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Found 8 results

  1. Via The Boston Globe : Montreal’s Little Burgundy, Mile Ex are getting hip artfully By Christopher Muther | GLOBE STAFF OCTOBER 18, 2014 CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF Canned vegetables were seen at Dinnette Triple Crown. Life was taking place behind glowing windows on this preternaturally balmy October night. On a walk in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighborhood, the streets were quiet but inside restaurants were buzzing and the city’s jeunesse dorée were shoulder-to-stylish-shoulder at gallery openings. If it sounds like I’m romanticizing the scene, I am. I had struck travel pay dirt: a hot new neighborhood laid at my feet, and I had a night to aimlessly explore this turf called Little Burgundy. In my usual know-it-all fashion, I thought I had thoroughly chewed and digested the hot neighborhoods of Montreal years ago. As usual, I was wrong. I knew that the Mile End neighborhood was chockablock with the cool kids (genus Hipster). I was also aware that Old Montreal, the part of the city that was once jammed with tatty gift shops, is now very chic and grown-up. Not so long ago I came to Old Montreal with the intention of writing a story about how Old Montreal is the new Montreal. I was too lazy to write the story — please don’t tell my editor — but my theory was correct. The area is now known for its celebrity chef restaurants and art galleries. Which brings us back to this balmy October night in Little Burgundy. Until a few weeks ago, I thought Little Burgundy was an inexpensive red wine. Nope. It was once a working class neighborhood that has blossomed into a hamlet dotted with incredible restaurants and boutiques. For the sake of ease, I’m going to group Little Burgundy with the Saint-Henri and Griffintown neighborhoods. All are in the southwest part of the city and have a rough-around-the-edges, blue-collar history. The neighborhood volte-face began with the cleanup of the Lachine Canal. Artists scrambled for inexpensive studio space. This inevitably brought in the beginnings of gentrification and a rush of 20- and 30-somethings on the hunt for affordable housing. The scene is anchored by Atwater Market in Saint-Henri. Atwater, a mega farmer's market, is housed in a beautiful Art Deco tower. Set aside an hour or two to wander the aisles and check out the produce, much of it from farms around Quebec. I passed rows of passionate red raspberries and strawberries, but opted for locally made chocolates. We all know a man needs a little sugar to keep up his strength. When I began my Little Burgundy evening excursion, I started with restaurants from the pioneering chefs who rode covered wagons into this new frontier and set up shop. Joe Beef opened in 2005 and received a considerable boost when celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain dropped in. The English pub Burgundy Lion sits across the street. It’s part sports bar and part restaurant. I stayed long enough for a drink, but failed miserably when it came to discussing sports. I wanted to chat about the prosecco-scented soap I purchased earlier in the day at a boutique called Beige. The gent on the bar stool next to me wanted to talk about Canadian football. “Who do you think is going to take it?” he asked. “The Alouettes or the Redblacks?” The Alouettes sounded like an effete, all-male a cappella act, so I said the Redblacks. Naturally the Alouettes won. I needed a place where I felt slightly more comfortable discussing my prosecco-scented soap. The trouble was choosing. I passed Tuck Shop, Bitoque, Evvo, and the Drinkerie. All looked pretty wonderful. I stopped in at Code Ambiance, but felt woefully underdressed — and blasted my slovenly American ways! I walked a few doors down to a steak house called Grinder. Like a latter-day Goldilocks, I declared, “This one is just right!” I settled at the bar to start on an amazing meal. Not long after, an animated couple appeared at my side, eager to talk. I love talking to new people, particularly locals, when I’m on the road. But this conversation was making me nervous. It starting getting a bit salty for my liking (I’m not