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Café Henry Burger
69 Laurier Street

Café Henry Burger

An Ottawa merchant bought this land before 1890. André Bray, a civil servant, built a house there and sold it in 1913 to Dr. Antonio Pelletier, founder of the Hull section of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, who lived there only one year. In 1918, the house passed from Zéphir Tassé to Arthur Soublière, a commercial traveller. Soublière built a new residence, this exceptional classic Edwardian house, in 1921.

On July 6, 1943, Marie-Anne Monnin, widow of the famous chef Henry Burger, bought the property with the intention of establishing a restaurant. In time, the house was divided into two apartments: the Soublière family lived on the first floor and Gaston Fontaine lived upstairs. That same year, Marie-Anne Monnin opened Café Henry Burger, carrying on the art of cooking introduced by her husband who had died in 1936.

Swiss-born Henry Burger had already been in Canada for several years when he travelled to his country of origin in 1920 and brought back a young wife, Marie-Anne Monnin. They settled in Hull, where he opened his first restaurant, on Main Street, which quickly developed a fine reputation. In 1928, he bought the Chez Henri Hotel, but did not stay there long, probably because of the Depression. He launched a new restaurant under the name Café Henry Burger at 11 Laval Street, where he died in 1936. Marie-Anne Monnin kept the restaurant but, after two fires, she moved it to Laurier Street. In 1957, she bought the neighbouring lot and the house behind her establishment on Notre-Dame Street. She lived upstairs from the restaurant. She continued to run the establishment, offering the same superb gastronomy, and continued to attract famous diners. Already nicknamed the "Dean of the Canadian art of cooking", she was named Restaurateur of the Year by the restaurant owners of Canada in 1964. She died in Hull on December 4, 1973.

The demolition of Old Hull dealt a major blow to the restaurant, and in September 1973, Madame Burger decided to sell it to the Société de gestion Phides Ltée, who resold it to Gatineau Westgate Inc. the following year. In 1980, a group of businessmen, including Robert C. Laflamme, bought the establishment. After a difficult decade, the current owner, Robert C. Bourassa, bought the restaurant in 1982 and restored its former reputation.

Bourassa studied at the Institut du tourisme et de l'hôtellerie du Québec. He trained in Switzerland, and worked in several places in Europe before returning to Canada. The many awards of excellence earned by Café Henry Burger testify of the quality of its food and service. Its famous clients include almost all the prime ministers of Canada, a number of famous artists and dignitaries, as well as the "establishment" of the region. Unfortunately, the guest books have not been kept; however, some are still in the hands of private collectors. Café Henry Burger is more than a restaurant; it is a Hull institution.