An Ecoterritory

Here is about the best shot of Turcot Yards and it’s surroundings you are ever likely to see. It is taken from this page by the City Of Montreal that takes a look at it’s 10 Ecoterritories.

The length of Turcot is somewhat compressed here. For anyone who is interested it takes about 40 minutes to walk from the Turcot Interchange in the backgrouind to the Angrignon Overpass in the foreground, providing you don’t stop to check anything out.

From this page the City says in relation to it’s green policies, “Montréal, a city which has lost 75 hectares of wood each year over the past decade, became the first municipality in Québec to adopt a policy to protect and enhance natural habitats in December 2004.”Seems like a damage control statement to me as the city’s record on allowing development into “protected” areas is a joke. In fact, aerial photography of the island in 1988 showed that depletion of “green cover” was already past the “boiling” point. Despite some glossy rhetoric and the creation of the Ecoterritories- all of which have been severely encroached upon by development in recent decades- the current admistration appears to be as insensitive to the reality of the need for the redevelopement of the island as a healthy, sustainable, environment as were administrations past.

I look at the picture above and it is not too hard to imagine how it once may have been with the Riviere Saint Pierre running the length of Turcot and Otter Lake where the Interchange now is. I see how the Falaise Saint Jacques (the green strip that runs the north side of Turcot Yards) can connect with the Lachine Canal (A bike/pedestrain crossing over highway 20) and the neighborhoods of NDG ( the road already exists!) on the left, not to mention Saint Henri which lays beyond the Interchange. There is a tremendous opportunity for Montreal to join the rest of the world by going “Sustainable” at Turcot Yards.

This year Walking Turcot Yards is going to place more emphasis on the Falaise Saint Jacques and look at ideas, people, and creative solutions for Turcot Yards.

56 responses to “An Ecoterritory

  1. Otter Lake may have spread out to the west end of Turcot. It’s pretty much accepted that the Lachine Canal was built through swamps and creeks which the aboriginal people may have used to bypass the rapids. Tell me more about the cryptic sign.


  2. Interesting view — It sure doesn’t look from that image like it takes 40 minutes to walk between the two points. Looking forward to coming year of observations and photos!

  3. you know how there’s like a second level to Turcot? theres high grass and there’s a little staircase and just this little sign that says “Otter Lake” but there’s no lake…obviously. I found it weird because there’s an Otter Lake near my parents where I grew up in the Gatineau Valley.

  4. I know the sign you mean, Kathleen. Turcot was also what they call a “hump” yard, so it s possible that that section was actually raised so that train cars could then just roll down to the sidings they wanted to move them to. But the high grass stuff is very cool, makes me like to think that maybe the lake is gradually reclaiming it’s own land.

  5. I have spent a while looking at the aerial photo. I feel I know the place; but for me it is also strange. I grew up a handful of pixels just off the lower left corner of the image. And in 1968 I left Montreal to join the staff of the new planetarium in Toronto — so I remember those structures as just-built. For me, the construction in Turcot Yards was part of the excitement and preparation for Expo 67. The ramps were new and cars would float quickly through the air past places that had been pokey neighbourhoods. Part of the strangeness of the new expressways was the streetlamps embedded in the guardrails. Actually I don’t think that was a great idea. At night it turned the cars into silhouettes, and it must have made snow removal from the lighted panels difficult.

    So here you show the yards as an abandoned place, and there are plans to scrap the road system. BTW, do you know exactly where the old roundhouse was located? As a child, looking down at that wonderful place from somewhere up on the cliff was part of every trip into town. The last time I was in Montreal, I was delighted to see that the tower on the Lachine Canal that was part of the coke plant was still there. My sister and I could sit for hours watching it in operation.

  6. Sure. Remember, my view was from the Montreal West end.

    That is Brock Avenue South in the lower left of the picture. There was a time when you could walk down Brock and across highway 20 to a little community. There was a U-shaped street there with trees and 2-story wood-framed houses.

    All of that had to go in preparation for developing that space; so eventually all of those houses were empty and needed to be demolished.

    At that time the fire department was experimenting with extinguishing fires using a fogging technique instead of simply blasting a strong stream of water into the structure. So, one by one, they burned those houses to the ground.

    Our whole neighbourhood gathered for the event. It was amazing to watch a building be deliberately torched and allowed to burn. They would conduct the experiments — but in the end the object was to bring the structure down. Sometimes the last act was knocking down the masonry chimney with a jet from the fire hose. I remember the affair as exciting, even educational, but not really a happy event.

    Sometime after that an office building appeared in that space. I don’t remember much about this, so it could have been after I left. The odd thing about that building was that there must have been a huge geotechnical error made in the planning. The building sank and tilted – a little like the Tower of Pisa. The building was condemned and was vacant for a long time. Eventually it was demolished.

    More later…

  7. Fascinating, I sure wish there was more documentation of those times available. I bet there might be something in the archives of the fire department and Transport Quebec, or whoever was behind the projects in those days.

    It was must have been something to see the Lasalle Coke Crane in operation.

    I know I have probably seen them but I just can’t recall ships in the canal.

  8. Until I read your blog I never knew that there was a name for the steep slope that seems to define the north verge of Turcot Yards: “Falaise Saint Jacques.” Nevertheless, it is a prominent geological feature, and I’ve often wondered how it was formed. I think the word falaise refers to a cliff, but I suspect that it is more of an escarpment. In the photo it is a fairly straight line that extends all the way from downtown Montreal.

