Bird’s Eye Home

Park and Bernard

Park and Bernard

Since Google Street View has yet to arrive in Canada, the next best thing is the bird’s eye view feature offered by Bing, Microsoft’s ripoff/competitor/alternative to Google. Since the first thing one tends to do with these things is to find one’s home, my first instinct was to check out all of the different places I lived in Montreal. I started with my apartment on Park Avenue near Bernard, where I lived for four years. I’ve written enough about the apartment, street and neighbourhood that I probably don’t need to say anything more.

Park and Fairmount

Park and Fairmount

Before I moved up to Bernard and its wonderful world of cohabitation, Cheskie’s and tiny hole-in-the-wall deps, I lived further down Park, near Fairmount, in a 2 1/2 with no natural light. I liked living there, despite the fact that I had to keep the lights on even in the middle of the day — my apartment’s four windows gave onto a narrow courtyard and my only view was of the apartments across the way, a real Rear Window kind of situation. It was like a hideaway. Every day, when I emerged from my lair onto the street, it was a shock to find it sunny or raining or snowy, so isolated was I from anything going on outdoors.

Saint-Christophe

St. Christophe and Ontario

St. Christophe was a disappointing street. It should have been a nice place to live, if only because it was narrow and lined by cute houses, and it ran into a hill scaled by a rickety wooden staircase, but it was cold and unfriendly. There was no real neighbourhood feeling, just a bunch of people who happened to live next to one another. Even though it was just a couple of blocks from the busiest metro station in the city, most people who lived on the street seemed to drive, going by the number of cars parked overnight that disappeared during the workday. There was a park across the street that had a gazebo and a fountain and a sculpture of a sleeping dog, but I rarely saw anyone using it. The only consolation was the fact that Le Cheval Blanc, a good brewpub, was right around the corner, and while I lived there a dep opened on the corner of St. Christophe and Ontario, where I went every other night to buy samosas and beer.

live-sthenri-small

Rose de Lima and Lionel Groulx

My introduction to Montreal came from Solin Hall, an apartment-style student residence built in a former Baker’s chocolate factory in St. Henri, right next to Lionel-Groulx metro. I spent the first few weeks of my stay there wandering around St. Henri, poking around abandoned factories with my girlfriend, sitting in front of the statue of Jacques Cartier in St. Henri Park. In retrospect, though, I squandered everything that St. Henri had to offer, because in those early years I was completely infatuated by Mile End and the Plateau, which were so much more alive.

Living next to a metro transfer station was a blessing and a curse: it meant I could be just anywhere in Montreal in less than 30 minutes and, well, it meant I could get just about anywhere in less than 30 minutes — I had little incentive to stay in the neighbourhood. At least I got to know the rest of Montreal.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Thursday August 13 2009at 10:08 am , filed under Canada and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments are closed.