Mural of the Fire at the Eastview Hotel
211 Montreal Road. Artist: David Yeatman (2004)
This mural illustrates the fire that occurred at the Eastview Hotel in August 1990. Two illustrations of the hotel are located on the left side of the mural, from 1900 and from 1950.
In 1948, M. Chénier bought a small hotel located at the corner of Montreal Road and Cyr Avenue. A year later, he renovated and enlarged it, forcing the removal of two houses in the process. St. Margaret’s Church was strongly opposed to the hotel being located just a few meters from its entrance.
The Eastview Hotel boasted three bars and restaurants adorned with beautiful woodwork. Some parts of this building dated from the nineteenth century. With the passing years, it became a veritable icon in the landscape along Montreal road, and was one of the area’s most prestigious venues, attracting a number of politicians and various artists and notables.
Unfortunately, the elegance and charm of yesteryear could not be maintained forever. A very different situation began to take hold in the 1980s, when several scuffles and other incidents involving drug trafficking were widely reported in the media, tarnishing the hotel’s reputation. The death of a man in 1988 following an angry dispute with the hotel’s staff only reinforced the community’s changing perception of the hotel.
Major renovation work was undertaken in 1990 in order to modernize the structure and its facilities. On July 16, 1990, a building inspector representing the city of Vanier ordered that the hotel be closed for violations of several clauses in the building and fire codes. The hotel’s management attempted to contest this ordinance in the courts, the hearing being scheduled for July 23, 1990.
Fire at the Hotel
On July 19, 1990, around 1:30 p.m., fire broke out in a storage room containing a lot of combustible material. The fire spread rapidly throughout the building, and it became impossible for firefighters to control it. It took several hours and 57 firefighters to finally bring the flames under control, and put out a fire that caused damages totalling $800,000.
Fortunately, there were only a dozen people in the hotel at the time the blaze broke out, and only one person suffered minor injuries.
On the very next day, the police began investigating the cause of the fire. The owner of the hotel and a building contractor working on the site at the time of the fire were eventually accused of intentionally setting fire to the building. In court, the Crown alleged that the owner had planned with the contractor to set the hotel on fire because of financial difficulties.
Following a prolonged criminal trial in 1992, the judge quashed the accusations made against the owner, on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient. The accusations made against the co-defendant were also dismissed in court one month later. The exact cause of the fire which destroyed the Eastview Hotel remains unclear to this day.