A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

Harry Houdini And The Princess | Montreal In The Time Of Tramways

Vintage Retro Montreal | Vintage postcard of Montreal's theatre district including the Orpheum and Princess theatres | Harry Houdini | "St. Catherine Street, West, Montreal.

This vintage postcard (1910-1920) features a tram between two Montreal theaters: the Orpheum and the Princess.  Both were located on St-Catherine Street and neither exist today.  The Princess is the Montreal  theatre where the incident occurred that led to the death of wold-famous magician.

OrpheumBNQAs the story goes, Houdini had invited a McGill University student to do his portrait after his show at the Princess. At a certain point – in a test of Houdini’s strength – the student punched him in the stomach. Houdini left soon after for his next show in Detroit, and died there a few days later. After the Princess was torn down, the site was used for Wesley Congregational Church.  The Orpheum was originally called Bennett’s Theatre.  this helped me date the card since the change took place in 1910.



Related Posts

Index: Montreal In The Time Of Tramways

Index: Vintage postcards of  Montreal  City

Index: Vintage Postcards of Quebec


External Links

Orpheum Theatre / Théâtre Orpheum

Silent Cinema in Quebec, 1896-1930 – Cinema’s Exhibition Venues

Montreal Cinema History 1884-1929


November 20, 2009 - Posted by | . | ,


  1. Houdini had performed the “Punch in the stomach” trick successfully, several times on stage, however, he had always asked the puncher to give him time to set up for the punch (Time to steel his stomach muscles); however, the boy who hit him wasn’t aware that Houdini needed to prepare for the blow and hit him without any warning!
    (A tragic accident)


    Comment by Michel Jolin | January 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. The “Princess” shown on the postcard was never torn down. It was renamed “Le Parisien” in the early 1960’s (I saw “Goldfinger” there), and was “multiplexed” in the late 1970’s. It closed for movies about 5 years ago, and has been used for various purposes since. It is now a temporary Moore’s (men’s clothing store). This Google Streetview shows the area (probably about 2 years old):


    You can still barely make out the words “Le Parisien” on the building. The buildings on either side of it still exist – although the one further away looks like a couple of floors were added to it.

    Note the arch of the former “System” theatre on the left of the postcard. The building is still there – with the arch.


    Comment by Hugh Brodie | February 5, 2012 | Reply

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