    That hill seems to wrap around the western border between Montreal West and Ville St-Pierre. I lived a couple of houses from the crest of that hill. My bedroom window gave me a view over highway 20, the Lachine Canal, to the Mercier Bridge and distant hills in the USA.

    In the 60s I remember an amazing event. There was a huge fire at the La Salle Monsanto plant. We had a view of it looking over the Turcot Yards from atop Falaise Saint Jacques. There must have been many drums or tanks of flammable chemicals, because the most dramatic events were sudden large balls of roiling fire and black smoke thundering skyward. Many seconds later we would hear a muffled boom.

    Although I don’t remember the date, I’ve just found a reference to October 13, 1966, “Monsanto chemical plant fire kills 11, La Salle (PQ).”

  9. I remember hearing about that. There was also 2 large “gasometer” type tanks in the Angrignon Park/Newman blvd area that were taken down in the late 60’s. I grew up in Verdun which was great for access to the river but no cool views (except for Nun’s Island before the development)like you had over there.

  10. The La Salle Coke crane was only one of the wonders of the Lachine Canal. I could not actually see the water of the canal from my window; but if I looked above the roof of that long factory that was on the south side of Highway 20 (BTW, I think that was Highway 2 &17 in those days, but I’m not sure) I could see the ships gliding along. I didn’t need to look to know that there was a boat there — they had to blow their horns to have the operator raise the bridge to the south of Ville St-Pierre. At night I’d watch the ships’ lights move steadily across my viewscape. Once and a while a military vessel would pass. We’d know because instead of a horn we would hear a loud ‘woop-woop.’ If the ship was not visible we figured it was a submarine.

    I thought that the lift bridge itself was a grand gadget. It had one of those decks that pivoted up with a huge cement counterweight on the north side.

    Working locks on the canal are magnificent water machines of mystery and power.

  11. This thread has me thinking about Montreal West in the 40s, 50s and 60s. To the west of our house was a 15 acre farm owned by the Decarie sisters. They lived in a huge Victorian house surrounded by a couple of barns and a smaller house for the hired hand. One of the barns served as real icehouse. As a kid I can remember in the heat of summer digging down in the wet sawdust to find the blocks of ice.

    The farm took up the flat space to the south of Blue Bonnets Hill (the hill that led from Montreal West to Ville St-Pierre), and flowed down the now gentle slopes of Falaise Saint Jacques to the railroad tracks. In the winter, that part of the Falaise was excellent for tobogganing.

    My Dad told me that at one time the farm was known for growing the Montreal Melon. When I asked what that was he said that it was like a cantaloupe, and was similar to the Oka Melon.

    I just did a search to see if anyone else ever heard of the Montreal Melon, and was surprised to find this URL:

    The web site is authored by Debra Aubin. I remember our family buying outstanding sweet corn from Aubin’s farm, but I cannot remember where it was.

  12. There won’t be any more tobogganing down that hill on the Decarie Farm. The property was subdivided in the late 50s.

    However, I did look at the Falaise St-Jacques with Google Earth. It is an amazingly long contiguous strip of green space in an urban setting. I was wondering about the ecological values of that hill. Does it contain any interesting wildlife, migrating birds, or species of plants? It looks as if it has been ignored all of these years. Rue St-Jacques is somewhat removed from the crest, and the hill itself seems to be along the back of the properties on the south side of the road. Does the City own the hill itself? As the Turcot Yards are developed, should the Falaise have some park status? Is there any community of people who care about it?

    I see that Rue St-Jacques is now called Avon Road through Montreal West. I recall that as the “Upper Lachine Road.” Earlier I mentioned that the section of that road that is cut into the Falaise and leads down to Ville St-Pierre was once called Blue Bonnets Hill. I believe it refers to caps of soldiers marching down that hill, but I cannot tell you their destination war.

    One of the reasons that I was looking at Google Earth was to see if I could figure out the site of the roundhouse. I recall that the road (was it called Rue St-Jacques then?) descended the Falaise just below the Westmount train yards. I suspect that was the only place that I would have been able to look out of the car window and see the roundhouse below.

    BTW, I think I remember my father calling that hill: Tannery Hill. There must have been a tannery somewhere thereabouts, but I didn’t know about it.

    • Good day Robert and thank you for the stories. Of particular interest is the use of fog nozzles to extinguish those fires at the bottom of Brock and your memories of Blue Bonnets hill. Scottish soldiers excavated the road from Avon down into Ville St. Pierre in anticipation of an American attack around the time of The battle of Chateauguay. Those soldiers were known as “Blue Bonnets”. There was a tavern and stage coach halfway house built under the same name and this was close to the original location of the Blue Bonnets horse race oval until 1886 when Canadian Pacific cut the track in half with the railway at Westminster. Montreal West was founded on the land of Blue Bonnets. Roy

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  14. I bought a wonderful book a few years ago called Magnetic North, all about the age of steam (and later) in Canada. There are many gorgeous photos of the Montreal area yards and stations, including the roundhouses.

    Now I simply MUST find that Otter Lake sign.


