Paving Paradise

Paving Paradise: Lost Monuments of Montreal’s Golden Age of Jazz

David Foisy and Brendan Tully Walsh

Bar Painting

Opened in the autumn of 1928, Rockhead’s Paradise Café made its way into Montreal’s history, not only by breaking racial barriers for Montreal’s black community, but also by the vision of its founder, Rufus Nathaniel Rockhead.   The club became a success and a cornerstone of the city’s jazz scene during the halcyon decades of the 40s and 50s.  From its glittering “paradise” marquee, to its posh red leather doors, and what was boasted to be the longest bar in Canada, Rockhead’s was the very embodiment of the jazz mystique at a time when Montreal was one of the music’s main ambassadors.  

Our project provides an interactive journey into the soul of this unique establishment and the surrounding community through voices and visuals that recall its unique flavor.  Combining actual and recreated voices and visuals we will pay tribute to Rockhead’s Paradise, a lost monument that not only brought the great music of century to the city’s ears, but bridged racial gaps in this neighborhood to play a pivotal role in making it a true community.