Shots and Corners

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Before I left Montreal, my geography geek friend Sam Imberman organized an event for all of the other geography geeks he knew. He called it “Shots and Corners.” For three hours, we walked through Little Italy, Outremont, Mile End and the Plateau to visit everyone’s favourite streetcorners.

We honoured each corner with a toast and a shot of various types of liquor. My corner was the intersection of Groll Avenue and the laneway between Esplanade and Jeanne-Mance, which I picked partly because I like the way it looks and partly because I’m the kind of annoying person who has a preference for the obscure. (My drink, in case you’re curious, was gin.)

I thought of this today after I found out that Google Street View has finally launched its coverage of Canadian cities. I’d been waiting for this for a long time, because it lets me vicariously explore places I haven’t been to (or revisit those I have).

So to commemorate Street View’s expansion, here are three of my favourite Canadian corners. St. Viateur and Waverly, which you see above, is where I feel most at home. There’s terraces on all four corners and a great view of St. Michael’s. It’s the epicentre of Mile End streetlife and it distills most of what I love about the neighbourhood into a single intersection.

Below is Augusta and Baldwin in Toronto’s Kensington Market. I like it because its combination of narrow streets, commercial bustle and clutter is unlike anything else in Canada. It’s reminiscent of the haphazard, small-scale backstreets of Asian cities like Seoul, Taipei, Macau and Bangkok, where signs compete for attention, shops spill into the street and buildings have evolved and expanded informally.

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Finally, there’s Hastings and Main, which is the quintessential Vancouver corner. Its architecture is a reminder of the cocksure early years of a frontier metropolis, but its streetlife is something different altogether, a combination of drug addicts, Chinatown shoppers and people transferring from one bus line to another. There’s an open-air drug market in front of the beautiful Carnegie Library on the southwest corner, but it’s not an unfriendly place; there’s often music and people dancing.

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

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