  15. Maybe just beyond the now blocked gate at Pullman? I’m scanning navurb, trying to locate it. there is a path from behind the old Rose Bowl, down into the yards, which is quite clear on navurb and Google maps, but that’s not all way to the west.

  16. And I take it it’s right against the escarpment? I need more to go on! I want to see this thing.

  17. not on the escarpment. If you notice a strong line of growth in the northwest end, it is on the south side of that growth, the stairs take you from one side of the growth to the other.

  18. Hmmm, it’s funny. I was driving on the 20E and looked across to the yards, and just about when I was even with the little bike path parking lot on Notre Dame, I caught a glimpse of a little staircase cutting through the long line of reeds.

    I’d gone out there on my bike last weekend, and found another line of growth, but way out in the furthest West end of the yards, west even of the Angrignon overpass. Almost as soon as you turn onto Pullman from St. Jacques at the Raphael Motel, you can cut across the filed to a little hill down to the tracks. Those reeds grow in a long line there too, and go about 200m to where the yards really end at the 20 in the west. I found zip, except for some nice rusty spikes for my garden.

    But when I saw the stairs over in the main part of the yards, well, I mean how many little wooden staircases can there be?

    I will check it out next week some time.


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  21. The Turcot roundhouse used to be directly below the CPR Glen/Westmount yards and was accessed by a path down the escarpment just East of where old Decarie is.

    To access Turcot by road, you turned South on St Remi, then West on Pullman I think it was, to get to the rear of the roundhouse.

    Fascinating place to be when steam locomotives were still in use.

    We used to sit at the South end of Decarie and watch them service the engines.

    As the engine arrived from a run, it dropped it’s fire into a water-filled pit between the rails where the fire was quenched, in a cloud of steam. A large overhead travelling crane with a clamshell bucket then moved the wet ashes to waiting gondolas for use as fill along the line.

    The engine without a fire then moved East on it’s own steam into a wooden-walled Blow Down Pen where most of the hot water from the boiler was drained out.

    This made a thunderous ROAR and a huge cloud of steam.

    Minerals and treatment from the water collected so the rails were buried right up to their heads, looking like streetcar track.

    The engine was then moved onto the turntable and into the roundhouse for maintenance, the rest of the water being drained inside.

    There were other outbound engines getting coal and water.

    The coal chute was to the West of the roundhouse was, in all, about 1/4 mile long, with a long-sloped trestle up which coal hoppers were shoved by a Yard Engine into the covered tower from the West end.

    The coal was dumped into bins beneath the track in the tower, and engines on paralled tracks below took coal into their tenders from chutes on the bottom of each side of the tower.

    In 1961 we spent the summer watching them scrap over 110 steam locomotives at Turcot. Sad, and never able to be forgotten.

    We used to take the 106 Upper Lachine bus along U L road and go down the STEEP road at the East side of Rose Bowl lanes to get into the Yards.

    It was a thrill going down on a bike!

    In winter the City of Montreal used to go down the same road with trucks of snow to dump once the tracks were lifted in 1960s.

    The City Yard was almost right across the street.

    LaSalle Coke used to quench coke, and each time a huge cloud of steam would rise for almost a mile in the air, especially in winter.

    Until 1956 or so, all the gas used in the city was provided by LaSalle Coke and stored in the rising tanks once so prominent.

    The Natural Gas arrived by pipeline from the West in 1957?, spelling the doom, ultimately, of LaSalle Coke.

    The crane still extant by the canal was emptied by small narrow-gauge coal cars on a cable which cirulated into the plant proper South of St. Patrick St. at CPR Power Jct.

    When a canaller was being unloaded they wrapped the wheelhouse and aft quarters on the boat with canvas as coal would blow from the clamshell bucket and also rain down on your car if you stopped to watch the unloading.

    If you had binoculars, you could watch the coal cars circulating from the foot of Decarie.

    CNR changed from steam to electric or vice vera on passenger trains at Turcot East on Central Station Trains.

    Montreal Tramways used to run along the South side of Turcot Yard thru to Lachine.

    After the Lachine streetcar line came off there was an exclusive autobus-only road along the North side of the Lachine Canal from Cote St. Paul to 6th in Ville St. Pierre.

    There was a gatehouse about midway to stop unauthorized use of the bus road.

    I too remember the explosion at Monsanto, sounded like a cat jumping off the bed in the next room.

    A year or two earlier there was an apartment block in La Salle ( on Rue Bergevin??? ) that exploded from Natural Gas, killing several people. We could see the smoke out our kitchen window.

    Around 1962 a private house blew up on Beaconsfield Ave. just North of Sherbrooke.

    One day we were coming in from Dorval on the 2-17 and could see the houses on fire at Brock South of the highway, just across from the Raphael Ruffo Motel, and immediately rode our bikes down.

    Going down Brock was a thrill on a bike, too!

    We rode around the still-smoldering ruins on lower Brock and on the next dead end street to the West, expecting to get yelled at by a cop or fireman at any time.

    There was no one around! but, we expected trouble, and did not trespass.

    In the above photo of Turcot West the lower end of Brock would be where the 4 tracks enter the underpass from the East at the very bottom of the photo.

    Right at the bottom of Brock was CNR Turcot West where departing trains received their Train Orders and there was a small station and Semaphore signals.

