Thursday Doors – January 7, 2016

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating and sharing your own Thursday Doors post each week between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time) by using the blue link-up button below. 

Doors and Crazy-Ass Outdoor Staircases in Montréal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve District

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a densely populated, working class, predominantly French speaking neighborhood in the south-east/south central part of the Island of Montréal.

Sometime in the early 2000’s a revitalization of the area began to take hold and it now seems to be in full swing. Over the last dozen years or so, real estate developers recognizing the profit potential of the lower property values, have swooped in to renovate and convert many of the neighborhood’s signature ‘plexes’ from typical rental properties into higher-end retro-look condos.


What we call duplexes, triplexes, quadriplexes and five-plexes are basically multi-family dwellings within the same building; with each unit having its own direct access to the outside.


Built during the population booms between the 1880’s and the 1930’s, most of these plexes feature 8 to 10-foot ceilings, beautiful old moldings and trim work, mantles and other decorative elements. They’re built in an L or E shape with a long front-to-back hallway branching off, either left or right, to the various rooms, with the kitchen almost always located at the back.

Of course many of these places also have beautiful decorative doors as well:



One of the unique features of many of these plexes, which can also be found in a few other Montréal neighborhoods, is our crazy-ass spiral iron outdoor staircases.


I mean really, when you consider our harsh winter climate and high annual snowfall, who in their right mind would build residential spaces where the stairs to the upper levels are left totally exposed to the elements?


Even without the snow and ice, can you imagine yourself lugging a bedroom set, or a washing machine, a refrigerator, or any other major appliances up this deathtrap on moving day?!!!


The story varies somewhat depending on who you speak to, but most city planners and local historians attribute Montreal’s affinity for our beautiful but dangerous outdoor iron staircases to a change in the building codes in the latter half of the 1800’s, that required more space between the front of the building and the sidewalk.


So how could builders comply with the new regulations and still maintain adequate interior living space for the larger families of the day? Simple of course: put the stairs on the outside of the building and voila! The added benefit? Reduced heating costs by not wasting energy heating a rarely used indoor stairwell.

Needless to say the disadvantages especially in winter, are quite obvious, but they sure are beautiful to look at.


Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, or HoMa as the trendy hipsters who are moving in have taken to calling it, is still considered somewhat of an impoverished part of the city. But an influx of younger middle-class families, as well as small to midsized businesses and the jobs they bring, leave much room for optimism about its future.

And hey, many of the buildings whether original and well-maintained, or recently renovated, really do have wonderful doors:


Note – You’ll also find lots of these crazy-ass outdoor staircases in the following Montréal neighborhoods: Rosemont/Petite-Patrie, St-Michel, Villeray, Plateau Mont-Royal, Verdun, St-Henri, as well as parts of Outremont.

As always, thanks for looking 🙂

Don’t forget to click on this blue button to add the link to your own Thursday Doors post to this week’s list:

If you share your posts on Twitter and Instagram remember to use the #ThursdayDoors hashtag and please do take a few minutes to visit the Thursday Door posts shared by others.

About Norm 3.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
This entry was posted in Photography, Thursday Doors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to Thursday Doors – January 7, 2016

  1. tinahomeblog says:

    This post is AMAZING !!!!!!! Montreal in winter with all these stairs. These pictures are so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynne Ayers says:

    You have to wonder why, in our climate … but I love them, for their looks. Never had to deal with or maintain one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. facetfully says:

    Indeed! Note to self…visit in any season but winter!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those stairs and doors are so cool! But yeah, I can imagine not so cool when trying to clear snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. reocochran says:

    Norm, my wordpress did a strange thing it published on Tuesday January 12th my pre-scheduled Thursday’s Doors posts for the 14th and the 21st. They even left the words “Posted on. . . ” the dates they were supposed to come! Argh!
    Now, I would have deleted them but there were people commenting before I realized this! I will repost my 21st or something but will it be okay to just leave the 14th up?
    I was upset but my younger brother made me realize it wasn’t the worst thing to happen. I hope you won’t boot me out. Ha ha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The occupants must wonder when the first ‘snow-fall’ will occur. I would be going up and down those steps on my ass if I lived there. Great photos, Norm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      I’ve never lived in one of these places, but have had many friends who did. Over the years I’ve seen a number of people go down these stairs on their asses and rarely was it their choice 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. RuthsArc says:

    What a fascinating selection of doors and staircases. I look forward to dipping in to your Thursday Doors challenge in coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. klara says:

    very nice buildings. everything is beautiful – doors, balconies/porches, even staircases. very elegant, though, what you say – given your weather conditions….

