May 1, 1932.
May 1 was the traditional moving day for a long time in Quebec. That’s how we know that it was the day
that Wilensky’s Cigar Store opened at the corner of Fairmount Avenue and St.
Of course, the story started a little
before that date when Harry Wilensky emigrated from Russia in the late 1800’s,
married Ida and moved to Montreal. He opened a barber shop/variety store which
moved a couple of times and then settled in for a while on St. Lawrence Blvd.
Once the depression hit in 1929, it was time to move again because he couldn’t
afford such a big place. He moved onto Fairmount in about 1931 in a small place
near the lane just west of St. Urbain.
By then, Harry and Ida had three children;
Moe, Archie and Sylvia. Times were hard and work was difficult to find, so in
1932 when the corner store became available, Harry rented it. There was an area
in the back of the store where he and his assistant cut hair. In front, Moe and
Archie managed the rest of the store. The custom-made oak cabinets held cigar
boxes, cigarettes, and a whole selection of dry goods. At the counter, they sold
soda-fountain drinks and hot dogs. More cabinets held books and comics.
Because of the competition
from many other stores and restaurants in the area, Moe Wilensky convinced his father to buy a
grill. The grill cost $68 and they paid 25 cents a week for it until it was paid
up. In the meantime, customers were asking, “Moe, could you make me something
special.” He played with combinations of salami and boloney until he came up
with a hit: The Wilensky's Special®!
In 1952, the store moved to its present location at 34 Fairmount Avenue, corner Clark Street.
Since it was another corner store, we took everything with us and moved it to the new site.
Not long after that, Harry retired and Archie opened up Snowdon Pocket Novels on Decarie Blvd.
Moe continued to run what became and continues to be Wilensky's Light Lunch.
Copyright © 2012 Wilensky's Light Lunch Inc. All rights reserved. Design by the Wilensky Family.