    There used to be a single-track level crossing at this location of the CNR crossing 2-17 which went by Consumers Glass in VSP, then around West of CPR Sortin Yard and thru to Vertu and thence to Jacques Cartier Jct. just South of Bordeaux Jail.

    Old CNR at that time still passed thru Lachine to Dorval along with Tramways out to Dixie.

    Montreal Tramways paralleled the CNR thru to 6th Ave in Lachine by Dominion Bridge, ( the tracks can still be seen under the pavement on William MacDonald East of 6th ) then the MTC went South on 6th to Notre Dame then West to 34th, North to Broadway, West on Broadway to 45th, then North to the CNR and once again parallel out to Dixie on the border with Dorval.

    Rue Victoria is basically situated on the old CNR line from Turcot to Dorval.

    At 6th ave in Lachine, CNR once had a station named Dominion.

    CNR Lachine station was then at 34th and Broadway.

    Thank You.

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  23. I lived right next to the Montreal West train station, and had the opportunity to enjoy the hissing and spitting of the huge majestic Steam Engines, ‘way back in the 50’s. The thunder of the engines as they “chugged” out of the station was so thundrous and powerful. Next stop was Westmount. In the middle you passed Elmhurst Avenue (at the bottom of which was Elmhurst Dairy with the best ice cream cones in the world for $.10 – later Sealtest – with the two cow-heads on the billboard next to the main entrance on Upper Lachine Road (later Avon Road) – then you passed through NDG (Notre Dame de Grace) and then Marcil Avenue, Girouard Avenue and finally Decarie Boulevard (at the bottom of which was the Rose Bowl Lanes, the A&W Drive-In, and NITTOLO’s Restaurant, Motel, Lounge and Gardens – then on to Westmount Station – near the Glen – where POM (Pride of Montreal) Bakery was situated and also Readers Digest Offices on Redfern Avenue – and then onwards to downtown. …………. and it was only $.10

    Val Frost and Bubbles, my Newfoundland Service Dog

  24. Butch Racine

    I grew up in NDG in the fifties and sixties. I remember as a boy going to Turcot yard to catch frogs in the many swamp areas that were there. Some of my friends would actually swim in that water. I remember hearing that a young boy drowned in one of those swamps. I also remember the trains and us kids putting pennies on the tracks for the trains to flatten. At that time the whole area was open and you could walk to the canal and watch the ships.
    There was some kind of junk yard that I seam to remember down there that we would go hunting through. I remember walking those train tracks to where all the trains would stop and empty coal or whatever it was into water. It would make a load noise and steam would be everywhere. I also remember watching the locomotive go on this big wood thing that would actually turn the train around facing the other way. We would wave to the conductors and they would wave back at us. People seemed to be a whole lot friendlier back then.
    As a young teenager I worked for a nice man(Mr. Harding) who owned a beer store and he used to say that when they build the new highway 2 and 20 people would stop using Sherbrooke street to get downtown and that will kill all the business.
    I also remember that Otter Lake sign. It’s been there for ever.
    It was a time that seemed to last forever when I was a boy I wish I could go back.

    Butch Racine

    • The one thing about our memories, we can always return to those places inside of our minds, so technically speaking, Butch, you just did visit that place again, and the best part about it, was that you took us with you along the way. I recall catching a baby Coachwhip snake down in the “yards” and bringing it home. It was so pretty and it looked abandoned. My mother thought different, so I had to bring it back – but I left it in a safer area where it could easily hide from predators.
      My memory often carries back to being on the telephone with someone when the gigantic black “iron horse” would pull into the Montreal West Station, and suddenly the incredible “hissssssssssssssssssssss” of the steam would emanate through the area as the breaks were applied and it shut itself down to a stop. Folks on the phone would say: “What is that terrible sound?” to which I would always respond: “That, my friend, is music to my ears.”
      Then the world went to Diesel engines, and the nostalgia disappeared.
      But it remains embedded forever in my memories, my dreams and my sounds of “music to my heart” when I am feeling otherwise down.
      The old Steam Engines were the powerful inventions that brought the newly-landed peoples from all over Europe to all parts of Canada and the US and elsewhere, so that they could find a new and permanent home.
      Kids today don’t have these panoramic views of the past, but we do, and we are truly blessed to be able to visit them every now and then.

      Take care, and thanks so much for the “visit” once again. I feel young already.

      Val Frost and Bubbles, my 165-lb Newfoundland Service Dog

    • Hi, my dad grew up in NDG around the same time and had to move when he was 5. He told me about a friend he had named Butch.. This wouldn’t happen to be you would it?

      • I don’t know. What’s your dads full name? What street in NDG did he live on? What school?

  25. You have a really good memory cdnlococo. You must be a couple of years older than I am but I remember most of what you’ve written here.
    The coke plant. Was that the long building along the canal with all the broken windows in it?
    I remember the Monsanto explosion. My brother in law worked there his whole life and retired from it. Luckily it wasn’t on his shift however he did know some of the workers that got killed.
    I also remember the explosion on Beaconsfield. We heard it from our house and went to explore the scene. I remember seeing clothing in the trees around the house. A few days later we went to the funeral parlour on Sherbrooke cause someone knew the daughter who was killed. It was the first time I saw a deceased person and it bothered me for sometime afterwards.