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Helen Jones says:

    These are fab, Norm! I love these doors, and the staircases are a very European addition. I agree with your assessment about how bad they would be in winter though! Can you imagine during an ice storm? You wouldn’t be able to get out of the house!

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. leannenz says:

    What a marvellous collection this week. The snow had me shivering! I guess a lot more care than usuall is taken climbing some of these stairs in this snowy icy weather!

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. reocochran says:

    I really liked the wooden doors and the elaborate staircases, Norm. I enjoy the variety in this post which you could have shared for at least a month won’t 2 to 3 places at a time! It was like going to a “Doors Buffet.”

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. So Montreal, so pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A great post. The photographs alone are worth a post, but also the humorous and informative text giving an added boost. Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

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  20. jan says:

    Montreal is such a beautiful city – even with crazy-ass staircases!

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. Corina says:

    Those staircases are so lovely to look at but I sure would not want to have to use them to enter and exit my home! I think the snow really adds to the photos, too. Not sure why but I’m thinking that they wouldn’t invite such fancy without the snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. joey says:

    Those are ever so dreamy! I love that they’re getting a redo! What a spectacularly pretty way to use the beauty of old buildings. I love the staircases, but yeah, practicality has no room here. I don’t even wanna imagine taking the dog out 6 times a day, down a frozen spiral staircase! Great post, Norm 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      I had a friend who lived in an upper floor place who had a dog and even the dog hated it enough to not want to go out as often 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • joey says:

        Hahaha! I don’t know how my dog would react, but she was never a fan of the stairs in our last home, and they were standard carpeted, enclosed steps! She made that journey only morning and night, so I can imagine she might not appreciate those at all. But they’re ever so charming 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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  29. This is a great one, Norm. As beautiful as the doors are they are upstaged by the amazing iron work. I’ve never seen stairs like these. They are architecturally pleasing to the eye, but I’m certainly glad I don’t have to maneuver up and down them. I hope you’ll post some more down the road because they really are wonderful. We convert old homes to multiplexes but not with any class like this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      These types of stairs are definitely unique to this part of the country Judy. On some streets it really is something to see: stairway after stairway as far as the eye can see. If you guys ever make it up this way, let me know and we’ll show you some of the best places to check them out.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. dimlamp says:

    Those staircases are quite aesthetically pleasing from an artistic point of view, but alas, not very practical especially for moving in our out of the accommodations.

    Liked by 1 person

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  32. A nice collection of doors from Hochelage/Maisonneuve…(Suzanne)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. joannesisco says:

    A great post Norm. I too have always thought those outdoor staircases were a nightmare in winter and wondered about the wisdom of this construction.
    … but it is SOOOO unique to Quebec. I have had many friends and relatives who have lived in these types of buildiings over the years. I hadn’t really considered it before, but you’re right … they all did have a distinct E pattern to them with the kitchen in the back 🙂
    The pictures with the clean white snow look so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Joanne. These were taken right after that first snow between Christmas and New Years. The stairs are very Quebec aren’t they? There was another building code rule that created the other quirk in these places: that weird double room. I might do a post about that eventually too 🙂


  34. marianallen says:

    Beautiful doors, and the staircases are beautiful, too — TO LOOK AT. Maybe you could install a lever that would tilt all the treads into a ramp, and sled down. Then you could move to a ground-floor unit.

    Liked by 2 people

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  36. Norm, these are absolutely wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing their beauty and the story behind them. Makes me cold just seeing those stairs, though. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  37. I agree with you Norm, about these stairwells being dangerous in the winter months, but wow! just look at the beautiful symmetry these stairwells make. They sure do draw in the eye.

    Liked by 1 person

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  40. Dan Antion says:

    These are beautiful doors and staircases Norm. I love the metal staircases, especially the curved ones. What a great way to start the 2016 series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Dan. I wanted to kick off 2016 on the right foot. I’d been planning this post for a while but waited until we got our first snowfall. The stairs don’t look nearly as scary until they’re covered in snow and ice 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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  43. Kerry S. says:

    Those staircases have lots of stories to tell. Slapstick ones on drunken weekends no doubt! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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