Two neighbourhoods have been home for me here in Montreal: Verdun, and now Villeray. I decided to walk from one to the other today, because that’s the kind of crashing bore I am.
My journey started at metro de l’église, where I stopped to photograph this beautiful church. Then I wandered up the quiet street and stopped at La Belle Province. They seemed to remember me there. I had a portion of fries and, while I waited, the cook complimented my shoes. They are hip hop shoes, yo, made by Phat Farm, and when I wear them, I have to make an extra special attempt not to do something stupid and unhip.
Whilst crunching on my fries, I continued my path northwards, crossing Canal l’Aqueduc, and entering the seldom-mentioned Ville Émard, which is one of the sleepiest, weirdest neighbourhoods in Montreal — at least in my opinion. It’s one of those places where you can’t figure out how any businesses ever survive because it always looks so desolate.
Things get curioser still as one approaches the Turcot Exchange, a maze of concrete highway confusion. I’ve mentioned Turcot Exchange before. I kind of like the picture I took below, which is one of the entrance roads to the Decarie Expressway.
Soon, the intrepid traveller finds him or herself at the Lachine Canal, the birthplace of Canadian industry. I could wander around the Lachine Canal all day long. There are old brick factories flanking the placid green canal, most of them out of use. Some of them look like they will fall on your head one day.
I left the historic heartland after 10 minutes or so and entered Place Sir Georges Etienne Cartier. In summer, the square — which is more of a park, really — has an active swimming pool, a favourite of families. Even on a brisk day such as today, the park itself still has oodles of kids and parents in it. As I sat and recouped for a bit, two kids kicked around a soccer ball. The little girl ran close by and called out to me, “Bonjour.” Is it just me, or have Montreal kids been instilled with less fear of strangers than their counterparts in other big American cities?
Rested, I continued onwards to Parc Saint Henri, which is for my money the most enchanted park in all of Montreal. I didn’t take a photo of it today because there are not yet any leaves on the trees, and to behold this park without its leafy majesty is like beholding a picture of Queen Victoria without her crown. I remembered how Monika and I sat in this park on the day that my cat Mina died. The tranquility of the surroundings seemed a salve of sorts.
Onwards — Westmount, Downtown, McGill Ghetto, and northward, alongside Mount Royal Park — or Parc du Mont Royal, if you prefer. Typically on a warm Sunday, you will find dozens — if not hundreds — of people gathered here for what has come to be known as the Tam Tams, a celebration of dance, drums, and petuli oil. Despite it being a Monday, there were people out today.
The origins of the Tam Tams are unknown. What I’ve heard is that local musicians, years ago, needed a place to jam, and simply chose this place. More people joined in, then more, then more. Voilà! It became a party! Come down with the whole family, and illicitly smoke a big reefer while you’re at it.
After blissing out for a while, listening to the tribal beat and watching the general joie de vivre, I continued up avenue du Parc, through Mile End, then Little Italy, arriving eventually at rue Jean Talon, where I went to my favourite pet store and purchased a large case of food for my cat, Banchi. Then it was back to Villeray, my home and native land!
All in all, a delightful day out. More photos here.