Lachine is an old working-class suburb of Montreal, located at the western end of the Lachine Canal. It’s like a bizarre country town lost in the industrial grime of the big city. Near the canal, twentieth-century duplexes sidle up to nineteenth-century cottages. The stop signs read “Stop” instead of “Arrêt.”
The atmosphere is that of provincial Quebec yet, somewhat unexpectedly, Lachine is diverse. Its main street is kept alive — though barely — but an eclectic mix of immigrant shopkeepers. On its west end is a French bakery run by a Cambodian man who commutes all the way from St. Michel. Nearby, a Somali couple from the West Island keep a halal butcher. Anglophone blacks sell Carribbean groceries. A Russian man deal used records. Across from the IGA supermarket, another grocery store caters to growing numbers of mainland Chinese.
Most surprising of all is a labyrinthine junk store run by an old couple from Texas. Their thick accents belie the fact that they’ve lived in Lachine for more than 30 years. For whatever reason, I have a much harder time of conceiving of Texan immigrants in Montreal I do Chinese, Somali or Cambodian immigrants. Not just in Montreal, but in Lachine, a place that exists beyond the imagination of pretty much anyone who does not live there.
Tags: Exploring the City, Montreal