talking about the food), peppered with questions that left me blushing. One of the few French phrases I know, ménage à trois, felt like it was about to be introduced into the conversation. I came up with a hasty excuse to leave, paid the check, and rushed back to my hotel. I guess prosecco-scented soap is a bit of an aphrodisiac. You’ve been warned, people. Sufficiently frightened to go back to Little Burgundy, I met up with my friends Alexis and Julien at a Russian-themed cocktail bar called Kabinet (it’s connected to another Russian-themed bar called Datcha) the next night in Mile End. The conversation focused on Mile Ex, another of Montreal’s hottest new neighborhoods. Like Little Burgundy, I had never heard of Mile Ex. But Julien and Alexis said this once rough-hewn ’hood, which is less than a square mile squeezed between Little Italy and a highway, is also going through a resurgence. More condominiums are going in, and more restaurants are following suit. After cocktails and bowling at the charmingly divey Notre-Dame-des-Quilles (known as NDQ by locals), I drafted a Mile Ex plan for the next day. Mile Ex is very easy to walk (or bike), so I started exploring by going to Marché Jean-Talon on the edge of Little Italy and Mile Ex. Like Atwater Market, the place is mammoth and filled with incredible produce. Again, I skipped anything remotely healthy and jumped to the poutine booth. Bubu Restaurant Gringer One of the first restaurants to open in Mile Ex was Dinette Triple Crown, which didn’t arrive intending to be a forebear of great things to come; the owners say it was pure coincidence and good timing. It’s an unpretentious place where you can order Southern comfort food. Contrast that with Mile Ex’s latest eatery, le Ballpark, which specializes in meatballs. Yes, meatballs. For such a tiny area, there are some fantastic places here. My favorite (not that you asked) was Manitoba, which also opened this summer. “We wanted a taste of the forest in our plates, a taste of nature in our glasses,” reads the restaurant’s website. Much of the food was local and the look of the space was chic and rustic. Braver souls can sample deer heart and veal tongue. I played it safe with duck. I encountered more friendly Montrealers at Manitoba — thank you again prosecco-scented soap — who invited me to a very illegal party at an abandoned warehouse. Generally when I hear the words “illegal” and “party,” I don’t hesitate. It was one of those glorious nights where DJs ironically played music from 1990 to 2000 while revelers danced in a crumbling space that looked like a set from “The Walking Dead.” If you’ve never experienced Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” in an abandoned Canadian warehouse, you don’t know what you’re missing. Even as I write these words I’m feeling guilty. I want to tell people about Little Burgundy and Mile Ex, but I don’t want to ruin these places by turning them into tourist destinations. I want to greedily keep them to myself. If the masses begin descending, will there be enough meatballs left for me at le Ballpark, poutine at Marche Jean Talon, warehouse dance parties, and swingers on the prowl at Grinder? OK, I’ll make a deal: You take the swingers, I’ll keep the poutine. PATRICK GARVIN/ GLOBE STAFF Christopher Muther can be reached at [email protected]
  2. Montreal Archipelago This map shows 40 meters of sea level rise. Only half of the world’s ice sheets melted to produce this archipelago. I spent a week in Montreal once–and I’ve been in love with it ever since. I don’t really speak French. I gave names to some of the larger islands, but I don’t know it well enough to do it justice. If you have suggestions, let me know! Buy the map! This will happen someday, but not in our lifetimes. Some who have dared to speculate on a timeline have given themselves plenty of space for error in their predictions–one estimate says anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 years. Whatever the time frame, anthropogenic climate change is a fact–humans are speeding up this process. For all of these maps, I am not portraying any sea level higher than what is possible. The USGS has estimated that the total rise would be about 80 meters.
