Is Leonard Cohen the New Secular Saint of Montreal?

The cultural fixation on Cohen reflects a man who relished being a part of the city’s literary and artistic underground. Born in 1934 to an affluent Jewish family, Cohen descended from the hills of his rarefied Westmount neighborhood to play country music in Montreal’s gritty downtown cafes when he was only a teenager. He became part of an avant-garde Montreal literary circle and would recite his poetry at jazz clubs.

While he lived part of his life in New York, London, the Greek island of Hydra and Los Angeles, Cohen observed that “I have to keep coming back to Montreal to renew my neurotic affiliations.” He kept a home near Boulevard Saint-Laurent, a vibrant immigrant street where Cohen-spotting was a favorite pastime at local…

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