Early History

Forum. Montreal arena, home of the famous hockey team the Canadiens, and the site of many sporting, musical, and stage events. Situated at the corner of Atwater and Ste-Catherine streets, it is the property of the Canadian Arena Co. The first building was opened 29 Nov 1924 and had a seating capacity of 9,000; this was enlarged to 12,500 in 1949 and to 16,500 in 1968, when the architect Ken Sedleigh and his consultants David and Boulva transformed it into a modern building, inaugurated 2 November of that year.

Music at the Forum

Over the years, both on its own and through impresarios who have rented it, the Forum has presented an imposing array of soloists, opera productions, orchestras, dance companies, and folk productions. Notable were Chaliapin in The Barber of Seville in 1924; the Boston SO under Koussevitzky in 1926; the San Carlo Opera in 1936 and 1940; Beniamino Gigli; Lily Pons and André Kostelanetz in 1943; John McCormack; Erna Sack; the CSM under Sir Thomas Beecham in 1943 and under Eugene Ormandy that same year (5 April) in Shostakovitch's Symphony No. 7, the 'Leningrad'; the Metropolitan Opera (1952-8); the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Koussevitzky in 1951; the Berlin (1955) and Vienna (1959) philharmonic orchestras, both under Herbert von Karajan; the chorus and dancers of the Red Army and the Paris Garde républicaine Band in 1953; the Boston SO under Pierre Monteux in 1953; the Moisseiev Dancers in 1958; Maria Callas in 1958; Lauritz Melchior and Renata Tebaldi in 1959; the Bolshoi Ballet in 1959 and 1962; Luciano Pavarotti in 1982; and Placido Domingo in 1985. The MSO concerts sponsored by the Montreal Star (four annually, 1959-75) were held at the Forum, as was one unsponsored series 1975-6.

Popular music has been well represented by the bands of Sousa and Creatore in the 1920s, and by musical comedies, singers (Frank Sinatra 1944), variety shows, and jazz (Peterson, Ellington, the Jazz at the Philharmonic series, etc). From the Beatles' show in 1964 to the opening of the Olympic Stadium in 1976, the Forum was the city's major rock venue, featuring such groups as Emerson Lake and Palmer in 1978, The Who in 1980, David Bowie in 1983, the Beach Boys in 1987, Sting in 1988, and the Canadian groups April Wine in 1980 and 1981, Rush in 1981, 1983, 1986, and 1990, Harlequin and Toronto in 1984, Bryan Adams in 1985 and 1987 and Corey Hart 1985-7.

The 1990s and Beyond

The final hockey game at the Forum took place on March 11, 1996, after which the Molson Arena (renamed the Bell Centre in 2002) became the location for games. It was purchased by the Canderel Corporation in 1997, who fully renovated the site into an entertainment complex that became known as the Pepsi Forum and then the AMC Forum. The building's exterior shell was maintained and it was named a national historic site in 1997.

The new entertainment centre included 22 theatre screens, a comedy club, shops and a game arcade. In 2012 AMC sold the complex to Cineplex Entertainment.