Montreal’s Lampposts

Montreal has a particularly varied collection of lampposts. They often seem to change from street to street, reflecting different eras with different design tastes. In Westmount, and on Esplanade Avenue facing Jeanne-Mance Park, vintage lampposts dating back to the 1920s or 30s still stand. Similarly old light standards, engraved with the city’s coat of arms, […]


Sometimes, while taking in a stereotypically southern scene like this, I give into cliché and let my mind drift to Charles Aznavour’s Emmenez-moi: Moi qui n’ai connu toute ma vie Que le ciel du nord J’aimerais débarbouiller ce gris En virant de bord Emmenez-moi au bout de la terre Emmenez-moi au pays des merveilles Il […]

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The Montreal North Riot

[youtube]uZ_kgFcFGy8[/youtube] Montreal is no stranger to riots. Over the course of its history, it has seen political riots, sports riots, nationalist riots and punk riots. From 1844 to 1849, Montreal was the capital of a united Canada, but imperial authorities stripped it of that status after rioters (most of them conservatives angry over the supposedly […]

Le spécialiste du melon d’eau

Watermelon stand at the Jean Talon Market

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Scenes from Away

Early in 2007, when the city was under cover of snow, somebody stapled pictures of lush gardens and inviting squares onto the wooden hydro poles around Mile End. “This is where we make good on life,” it was written below one of the photos. It was a nice gesture, reminding us that gentler weather was […]

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Hoisting the Warning

If you’re not the type who constantly follows the weather, it’s a bit of a surprise when you see that a typhoon warning has been “hoisted,” as people in Hong Kong so quaintly put it. The first indications appear in office buildings, MTR stations and shopping malls: little signposts bearing a somewhat cryptic T1 logo, […]

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An Unexplored Alley

For all of the things I’ve written about exploring Montreal’s laneways, and in particular those of Mile End, there are still some alleys close to home that I have never, for reasons that are beyond me, wandered down. In fact, when I walk through the lanes near home I usually take the same ones, probably […]

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No-Name Deps

The old axiom “build it and they will come” certainly applies to dépanneurs. You don’t need an attractive façade, windows or even a sign — as long as people know that it’s a dep, and that they can purchase there the holy trinity of Montreal needs (beer, lotto and cigarettes), they will come. The city […]

Following My Father

My father was born in 1919 in Leigh, then a mining town near Manchester, now part of its urban agglomeration. His parents were both of Irish background, part of a wave of people who had migrated there to find work in the Lancashire mines and mills. He was an only child. By the time he […]

“To the Glory of God”

Chinese United Church, Second Avenue SW, Calgary

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Not Montreal’s Smallest Park, But Close

“It’s not much of a park,” said Jocelyne, a middle-aged woman sitting on a bench in St. Henri, gesturing to the small green space behind her. “It’s okay, but you can’t call it a park because it really isn’t one. There’s no place to wander, nowhere for kids to play. It’s just two benches and […]

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