To relocate ? To do what ? Lorraine Lavigne is fine where she is, even if the neighborhood has changed a lot.

Housing crisis? It depends for whom. While some are desperately looking for where to live, others have been living under the same roof for a long time. Long time.

This is the case of Lorraine Lavigne, who has lived at the same address for 74 years. Her little shoebox in the Villeray district has changed very little and she never thought for a second of moving.

” To do what ? she asks. I feel good here. »

Lorraine arrived in this house in 1949, at the age of 22, which gives her 96 today. She had met her lover, Louis, a few months earlier and ended up moving in with him at her in-laws. She wasn’t married (long story…), but that didn’t bother her.

They lived at four in this modest five and a half. Then at five, when Lorraine’s widowed mother came to join them. Then at six when the first children were born. Then at seven… And we’re not even talking about all those who died there…

The old lady smiles back on her memories. She has many stories to tell. At his side, his daughter Louise helps him dig into his memory. We’re sitting in the dining room, looking at old black and white photos. After a bit of chatter, she shows us around.

The tiny kitchen has remained the same, or almost. Lorraine shows us the drawers eaten away by time. The original cabinets. The tablets, made from an old table. Then we go to the living room.

“Here, before, it was an ice rink,” she says, sure of her effect.

Lorraine walks into the room and sits down in her chair. Behind her, the brick walls leave no doubt about what she has just said. We are effectively in what was once the backyard. In the early 1970s, the place was transformed into an annex. With four children, there was a need for space.

Apart from the two skylights, added over the years, this is one of the few modifications made to this little shack, which was hand-built by the father-in-law around 1908. “He had bought the land with an old dilapidated house for $1200, says Louise. Not $12,000…$1,200! »

And the neighborhood? Has he changed? Of course he has changed. Lorraine lives near the Sainte-Cécile church. When she and her husband bought their first car (a 1952 Chevrolet Powerglide, she says!), there were “no more than eight tanks on the street,” she says.

The people have changed too. “There are fewer Italians, fewer Portuguese,” says Lorraine. And, of course, the neighborhood has become gentrified. “We’re like the Plateau!” she said, looking mischievous. But that doesn’t bother her. Sovereign on her end of the street, she spends hours sitting on her balcony, watching people go by, who stop regularly to talk to her or offer her shopping.

In her own way, Lorraine is a star. Everyone in the neighborhood knows her. A few years ago, she was even the subject of an article in the magazine La Semaine, because the singer Lulu Hughes considers her as her second mother. Lorraine had four children. But at one time, his house was the base for many young people seeking refuge. Lulu Hughes was one of them, but there were many others who never forgot her afterwards.

“We shared our mother,” says Louise. It was a mill. The door was never locked. Everyone had the right to come here. We could do anything. The only rule was: no strong drink. »

Quite rock’n’roll years, we might add, and not just because of this Spanish inn.

After Louis’ death in 1967, Lorraine found herself alone with her kids. She never remarried (“Four kids, including a one-and-a-half-year-old, who’s going to hang on to that?” she says, with a hint of regret) and had to work hard to support her family, first as a waitress, then as a cook.

After the war, she worked at Kit Kat in the Red Light. A coffee bar open 24 hours a day, without bouncing, she says. In the 1950s, she was found at Aux Délices, a French restaurant located opposite Radio-Canada, where she notably served Édith Piaf (“A pain in the ass,” she says). She ended her career in the 1970s and 1980s at the Pitt brewery on rue Sauriol.

Money problems are far behind today. 25 years ago, her daughter Louise bought the house from her and now lives with her. No offense to the many promoters who have made him offers, continuity is assured: the shoebox will stay in the family. And if it were for sale, we suspect it wouldn’t cost $1200!

Lorraine is reassured. “This house is my whole life,” she says, before sitting on her balcony to people watch…