La Belle Province


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Ugly building on the main street of Saint Georges de Beauce

Many of Quebec’s smaller cities are grim, depressing places. Like most cities in North America, they witnessed a period of downtown decline during the suburban explosion of the fifties and sixties. People moved out, shops closed, and buildings were razed and replaced by parking lots. Many places reached their nadir of ugliness in the seventies and eighties with the proliferation of cheap corrugated cladding and other experimental building materials.

Since then, cities like Quebec, Montreal, and Trois-Rivières took stock of the situation and invested in revitalization. But many smaller cities have continued to deteriorate. They’re fascinating to walk through-they feel like a time-warp-but I wouldn’t want to live there.

In some cities, like Dolbeau-Mistassini on Lac Saint-Jean, the decay is the result of the general industrial decline in the area. Other cases are harder to explain, like Sherbrooke, Saint-Georges de Beauce, Alma, and Gatineau – growing regional cities with unemployment rates that are considerably lower than the provincial average. Why are they so ugly?

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Main Street, Saint Georges de Beauce


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Main Street, Mistassini

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The architecture of Alma

This entry was written by Patrick Donovan , posted on Thursday July 24 2008at 09:07 am , filed under Architecture, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “La Belle Province”

  • Esther says:

    I was looking at photos of Saint-Georges for something when I got to your blog. Saint-Georges is horrible isn’t it? I grew up there and I guess they are so ugly because people there are hard workers and don’t seem to care much. It is not a city of tourism much and most of the stores there are there to service the people who live there…there’s no need to impress them. I feel like the city itself has so much potential because of the river but alas, I don’t think it’s in the population’s mentality to embellish it there. On the flipside, the neighboring farm towns are breathtaking.

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