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A Nightlife Full of Spirits

Black-and-white photograph of several rudimentary buildings made of planks or timbers. On one of the boomtown-styled fronts, you can read Hôtel Bellevue on a sign.

The Bellevue Hotel, which used to be on Taschereau Street, in the early days of Rouyn.

As is often the case in new mining districts, Rouyn saw a lot of drunkenness, gambling, violence and sex work in its early days. This ebullient social climate was likely due to the large number of spouseless miners and lumberjacks in the city.

Black-and-white photograph of a four-story building with several signs, including one on the roof that reads, Hotel Albert. On the left, you can see a two-story building.

The Albert Hotel, located on Rouyn Main Street, remains in operation to this day.


While binge-drinking and illegal gambling were common practice throughout town, illegal sex trades were mostly practised in Vimy Ridge on the western shore of Osisko Lake.

Black-and-white drawing of an obese woman in a floral dress standing in the doorway of a log cabin.

A rough caricature of Yukon Jessie, a notorious bootlegger.

The vast majority of sex workers were controlled by pimps who escorted them directly from Montreal, often by plane. Just like the miners, these women came working to this isolated place to save money in order to survive the difficult social and economic context.

In those days, The Liquor Corporation could only dispense liquor licences to organized municipalities. It was therefore impossible to legally sell alcohol before Rouyn’s incorporation in May 1926. The only way to purchase some was to have the bottles delivered through the mail or go to a blind pig, an illicit establishment that sells alcohol.

Black-and-white photograph of two log cabins with bars on the windows. A sign is put up on the door of the left building.

The first police station and the Liquor Corporation space in Rouyn around 1927.

For more details :

Odette Vincent, dir., Histoire de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, IQRC, 1995, p. 314 and 373.

Benoît-Beaudry Gourd, Le Klondike de Rouyn et les Dumulon. L’histoire du développement minier de la région de Rouyn-Noranda et d’une famille de pionnier, Rouyn-Noranda, Collège de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 1982, p. 109.