    I was a young teenager when they started tearing up decarie ave. to start building the Decarie expressway. There was a street called Minto ave that they tore down. It used to have barns on it where they kept horses. There were Beat Nics that hung around that area too.
    There was also this kinda ledge that we would ride our bikes off of. Then we’d shoot up to chalet BBQ for the best fries in town and a coke in a green bottle. I don’t think coke ever tasted as good as when it was in those small green bottles.

    I remember that wooden walled building where the trains would go into and then this thundering sound. At the time I didn’t know what they were doing and we wouldn’t go there cause it was outta bounds for kids and if the CN police saw you they’d catch you and take you home to your parents which did happen to me twice. My mom would tell me to stay away from the train yard but as kids you just couldn’t yourself. There were so many things to hunt with your slingshots and BB guns.

    I left for over twenty years and was surprised to see how it changed when I came back. All the trains were gone. All the buildings gone. All the swamps that we caught frogs in as kids…gone. However the chalet BBQ is still there and I think I’ll go and have a fry and a coke.

  26. Hi Val.
    Thanks for your kind words.

    I remember Elmhurst dairy. My friends (David Smeal) dad worked there. He was a milk man. He took us there one Saturday and showed us the horses.
    I remember when it became Sealtest with the new sign with the cow heads on it. I also remember the ice cream cones we could buy.
    There was a Coca Cola plant nearby that we’d go to and sometimes the guy there would give us a soda.

    As a kid we used to get on the bus at Elmhurst and ride it all the way to Atwater then hide behind the seat so the bus driver didn’t see us and come all the way back. I’m sure the conductor knew but as a kid it was an adventure.

    I lived on Hillcrest ave in Ville st Pierre for a couple of years in the early 70’s.
    I went to visit a few weeks ago but it’s blocked off. We ended up driving around to lachine to get there.
    Wasn’t there a train station on Westminister?

    There was a garage on Westminister (between sherbrooke/ULR) that a friend of mine was a mechanic in. I think It also sold cars. Do you remember the name of it.

    • There was Montreal West Auto at the corner of Westminster Avenue South and Broughton Avenue, which ran parallel to the train tracks at the Montreal West Train Station. At Elmhurst Dairy, I recall the stables. I believe it was Guaranteed Dairy prior to Sealtest. Long ago. In Ville St. Pierre there was a hardware store I believe called Crevier’s. Also a real genuine French butcher shop with sawdust on the floor. Just when you came up from Ville St. Pierre, the Montreal West Town Hall was on your left-hand side as you stopped at the intersection in front of the Esso Service Station. Behind the Town Hall was the Montreal West High School and the town skating rink in winter.

      There was a part of the St. Jacques St. that was named Avon Road, from about Connaught Avenue to Elmhurst Avenue – and in that area was the International Correspondence School, across form the Eventide Home for the elderly folks.

      I think that about caps it for now.
      You should visit my FB page to see photos of my Newfoundland Service Dog who is presently bugging me, as I have a migraine coming on, so I will let you go for now. Take care my friend. Hope this brings back some more memories to you.

      Val and Bubbles

  27. The Coca-Cola bottling plant was the big brick building that covered about the entire corner (as its garages and trucks were all enclosed at the back) all the way down the east side of WestBroadway Avenue and St. Jacques (corner), and it was next to the SKF plant – which was just about near the Cavalier Motel on the north side of St. Jacques, across from the Belvedere Motel – just where the 2 and 20 came up the hill to St. Jacques. You could watch all of the machinery – so shiny and bright silver (i.e. steel/aluminum whatever) through the big windows on St. Jacques.

    The good old Chalet Bar-B-Q.
    Girouard park.
    The Decarie Expressway – which always flooded in heavy rainstorms.
    Garland Bus Terminal up in Snowdon (north Decarie area) – Ville St. Laurent
    Richelieu Race Track
    Back in the 50’s the streetcars would all turn around at the Garland Terminal.
    Ruby Foo’s famous restaurant.
    The Snowdon Theatre
    Then along Sherbrooke into Westmount – The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
    The Chateau Bar-B-Q
    The Westmount Theatre
    The YMCA directly across from Westmount Park with the gigantic floral clock with its solid steel roman numerals – all motorized. An Italian gardener decorated that clock every single year. It was so impressive. The Park had a pond for sailing your remote control boats at the Sherbrooke Street end of it. And there were play areas and millions of squirrels who were so friendly and I would spend hours just feeding them.

    Then on along Sherbrooke to Redfurn Avenue – Readers Digest HQ, then St. Paul’s Academy, and then St. Leo’s Academy, and then the Ascension Church, the Avenue Theatre and onwards to Atwater Avenue – The Montreal Forum – the bus terminus and the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

    Hope it brings back some happy memories for you.
    Val and her Newfoundland Service Dog, Bubbles (165-lbs)

    • I remember all those places. Most of them are gone. Some of the buildings are still there but they’ve been renovated. I left in the 70’s and came back in the 2000’s. I was shocked at how much had changed. Chalet BBQ is still there and is the same as it was in the 50’s when I first went there.

      I was a young teenager when I watched them build the Decarie expressway.
      I watched them tear all those buildings and houses down on Minto ave. Luckily they left the west side of Addington alone and the Chalet survived.

