Mile-Ex : Montreal’s hippest neighbourhood

Original title : Mile-Ex

Photos : Antoine Lorgnier

South of rue Jean-Talon, tucked between du Parc and rue Clark, is Montreal’s hippest neighbourhood. Like New York’s Soho the 1970s, this unassuming corner of the city is home to hidden gems behind shabby exteriors. Architects, designers and artists have caught on.

Mile-Ex covers a handful of streets, nudged between Mile-End, Park Extension and Little Italy. Long an industrial area prized for its affordable rents, the neighbourhood enjoys a strategic location. Residents began arriving in the early 2000s, creating a sense of community while embracing the past. A young and increasingly stylish cohort has brought a new energy to Mile-Ex, along with new restaurants, shops and art galleries. The vibe is a judicious blend of old and new. In recent years, the neighbourhood has become known as an artificial intelligence hub, attracting some the biggest players in the field like Quebec AI institute Mila and research laboratories run by Element AI, Boralis AI and Microsoft. Advertising agencies have even moved uptown from downtown.

The transformation gained momentum with the arrival of architects who repurposed old factories, garages and warehouses into offices, shops and cafés. Some architecture firms even decided to put down roots in Mile-Ex. Though geographically small, the area is now home to at least twelve such firms, all attracted by the quality of the buildings and easy access to boulevard Saint- Laurent and Marché Jean-Talon. While some architects have chosen to modify the local landscape with new buildings or dramatic renovations, others have preferred to restore part of the city’s industrial heritage.

Architect Renée Daoust of the firm Daoust Lestage was among the first to recognize the qualities of Mile-Ex, her home since 2002. Looking for an industrial space where she could experiment with materials and light, she found exactly what she was looking for in a former welding shop that she converted into a townhouse. By using industrial building materials (concrete, steel, glass) and maintaining the high ceilings, she made her minimalist loft into the ideal city home. Her renovation approach perfectly captures the mood of Mile-Ex, a unique blend of urban life, modernity and freshness.

Having witnessed the changes sweeping the neighbourhood for nearly 20 years, Renée Daoust is mindful of its fragile balance. “The whole area was kind of falling apart when I first moved here, but now it has become an interactive hub for very distinct living environments: the Université de Montréal campus, avenue du Parc and avenue Beaumont. Mile-Ex is interesting because of its industrial background and the buildings have been remodelled without losing their character,” she explains.

The neighbourhood’s transformation has led to an influx in new patrons, services and businesses. Thankfully, these new arrivals have enriched the area while respecting its differences. Mile-Ex has undeniably become one of the city’s top places to live and work.

I would like to thank Renée Daoust, Guy Gervais and Martin Galarneau for their collaboration.

6631 Jeanne-Mance Street, Montreal

267 West Saint-Zotique Street, Montreal

6704 Clark Street, Montreal

129 West Beaubien Street, Montreal

7032 Waverly Street, Montreal

271 West St-Zotique Street, Montreal

Mile-Ex – e-mag

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