My Old Apartment

Four years ago, on a freakishly cold April day, my girlfriend and I walked up Park Avenue in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal, heads pressed against the wind, to check out a third-floor apartment in a typical six-plex, the kind with the steep, curving outdoor staircase leading up from the street to a second-floor […]

Grey Fall Days

Quiet, grey autumn days in Mile End

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Reflections on Park Avenue

I’ve already left Montreal, but I still walk down Park Avenue in my mind. I start at Van Horne, the symbolic last street before the Canadian Pacific Railway overpass and the industrial area to the north. On the long block southward to Bernard, I pass a new Hasidic synagogue, a laundromat with Spanish signs owned […]

The Corner Phone Booth

Kristian Gravenor is building himself a reputation as Montreal’s foremost expert on phone booths. He explored their history in Montreal in a recent Gazette article, from the first wooden booths installed in hotel lobbies (“Each wooden telephone booth looked like a confessional, your very own downtown cabin — as they say in French — where […]

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“It’s Not Just Fabric on a Stick”

It wasn’t hard for Tristan Verboven to decide which country to support in the 2008 Euro Cup soccer championship. “Both my parents are Dutch and I’m a Dutch citizen, too,” the Montrealer said last week while sipping juice in a Park Ave. café. “I guess the idea of nationalism is kind of stupid because you […]

The Case for Greektown

Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s attempt to rename Park Avenue two years ago was a turning point in the street’s history. When that controversy emerged, a number of the street’s Greek merchants were already asking the city to create a Hellenic Quarter similar to Little Italy or Chinatown. The city spent $15,000 on a feasibility study that […]

Rebranding Park Avenue

The first banner was incongruous enough: “Avenue du Parc,” it read in a vaguely Hellenic font, set to a pale blue background. Underneath was the logo of the City of Montreal. Then, a couple of days later, I noticed other banners, these ones much more inscrutable: each featured a portrait of someone that was pulled […]

A Day in the Life of a Dépanneur

Owning a dépanneur has a big impact on your social life, says Yodh Ubhi, standing behind the counter of Dépanneur PMS at the corner of Park Ave. and Villeneuve St. “You have none,” Ubhi said. He’s not kidding. Ubhi’s hours—14 hours a day, seven days a week—would make most office workers weep. Every morning, he […]

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Another Park Avenue Rooftop

In October, I took you up to the roof of my friend’s triplex on Park Avenue. Here’s another roof further up the street. I’m always amazed to see Mount Royal from up there; on the street, it’s invisible, blocked by buildings.

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Ideas for An Awkward Space

On a crisp evening early last week, I joined about two dozen other people in a crowded studio on the fourth floor of McGill’s Macdonald-Harrington Building. We were there to see what ideas for reshaping the Pine/Park interchange four teams of McGill urban planning students, led by former Vancouve planning director Larry Beasley. I won’t […]

A Bank Shows Its Good Side

Not too long ago, I noticed that construction workers were doing some renovation work at the Laurentian Bank on the corner of Park and Laurier in Montreal’s Mile End. It wasn’t until I took a closer look that I realized that they were in fact removing the building’s marble cladding, revealing a much older Beaux-Arts […]

Views From a Park Avenue Rooftop

By now you must know about my love for viewing cities from on high. That’s true even from three storeys up. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Boris took me up to the roof of his building on Park Avenue. This was what we saw.

Dépanneur Weijia

I can’t remember what was there before Weijia. Another depanneur, sure, but obviously not a remarkable one. I’m not even sure it had a sign. But then, a couple of years ago, a friendly, middle-aged couple from the northern Chinese province of Shandong bought the depanneur and mounted a large vinyl banner that clearly announced […]

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An Introduction to Depanneurs

“Salut, monsieur!” Running in to grab a couple of beers, I’m greeted by the clerk. He’s an odd guy, with a closely shaved crop of black hair and a self-important, Duddy Kravitzesque charm that comes across whether he’s addressing you in English or French. There’s a bit of irony in his greeting, and in the […]