  3. https://medium.com/@transitapp/the-mini-villages-of-montreal-s-metro-6900e158b2a The metro is the backbone of Montreal. Besides New York City and Mexico City, Montreal’s annual ridership is higher than every other subway system in North America. It’s a feel-good story if you’re from Montreal. But there are lots of big cities in North America. Why has the STM — Montreal’s transit authority — been so successful in getting us to ride the metro? One big reason: Montreal’s metro stations are incredibly well-integrated within the city’s densest neighbourhoods. Would you take the metro if it took you an hour to get there? Probably not. That’s why when urban planners design transit systems, they try to optimize transit station walksheds: the area around a transit station accessible by foot. Just because your grandpa walked seven miles to school (uphill both ways) doesn’t mean you should. Having a metro station within walking distance makes it more likely that you’ll actually use public transit, and not have to rely on a car. This visualization shows the population that lives within walking distance of each Montreal rail station: Montreal rail station walksheds’ population within 800m of stations. The sizes of the circles and the numbers inside them correspond to the population in 1,000 people (24 = 24,000). How does your station compare? In other words, if you were to shout really loudly outside most metro stations, there are lots of people who will hear you. There are thousands — and often tens of thousands — of people living within 800 metres of Montreal’s rail stations. And this is in a city with almost no skyscrapers! To create this graphic, we found the number of people in Montreal who live within 800 metres of the nearest rail station, which represents a 10 minute walk for a fully-grown human with average-sized legs. The Côte-Sainte-Catherine station has the most people living in its walkshed (about 28,000 people), followed by the Mont-Royal and Guy-Concordia stations (about 26,000 each). Mont Royal metro on the left (26,000 people), Montmorency on the right (6,000 people). Where would you rather live? Funnily enough, the metro station with the most foot traffic (Berri-UQAM) actually has less people living around it than the areas around the adjacent Beaudry, St. Laurent, and Sherbrooke stations. This is because many people going through Berri-UQAM don’t actually live there — they’re just stopping to transfer between the Orange, Green, and Yellow lines. Tweet at us!On the whole though, areas around metro stations are much more densethan the rest of Montreal: the population density within metro walksheds is more than 10,000 people/km², while population density outside of them is a mere 3,700 people/km². By giving Montrealers cheap, rapid, and reliable access to the rest of the city, metro stations encourage people to live nearby. But when people can’t live near stations (due to zoning or other reasons) you don’t see as much development, and neighbourhoods become much more car-reliant and “suburbified”. Consider Montreal’s AMT stations, which generally don’t have as many people living nearby as metro stations. AMT stations are often next to highways and surrounded by a sea of parking, while others are smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. The lack of dense housing nearby is one reason that the ridership numbers for the AMT (80,000 daily trips) pale in comparison to the mammoth numbers of the STM Metro (1,250,000 daily trips). When people live further away from stations, they have to rely on feeder buses or park-and-ride’s. To avoid that inconvenience, many people simply choose to use cars instead of taking public transit. Altogether, we’re proud that Montreal’s car cravings are comparatively light. When stacked up against similarly-sized North American cities, our public transit mode share is very high. Take a look: Originally posted by transit planner extraordinaire Jarret Walker on humantransit.orgLargely because of our city’s metro, over 20% of Montrealers take public transit to work, which is more than double the share in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Washington DC, and Seattle. Still, we can do better. In the STM’s Strategic Plan for 2020, one of the primary goals is to reduce the share of car trips from 48% of total trips down to 41%. To make up the difference, they hope to encourage more Montrealers to take public transit. There are many ways to acccomplish this goal: congestion pricing or better parking policies to discourage driving, increased service to boost transit’s convenience, and real-time customer information (iBUS anyone?). In particular, our walkshed graph shows that denser development should be an important part of the STM’s toolkit — notwithstanding the usual political hurdles. Our team at Transit App is also doing its part to make public transit more convenient in Montreal, and in many other cities around the world. From our Mile End office, our team is giving millions of people the flexibility and reliability of a car — without the burdens of actually owning one. Find out how we can help make your transit experience better: You can download Transit App for free on iPhoneand Android