      I hung around NDG park and even saw a movie at the Empress theatre. I remember the police would park their motorcycles on Sherbrooke and go have coffee at the Empress tea room.
      I remember throughing sticks up at the chestnuts in the chestnut trees that were all through the park. I remember going skating at the ice rink they had
      and trying to impress the girls with my skating maneuvers.

      I remember that clock and the flowers. I remember that boys could’nt go shirtless through Westmount. The police would stop you and make you put your shirt back on.

      We would walk from NDG along Sherbrooke to Atwater then St Catherine.
      We would get a kick outta watching the Go-Go dancers in the upper window of whatever club it was on st Catherine st in 1967. Looking in the windows of Eatons, Ogilvy’s and Morgans. Making our way down to Daper Dan’s where we would get our Lee jeans. The streets were full of people and every face was shinning. You would always meet someone you knew. And the world just seemed smaller than it does today.

      When I was gone all those years I would think of those places and pine for a familiar face. Recently I caught up with a dozen old fiends that I hung out with in the 60’s. we get together at a couple of Cafe’s on Sherbrooke in NDG. We’re all in our 60’s and glad to still be here. God bless

      • Wow! Right! Good old St. Catherine Street and all the huge department stores with the TV’s in the main windows showing some kind of program. That was exactly where – Eaton’s I think – where I saw the assassination of Kennedy on the TV. We were all in total shock! All of us, total strangers, looking in the store window, when the motorcade was being televised in Dallas. So we stopped to watch and enjoy. NOT!
        Ogilvy’s had the old criss-cross iron door elevators (the antique ones) and beautiful young ladies as the Elevator Operators, who wore the Ogilvy tartan pleated skirts, white frilly blouses and white gloves, and they would conveniently call out what was on each floor for those in the elevator. It was just such a classic place to shop. (being Scottish/Welsh Canadian, I really appreciated shopping there – or even just to browse around). Anyways, Ogilvy’s main windows, at Christmastime, had a gigantic wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor wood-carved town with all moving people and parts and such – the crowd outside their window was “mesmerized” by the incredible detail and movements of all of the hundreds of figures and charicatures. I never forgot that.
        Then when I worked at Expo ’67, the Czechoslovakian Pavilion had an identical entire mural, all hand-carved in wood, and totally mobile. Brought back the Ogilvy’s memories.
        Morgans – the highest priced of all the department stores.
        Lee jeans – yupper – I was wearing my Lees when a rambunctious bus boy ram–rodded into a waitress carrying a tray of freshly filled coffee pots – steaming hot and black coffee – and one landed in my lap. My left arm ended up with second degree burns which when I ran down to the ladies room and poured cold water over my arm and then grabbed about 50 sheets of toiled tissue and made a poultice for my arm when the waitress came running in with the most GIGANTIC tube of OZONOL burn cream that I have ever seen in my life. Applied the poultice, brought my sweater sleeve back down over it to hold it in place, and went back upstairs to eat my dinner. What I missed, was that fact that the bus boy made the extreme error of grinning at what happened, and my 6 foot 2 1/2 inch – 220 pound – transport trucker husband (at the time) hauled right off and decked the sob. What really ticked me off, was that I missed that!
        Anyhow, still obviously in shock from the severe burn, I finished all my lunch, had dessert and then a cup of tea to relax and then we left. My legs???? They got the majority of the pot full of the black steaming coffee – nothing!!!!!!!!! The Lee jeans saved my skin – literally! Funny what you remember with just two words: “Lee jeans”. Those were surely the days, my friend.
        1976 changed Quebec and Montreal. Its personality altered. However, the essence of the Montrealer has never really left us, so that’s the important part. Unfortunately, over the decades, I have found that our so-called “progress” has actually worked in the reverse, and instead of PROgressing, we appear to be severely DIgressing. One day at a time. The memories of the times of which you and I are sharing, are the sparks that keep our engines running and our memories keen. Happy and fun memories will keep us young far after our bodies bite the bullet.
        I’m 64 years young now and my sidekick is a 165-lb Newfoundland Service Dog, and we are quite the comedy team when we get going. I rescued her 4 years ago when she really needed a better home, and since we met, she has been “rescuing” me. Two additional diagnoses have made her job more complex, but she handles it like a pro. God had a plan and He put us together and each day we look after each other. Her breeder calls us a “marriage made in heaven” – and I believe her. Take care. Think positive. Works for us.

      • OMG I forgot about those gals in their pleated skits. The elevators were so antique looking with a large handle that they would move to get the elevator Going. And ya theyd call out the floor number and give you a description of what was on that floor. those were fast elevators, you could feel your stomach getting butterflies. Inside the building they would have one or two bag pipers wearing a kilt and playing bag pipes? They would walk around a certain area then disappear. And the window at Christmas time. Your so right about that wooden scene. It was mesmerizing to watch. I’ll be 63 in Jan. maybe we passed each other on the way. I remember the day JFK was assassinated, they let us outta school early that day. That was like 1963.

        Ya 76 changed a lotta people. I never learned the language. My mom was Irish second generation. Her parents took the long boat ride.
        My dad was French but always spoke English. I took off for California in 75.
        I was going to check it out and ended up staying. Got married and divorced twice. Started a business that was successful. Moved back to montreal about ten years ago. I have three grown daughters. Their all in university now soon to graduate.

