Gendering the Ninth Floor: Lady Eaton and the Eaton’s Ninth Floor Restaurant, Montréal

By Maya Soren.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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In 2000 Le 9e was officially declared a Quebec heritage site by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine after operating at the corner of University and Ste-Catherine streets in Montréal for nearly seventy years. The present owner, property management company Ivanhoe Cambridge, denies all access to the public as well as to professionals working in the heritage industry. At present the restaurant is privately owned but has a cultural distinction that situates it as part of public heritage. My research grapples with this paradox, investigating the site’s heritage value within a broader historical context and offering new perspectives on its interpretation. Representing an emerging culture of luxury amongst the middle class in 1930s Montréal, as well as anglophone wealth and power in an increasingly francophone city, Le 9e is one of the last surviving Art Deco interior spaces in Montréal. I am especially interested in the site’s social and cultural value as a gendered space, as it was one of relatively few public places where it was socially acceptable for middle and upper class women to convene without a male companion in the 1930s. Lady Eaton’s crucial role in the conception and management of the restaurant, as well as her status as a nationally important public figure will also be examined in terms of the “gendering” of the space.

Keywords: Public Heritage, Public Memory, Architectural History, Cultural Heritage, Gendered Space, Unspace, Feminism, 1930s, Montréal, Eaton’s Ninth Floor Restaurant, Lady Flora McCrea Eaton, Jacques Carlu, Eaton’s, Department Store, Pierre Patout, Île-de-France, Timothy Eaton

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.179-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.561MB).

Maya Soren

Graduate Student, Department of Art History, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Maya Soren is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Art History programme at Concordia University (2011). She wrote her Master’s thesis on the Eaton’s Ninth Floor Restaurant in Montréal. Maya’s thesis contributes to the growing discourse of feminist architectural history through her assessment of the restaurant’s social and cultural value as a gendered space. Maya received an Honours Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Art History and French from the University of Toronto in 2008. She spent the summer of 2010 surveying and restoring the Church of Santo Gemine and the Church of San Giovanni Battista in San Gemini, Italy. Her research interests include historic building and cultural heritage preservation, urban exploration, feminist architectural practices, gendered spaces, and public memory in the built environment. She has written texts for the Canadian Heritage Information Network’s Virtual Museum Project, the Canada Agriculture Museum’s permanent collection catalogue and Palmipsest III. Maya is also a curator of the The Jean Berger Project (FoFA Gallery, Montréal, April & May 2012), an exhibition which seeks to address the gaps in historical evidence regarding the life and artistic career of a famous painter in eighteenth-century Montréal through the work of six contemporary artists.