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?
Tags: Exploring the City, Revitalization, Small Towns