        I still wears blue jeans and have four motorcycles. Just getting over a motorcycle accident which broke some bones. It’s not my first accident cause I’ve been riding since 67. But it sure hurts more than it Did when I was younger.
        I’ll be off the crutches in November. The bikes parked till next spring.
        Take care Val

      • Beat ya by one – M and D’d 3 times. Oh well. Whatever. No kids, just tons of animals – well 4 cats and 1 HUGE Newfoundland dog. Biking! Now there was a life, until my back got diagnosed such that the Kawasaki had to go. No matter. Did the Ride For Sight for Retinitis Pigmentosa for 10 years as the Ottawa Rep – dragging about 400 Ottawa and area bikers with me down to Fenelon Falls, and other spots where the Central Ontario RFS was held. That was fun! Great for the charity too. My 259HS Kawasaki was a sport/touring model and she could keep up with my H’s at the time 550GPZ. Never knew what the HS stood for up until I just opened her up one time and the first two words out of my mouth were “holy shit!”. Man she could keep up with the best of them! Deep Crimson red. Quite the “looker”. Biker name: “Ladyhawk”. Still use it to this very day. Have a trophy and a plaque for “Best Arm Female” – 2 years running at the RFS. It’s a portrait of a lady with long, long wavy hair, cascading shell earrings, and the back of her head suddenly moulds into the head of a “duck hawk” – the original name for the Peregrine Falcon. Hence the composition of Ladyhawk. It’s a fully black-line tattoo about 7 inches long on my right shoulder and that’s me. It’s a “character tat” – a “stand alone”. Something rare. Glad to hear that the business and all your daughters are doing well. I had 2 stepchildren, a boy and a girl, and I can check on them secretly through their FaceBook pages. Both are happily married. She has a girl and a boy and he has two sons. So the ten years I donated appear to have in some small way assisted in the formation to two responsible and very attractive people. Both are happy and doing quite well too, so that’s a bonus. Case in point my friend, that as we get “younger”, those bone injuries hurt more, and more frequently, especially in cold and damp weather. Trust me. My body knows the weather long before the guy with his computer comes on at the end of the national news. 67 was a great year for me – at Expo ’67 – and you’ve been riding. What makes are your bikes? The riding season commences at the first sign of dry pavement – and ends when the winter gusts of snow and ice hit us. That was a great time! If you lived in Montreal, what grade school and high school did you attend, if you don’t mind my asking. Just for the heck of it. Toodles Butch.

      • What years were you riding? Did you ride in Montreal? I have friends in Ottawa that ride. They come to Montreal in the summer and we all meet up and ride together like we did in the 60’s.
        Right now I have four bikes. A 98 road king…05 road king. 85 sportster and an
        09 night rod special. The night rod is the one I crashed on. I’ve since fixed it up. It’s a crazy fast bike and the only model Harley makes that’s water cooled.
        I have another bike that’s at a friends house in New York that I bought at auction. It came from a private collection where the owner passed away. It’s a 1970 Triumph Bonneville in original condition with really low miles. It’s the kind of bike I had in the 60’s and my interest in it is to take it apart like I did in the old days and go through it bolt by bolt. However my friend in New York is telling me not to cause its like new. We’ll see when it gets here.
        School. Lets see. Well I won’t to Daniel O’ Connel with the priest’s then
        Mary Mount H.S although I didn’t finish.. I was in a hurry to start working.
        I delivered beer for Cavendish Market on Marriet and Sherbrooke then for Mr. Harding on Sherbrooke and Belgrave in NDG. Tons of other no where jobs till I moved to California in he mid 70’s. That was life changing.
        How about you? What school? Do you live in Ottawa? Where did you hang out when you lived in Mtl. west. Maybe we know some of the same people. It would be funny if we crossed paths way back when.

      • Hi Butch, just got back with my LadyBear. We stopped for tea and muffins and the Crossword of the day and met lots of friends and made lots of new ones too.
        OMG – A relic!!!!!!!!! A Triumph Bonneville.
        Only started riding in 1990 in Ottawa, and when you life falls apart, things tend to go with it…………Amen.
        My fave was my Chevy 1/2-ton pickup with the camper box. Drove with mirrors, and cat’s eyes, and drove the Fraser Canyon, across Canada, had to change the timing in the Maritimes, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington. At one truck stop in Montana (it was massive – to service the rigs) I ended up having lunch at a huge and wonderful buffet (daily spread for tourists and workers alike) with about a 1/2-dozen “cowboys” whose horses were all tethered to a side rail on a flat-bed truck outside, and who immediately went in and “washed up” for dinner. They had been out on the trail doing “branding”, so they came in jingling, spurs and all, chaps included, but a bit dusty. Great guys – modern day John Waynes – it was such a dream come true. In 1978 – WOW!
        I had learned to drive on my father’s 1961 Dodge Pioneer – push button automatic console to the left of the steering wheel – ivory-colored buttons. Huge beast of a car. More of a yacht. No prob.
        My vision has negated renewing my licence, as CMD causes blackout of visual field. Not good normally, but least of all while at the wheel.
        Sooooooooooooo, still love vintage bikes and cars and trucks, and people who genuinely work to keep them in “mint” condition.
        I went to St. Ignatius of Loyola Elementary School from 1955 to 1962 and then to Marymount High School from 1962 to 1966. Then to John Abbott College to study Criminology I and II and then into the work force from 1966 to 2009 steady, through 3 marriages and millions of animals. I kept the animals.
        To identify any “common” acquaintances, you’d have to give me a list of names. I was Class president in HS each of the 4 years and Student Council rep also. I ran the Loyola Teen Club and was also the HS Hit Picker for CKGM Radio – Dean Hagopian – and pretty much hung out with the crowd around where I lived – Westhaven Village and NDG and Montreal West. I was good at planning ski trips and sleigh rides and dances, but pretty much was my own person – like not “glued” to any gang in particular. I was really far too busy with studies and organizing fun things for everyone. It was a long time ago, in a land far away, and if you really believe…………..there were Unicorns!
        Have to make some important calls right now, so talk later. Enjoy your day.

