of downtown Montréal. In the 1930s, the neighbourhood was losing its once prominent place in the city. A lack available space for development, the development of other parts of the city, and the economic crisis all affected the neighbourhood greatly. Within this social and economic context, Ernest Cormier undertook the construction of his residence in 1930-31.
The long, narrow lot beside the mountain inspired a non-traditional layout. The private quarters are located below ground instead of on the upper floors. The main façade facing Pine Avenue has all the characteristics of the Art Deco style with its two well-defined rectangular volumes of different proportions with flat roofs, with its vertical lines and with its stylized ornamentation. The home’s décor is also distinguished by the use of expensive and refined materials. Here you can find a mix of grand, modern, and traditional materials, for example, the home features marble, terrazzo, and cork floors.
The location chosen by Cormier was half-way between his office and the University of Montréal. Throughout his long career, he designed public buildings, mostly in Quebec and Ontario, his residence being the only known exception. For its design, he was inspired by largely European contemporary aesthetic ideas, but he gave the house a personal, original character in its layout, furnishings, and artwork. Some of the furnishings of the studio/living room came from his former studio on Saint Urbain Street; others were bought by Cormier in Montréal and Paris. He received a gold medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for this building.
In 1979, the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau acquired Cormier House. He renovated it in 1981, added an indoor swimming pool at the end of the lot in 1983, then in 1984 he moved in after leaving active political life. Here, he focused on his law career and his family, living in the house until his death in 2000. The house is therefore closely connected to a more personal and private stage of the former Prime Minister’s life.