Another Hole in Montreal’s Heart

The lower Main in 1997. Photo by Kate McDonnell One of the defining features of Montreal’s cityscape is the abundance of vacant lots. Weedy, gravelly blocks of land, they can be seen in every neighbourhood, in some areas on every street, delineated by rows of misshapen concrete blocks, like boulders left behind by the retreat […]

Grace and Gracelessness

I often groan while looking at then-and-now photos, since the “now” is usually so bland and graceless compared to the “then.” This new compilation by Guillaume St-Jean, which depicts the corner of Sherbrooke Street and St-Laurent in Montreal, leaves me rather more dumbfounded. How on earth did that end up looking like this?

Manhattanhenge and Montrealhenge

Photo by Arianys León Twice a year, a few weeks before and after the summer solstice, the setting sun aligns perfectly with the east-west axis of Manhattan’s streets in a phenomenon that has been dubbed “Manhattanhenge,” a reference to the way the sun aligns with Stonehenge during the solstices. It got quite a bit of […]

The Main from Two Angles

St. Laurent Blvd. just below René Lévesque Blvd.

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Ominous Sky

8pm near the corner of St. Laurent and René Lévesque.

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Brisez la vitre open door

Earlier this year, when I marvelled at Boston’s still-functioning system of public fire alarm boxes, Kate McDonnell pointed out that Montreal once had such a system, too. Unlike Boston, though, Montreal removed all of its boxes, but one still stands outside the firefighters’ museum at Laurier and St. Laurent. Naturally enough, it’s bilingual.

Street Party for Spain

This morning, my friends—all of them Spain supporters, except for one, who kept quiet—decided to watch today’s Euro Cup final between Spain and Germany at the Club Español de Quebec, the unofficial hub of Montreal’s Spanish immigrant community. We arrived early, at noon, to secure a table and have lunch, but it was already packed. […]

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Chinatown’s Jewish History

If Chinatown’s Jewish heritage isn’t obvious, it’s probably because it has been erased by time and redevelopment, swept away like Chenneville St. and its quietly imposing synagogue. Makom: Seeking Sacred Space, an ongoing exhibition at Hampstead’s Dorshei Emet synagogue, examines the historical traces of Montreal’s Jewish community with photos of former synagogues near the Main. […]

Big Changes on the Upper Main

Bingo Villeray, demolished this week Major demolitions on the Main. Older buildings flattened and replaced by megastores, old folks’ homes, condos. Not the plot of a dystopian movie: it’s begun this summer on Boulevard Saint-Laurent above Jean-Talon, but the long shabby decline of that part of the street means it’s not at all necessarily a […]

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Yiddishkayt and Soviet Spies: Life on the Main

St. Lawrence above Duluth during an election campaign in 1950. Election signs in Yiddish, English, French and Russian can be seen For more than fifty years, from the turn of the twentieth century until the early 1950s, St. Lawrence Boulevard was the robustly beating heart of Montreal’s Eastern European Jewish community. Here, set amidst the […]

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A Landmark Leaves the Main

Browing $1 books during the Main Madness street fair Yesterday, a St. Laurent Blvd. institution began a new life on St. Viateur St. The bookstore S.W. Welch, which for 15 years has been a treasure trove of used English books on the Main, has moved to Mile End, pushed north, its owner says, by incessant […]

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The City in One Street

The past few months haven’t been kind to St. Laurent Boulevard, known locally as the Main. Work crews have been haphazardly tearing up the street, doing their best to scare away anyone in the mood for a light-hearted stroll. The local business association cheerfully warns its members to expect a twenty percent drop in business […]

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In the September Sun

Woman strolling on the Main, Montreal In the sun at the Roddick Gates, Sherbrooke Street, Montreal

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Sidewalk Spillover

Open Da Night (Café Olimpico) on the weekend, Montreal Ripple’s Ice Cream on the Main, Montreal

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