  4. http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/ To live in Quebec is to become accustomed to daily reminders that French in the Canadian province is the most regulated language in the world. Try, as I did recently, to shop at Anthropologie online and you’ll come up empty-handed. The retail chain (which bears a French name) opened its first Montreal boutique in October, but “due to the Charter of the French Language” has had its site shut down: “We hope you’ll visit us in store!” Montreal’s transit authority maintains that under the present language law, its ticket takers must operate in French, which lately has spurred complaints from passengers. Last year, the city of Montreal erected 60 English safety signs nearby Anglophone schools in an effort to slow passing vehicles. The Quebec Board of the French Language and its squad of inspectors ordered that they be taken down; a snowy drive through town revealed that all had been replaced by French notices. Since the Parti Québécois (PQ), which calls for national sovereignty for Quebec, won a minority government in September, the reminders have become increasingly less subtle. In February, a language inspector cited the swank supper club Buonanotte, which occupies a stretch of St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal’s cultural and commercial artery, for using Italian words like pasta on its otherwise French menu. The ensuing scandal, which has come to be known as “pastagate,” took social media by storm. “These are problems we had in the 1980s,” says restaurant owner Massimo Lecas. “They were over and done with; we could finally concentrate on the economy and fixing potholes. And then this new government brought them all back. These issues might never go away now, and that is a scary sort of future.” It’s true: despite the nuisances and controversies generated by Bill 101, Quebec’s 1977 Charter of the French Language, the province had settled in the past years into a kind of linguistic peace. But tensions have mounted considerably since the separatist PQ returned to the fore. In the wake of pastagate, the language board allowed that its requests were maybe overzealous; the head of the organization resigned. And yet the PQ has prepared for the passage of Bill 14, a massive and massively controversial revision to Bill 101. The bill’s 155 proposed amendments go further than any previous measures have to legislate the use of French in Quebec. Most English speakers see the changes as having been designed to run them right out of the province. “Definitely non-Francophone kids who are graduating are leaving,” says restaurateur Lecas. “If you don’t have a mortgage yet, if you’re not married yet, if you don’t own a business yet, it’s like, ‘I’m so outta here.’ But leaving is not the solution because when you leave, they win.” In a poll conducted by the research company EKOS in January, 42% of the Anglophones surveyed said they’ve considered quitting Quebec since the PQ was elected. If Bill 14 passes, military families living in Quebec but liable to be relocated at any time will no longer be permitted to send their children to English-language schools. Municipalities whose Anglophone inhabitants make up less than 50% of their populations will lose their bilingual status, meaning, among other things, that residents won’t be able to access government documents in English. For the first time, companies with 25 to 49 workers will be required to conduct all business in French, a process set to cost medium-size businesses $23 million. French speakers interested in attending English-language colleges will take a backseat to Anglophone applicants. The language inspectors will be able to instantly search and seize potentially transgressive records, files, books and accounts, where currently they can only “request” documents that they believe aren’t in accordance with the law. And no longer will they grant a compliance period. As soon as a person or business is suspected of an offense, “appropriate penal proceedings may be instituted.” Jamie Rosenbluth of JR Bike Rental is among the business owners who’ve had run-ins with the ever more bold language board, which already has the authority to impose fines and, in extreme cases, shut enterprises down. A month ago, an inspector asked him to translate the Spanish novelty posters that paper his shop and increase the size of the French writing on his bilingual pricing list by 30%. Says Rosenbluth: “I told her, ‘You want me to make the French words 30% bigger? O.K., how about I charge French-speaking people 30% more?’ It is so silly. Are they 30% better than me? Are they 30% smarter than me?” Since the encounter, he has covered the offending posters with placards of his own that say, in French, “Warning: Non-French sign below. Read at your own discretion.” The PQ is trying to reassure its separatist base of its seriousness as a defender of Quebecois identity. To pass Bill 14, it will need the support of at least one of the province’s two primary opposition parties. In other words, if the bill doesn’t succeed, Premier Pauline Marois of the PQ will be able to hold the opposition accountable and remain a hero to the hard-liners. The PQ knows that, in its present incarnation, it will never drastically expand its core of support, but it can galvanize its troops. Some of those supporters rallied together in Montreal last month to protest “institutional bilingualism” and champion the bill. Cheers and applause resounded when journalist Pierre Dubuc called out: “If someone can’t ask for a metro ticket in French, let them walk.” Public hearings on Bill 14 began in early March at the National Assembly in Quebec City and are ongoing. “I can tell you that if someone came to Côte-St.-Luc to tell us we would lose our bilingual status, you will have chaos, you will have opposition of people you wouldn’t think of who will take to the streets,” testified Anthony Housefather, mayor of the municipality of Côte-St.