Civil War Spies in Old Montreal

I Had No Idea
in my Hood
I really love learning new things
I am a history nut and i am known for rambling way off the grid in America to search for historical places like battle sites,Pony Express offices from the Old West or Civil War era houses. So this was exciting to find out in my own backyard….
I was once caught speeding in the Deep South by a Georgia state trooper who wanted to know what kind of ethnic name Lipsin was and i hung my head with visions of chain gangs in my immediate future when i suddenly hit on a brilliant idea.I said i was only trying to get to the Civil War Battlefield some 15 miles up the road so i could pay respect to the Southern boys before they closed for the day.Well sir he let me off and i breathed a sigh of relief. A Yankee Jew boy with California plates in the Deep South is a recipe for disaster.

I am skimming a book called Montreal City of Secrets and i have discovered that during the Civil War in America Montreal was the center of the Confederate Secret Service outside of Richmond,Virginia.
This den of spies reported directly to the Secretary of State of the Rebel army ,Judah Benjamin who was Jewish by the way. The whole conspiracy of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln had it’s roots here in Montreal and John Wilkes Booth an this cronies were frequent visitors….
After the war Jefferson Davis and his family fled to Montreal and all this took place in Old Montreal where my father had his record company and i spent my childhood among the 300 year old buildings and alleys .
I see photos of places where the Confederate sympathizers were thick as thieves in places i knew. Many stayed at the same hotel,St Lawrence Hall and had their photos taken at the same studio called Notmans on Bleury st where my father’s warehouse stood. I wonder how many times i passed it by as a child .Here Norman photographed a famous photo i have seen for ages of Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody.I showed the photo to Dad and he knew the place immediately.His mother would take him there for photographs in the Thirties.
The record company he ran stood in an old building 150 years old in a loft. The old elevator was operated by an equally old man who would close the metal gates before we would make our lugubrious ascent . The alley behind the loft was the old wall of fortifications that circled the old city of Montreal 300 years earlier.
The photo below is of St Lawrence Hall the favored headquarters for Confederate spies and agents during the Civil War .
.It was the next street over from my father’s record company .The photo is from 1876.

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