        Val and Bubby

  28. Your welcome Neath.
    I came across this story trying to find some old pictures of NDG. I was surprised actually to find so little on it. Couple of dozen pics maybe but there has to be more out there. I wish you could start a blog and get people to share. There must be some old NDG’ers out there who remember when Sherbrooke street was practically the only way to get downtown from NDG or the surrounding area’s. Or when Decarie Blvd. was one of the only ways to get to the Metropolitan.

    • Photos: A walk through Montreal history – Montreal Gazette…Montreal+history/…/story.html‎
      Nov 2, 2011 – View historical photographs of Montreal from the city archives, taken between 1920 and 1950. I have a bunch of old shots of Montreal, the Montreal West Train Station, and Morgans – and I found them simply by Googling “Old photos of Montreal” and “Photos of the Montreal West Train Station” – it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find these antique photos, you just have to only word your search as to specifically what you are looking for, and instead of clicking on the “search” icon – hit your “enter” key for a far more direct and specifically refined result, as opposed to travelling all over the internet. I don’t think I can paste photos on here or I would send them to you, but if you send me your gmail address, or your Facebook page, I can post them on there, and you can continue to find others that you may wish. Your call, guys. My middle name is “bloodhound” – just joking – but if it’s out there, I’ll surely find it one way or another. Proofreading and Research are my fortes, as is crocheting and animal care. I love variety. Val and Bubby

    • Neath and Val
      We have a facebook page called ndgmotorcyclekids. It’s pictures of us from mid to late 60’s riding our motorcycles around NDG. There’s about 20 pics so far. I’m slow on uploading them. There’s about another 30 pictures to put on there all from the 60’s. There’s also about 100 recent pictures we’ve taken of the same people in those old photos. Kinda of a before and after pic ya know. Only thing is the old pictures don’t focus on any thing in particular but us guys riding our bikes. Mostly around Benny park/Cavendish area. There is a picture of old Steinbergs on cavendish and one of the skyscrapers they were putting up on the corner of Sherbrooke/cavendish.
      What I was looking for was pictures of business’s or people around the neighbourhood of NDG. There used to be beer stores everywhere and those bicycles with the big basket in front delivering the beer. There were shoe stores every block and they all had the same looking old man with Gray hair wearing that same kinda apron. They’d always have a shoe or boot upside down on an anvil with a mouth full of small tack nails and holding that small hammer that only shoemakers and Santa Clause had. There were clocks on every building so you didnt needa watch. What happened to that A+W on the south side of Upper Lachine rd. just west of Cavendish where you’d drive into a parking spot, talk into a microphone to order your stuff and then some really cute chick would bring it out to you on a tray that clipped onto your driver window. Sometimes they’d be on roller skates. We’d usually always steal one of the mugs. Where did the people go who used to hang around NDG park in little groups on the grass all over the place. And the cops who used to parked their silver Harley Davidson motorcycles at the Empress Tea Room across from the park and take a coffee break. When its quite I can still hear the sounds of their bikes as they used to come speeding down Sherbrooke or up Girouard or taking the corner on Marcil ave so fast that their whole side care would lift two feet into the air. Does anyone remember that guy (we used to call he ally cause we’d see him all over) who always had that same coat on filled with dozens of WW11 medals. He had such a bounce to his walk you could see him coming two blocks away. And when you’d stop and talk to him he would put up his hands and start playing this imaginary trumpet making the sounds with his mouth,and he was good at it, then he’d bum a smoke and continue down Sherbrooke. OK he was a nut, but he was part of the neighbourhood and if you lived in NDG in the 60’s you saw him. There was the old guy everyone called the RagMan. He used to go up and down all the streets in town on a horse drawn buggy shouting out “rags for sale…rags for sale” he’d also pick up junk and sharpen knives and scissors on a hand operated grinding wheel on the rear of his buggy. Us kids used to sneak up from behind and sit on the lower bumper trying to get a free ride. If we weren’t quite enough he would lean back from his seat and crack this long whip he had in the air at us and say “get outta there”
      Do you remember those People who used to make all those custom candles or belts and wallets and sell them on the corners.
      Then when we went downtown that smoking billboard of the guy smoking a cigarette and then all the smoke would come pouring out of his mouth. I always wandered how they did that.
      The Go-Go dancers in the upstairs window on St Catherine st. … Crowds of people would stop and look up at them and I can remember the beat cops telling the crowd to move on.
      Someone out there has pictures of that and that’s what I’d like to find.

  29. Pingback: When I was young (Montreal West & Turcot Yards) | Salish Sea·

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