How soon country people forget. When they fall in love with a city it is forever, and it is like forever. As though there never was a time when they didn’t love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves.
TONI MORRISON, Jazz
Decided I would do this thing where I always start where I left off. So took a look at a map of Montreal and realized my northern trajectory put me close to the old Miron Quarry. It became a goal as I had started surreptitiously exploring the site in the late 80’s only to abandon the idea when I read a newspaper article about a worker who had died on the site in a manner that could easily have happened to moi. Still, Miron was important to me at the time and it is alluring to go back there now that the city is referring to it as some kind of environmental site – it was a garbage dump, incinerating tons and tons of stuff and emitting oodles of chemicals onto our island atmosphere, but the garbage has to go somewhere, right?
“Forget it, Neath, it’s Miron!”
Started at Laurier Metro.
Ok, so there is uncanny, and then there is unfuckingcanny. Jeff Wall could not have staged this picture any better. I must be like some kind of street photography genius, except I don’t like taking pictures of people, luck is all, folks, 30 plus years of doing this and all I can really tell you is that it is all basically luck.
Just so you get what I mean…
Paroisse Saint Denis across the street.
Headed north on Berri.
A view on Bibaud.
Traffic calming at Berri and Bibaud.
And we end up, well, paraphrasing James Joyce by suggesting that “through swerve of shore and bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Ecole Laurier and environs” (From the first paragraph of Finnegans Wake for those who keep score, and a reference to where Walk # 2 ended).
Headed north on Resther, which is really a lane rather than a street.
Old house on corner of Berri and de Lauzon. Not too many of this style left on the island of Montreal.
Items left on street on de Lauzon.
And one of the most unusual outside staircase arrangements I have ever seen.
And across the street …
A few old houses at Berri and Boucher.
East back in to Laurier Park. On these walks I am not making city parks a priority, many deserve their own post, and those can be done another time.
Out of the park and heading east along Saint Gregroire. Old des Carrieres street incinerator.
It’s been a lilac weekend. Saint Gregoire and Lanaudiere.
Mural on next block.
Turned north on Papineau not expecting this. Usually I would not choose this kind of a stretch but I do these walks with a kind of random commitment to whatever is front of me, decision made, plow forward, and with no phone, no physical maps either.
Incredibly conspicuous by its absence is graffiti. This is the only writing of any kind I saw.
I thought this was fantastic, stairwell with bus stop, completely unexpected.
Looking back. It was a surprisingly long uphill stretch.
Cafe at the corner of Papineau and de Fleurimont.
Headed west to Parc Pere Marquette where we see the old des Carrieres street incinerator from a different angle.
The park is spread out over three sections and has an indoor swimming pool, beach volleyball courts, baseball and soccer fields, picnic areas, and more! And then there is Ultimate!
In case you can’t read the sign.
You can’t really tell in this image but that is a huge church in the background.
Connected to the park is the Ecole des Metiers du Meuble de Montreal.
The building was once a high school called Ecole Secondaire Pere Marquette. Everything changes, eventually.
Continuing north from the park. I swear this house looks like it might have been a fire station ( a little one?) or some kind of business at one time.
The thing about this part of town I find interesting is these obviously “architectural” intrusions on otherwise very ordinary streets.
If there is one thing I have learned it is how simply painting something differently can restore a certain amount of dignity, even integrity, that neglect just cannot accomplish no matter how powerfully the decaying heritage building may be reaching out to us screaming “help me.” You can always scrape that paint off some other time.
Back on Papineau heading north.
I love irregularities in the city, things that throw the usual grid out of whack a bit, like this lane that meets Parc Montcalm.
Papineau and Belanger. I photographed this apartment building in the early 90’s and was always berating myself about not having written down the location. So here I am walking by roughly 25 years later…(and too lazy to search and scan the original pic)…
And this is an approximation of my original picture. To be honest, the building actually looks relatively good today because back then it was the slum/immigrant ghetto value that was a big part of the image.
Associations. A good friend of mine in Verdun is a stained glass artist and I took this picture thinking of that. Cartier and Belanger.
Going north on Cartier I find a small apartment building that has a bicycle parking lot in front. Very cool!
Hitting Jean Talon. Cafe Lima.
Overflow crowd enjoying the soccer game.
North on Chabot. Interesting little houses along here that remind me vaguely of similar houses in Cote Saint Paul off of Jolicoeur. It’s the front parking that is really different here. Lilacs.
And stumbled on to this – Theatre aux Ecuries.
Corner of de Lorimier and L.O.David. Classic depanneur building. Families would run the store and live in the back. Today they are mostly on corners like this but there was a time when it was common for a ground floor flat in the middle of a given street to be a little local confectionery type of store, before beer, and home delivery, started pushing them out of business.
Heading east on Tillemont.
Parc Nicolas Tillemont.
You don’t see bleachers so obviously outside of the park very often.
Heading north to the Metropolitan and it is beginning to look like suburbia along here – and I am sure the original owners were outraged when that barely elevated highway got built. Saw an old house in disrepair with tons of stuff on the sidewalk and became sad at the thought that someone had lived their whole life there and died and now their kids are just chucking most of it, weird, sad, human…and I did not take a picture because you just have to respect some things…
Finally at the Metropolitan.
The circus influence.
Familiar looking tent on the other side.
And crossing over have a view of TOHU, circus training school.
And this is the former Miron Quarry, now classified as an environmental kind of place which leaves me with extraordinary levels of skepticism that I may leave for another time, another rant…
It’s a massive space and looks quite green from here and in front of me is a dirt road used by cyclists. But this place was a toxic nightmare with massive swarms of seagulls following the fresh trash. It was a methane spewing climate change son of a gun.
Here is a mural I liked while waiting for a bus back to the Metro.
And a final shot that will go into the Bus Stop series, if not somewhere else (wink).
And that was that. Next time I will walk up the east side of Miron, see what is going on, and head north to the river if I have time. Take care, always do the right thing, and catch you next time, says the photoflanneur!