-Luc, on the first day. “People are scared, people are very scared.” By the time Quebec’s largest Anglophone school board, Lester B. Pearson, came forward on March 19, it had already collected 32,000 signatures on a petition against the bill. “There are many ways of protecting French, and coercion isn’t one of them,” says Simo Kruyt, a member of the board’s central parent committee. “Fourteen of our schools have closed over the past seven years. We are getting fed up. We are getting tired of having to fight to be who we are. English is the language of commerce and we parents believe we are part of a world that’s larger than Quebec.” It’s hard yet to say if the bill will make it through. The opposition Liberals have flat-out refused to support the legislation. The Coalition Avenir Québec, which holds the balance, has said that it might — if certain of the more controversial measures are “improved.” In fact, the Coalition has only come out against four sections of Bill 14, and these don’t include the provisions that would give the dreaded language inspectors new and extraordinary powers. In the face of such antagonism, it’s no wonder some are leaving. Kruyt’s eldest son, a bilingual 27-year-old engineer, is preparing to relocate to Ottawa, the Canadian capital that sits near Quebec’s western border. Says Kruyt: “There, they’ll appreciate his French and won’t hammer him because of his English.” Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/#ixzz2PxmWuSHp
  5. Toronto Star, May 19, 2010. By Carol Perehudoff I don’t dare sit down in this glass-encrusted dress. If I break one of the attached silvery rectangles, not only will I damage a piece of art, the splinters would be a serious pain in the you-know-what. “You’re the first person to try it on,” says designer Jessica MacDonald as I twirl around Espace Verre, a glass arts school, studio and exhibition centre housed in a former firehouse in southwest Montreal. I’m not sure how I convinced Jessica to let me try on the dress or how it fit over my hips after the almond croissants this morning at Patisserie Kouign Amann, but it’s a great introduction to “Montreal, City of Glass,” a year-long celebration of the city’s most translucent art form with more than 100 glass-themed events. That’s reason enough to visit, but I’m also on the trail of a mystery: “The Mystery of the Disappearing Windows.” This intriguing headline on the website of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel appealed to my inner Nancy Drew. It’s hard to sleuth in a glass couture outfit, however, so reluctantly — and carefully — I shed the dress and accompany my guide, Marie José, to Old Montreal, where the chapel was founded in 1655 by Canada’s first female saint, Marguerite Bourgeoys. Unfortunately the church doors are locked. “How am I going to solve the Mystery of the Disappearing Windows now?” I ask. “Do you mean the disappearing glass at Notre-Dame Basilica?” Marie José asks. “There’s a mystery there.” Either there’s an awful lot of vanishing glass in Montreal or I’m mixing up the two Notre Dames. To find out, we head down to Notre-Dame Basilica at Place d’Armes Square. Completed in 1829, this towering neo-Gothic basilica is a stained-glass showcase containing windows from three different historical eras. Like celestial skylights, three rose windows are set in the ceiling; in an unusual touch, the side windows depict historical rather than biblical themes. “But what about the mystery?” I ask, gazing up at a scene of Jacques Cartier coming upon the Iroquois village of Hochelaga (today’s Montreal). “It started with arson.” Marie José leads me to the back of the church. “In 1978 someone set fire in a confessional, causing millions in damages. During renovations, five stained glass windows were found behind a brick wall. They’d been walled up and forgotten for more than 80 years.” Two of the windows, St. Peter and St. Louis, now hang in the Basilica’s Sacred Heart Chapel. Masculine and medieval-looking, they glimmer with deep tones of blue, burgundy and gold. “Why would anyone cover them up?” I ask. Marie José offers a solution. “The windows were right behind the altar, so parishioners couldn’t see the priest during services because of the sun shining through.” Well, that’s one mystery solved. It’s not my original mystery, however, so the next morning I return to Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. The current domed church dates to 1771, the foundations of the original chapel now mere stone traces deep in the church cellar. I hunt up Karine St-Louis, head of educational programming, who gives me a rare peek into the cellar’s depths. An eerie-looking room with ancient timber supports, it lay abandoned for decades, filled with dirt and debris. Then, during an archaeological dig here in 1996, two stained-glass angel fragments were found. “They were part of a much-larger window made around 1855,” Karine says. “It was either the Assumption of Mary or the Immaculate Conception.” “Who made them?” “We don’t know.” We visit one of the angels — now on permanent display in the chapel museum. Backlit, the angel glows with a luminous calm, his green wings and golden hair framing an unreadable expression. It’s hard to imagine that before Canada was even officially a country he stood watch in the chapel, then waited more than a century to re-emerge. “Who saved it, I wonder? And what happened to the rest of the window?” Karine smiles. “That’s the mystery.” “Why would anyone remove it?” This is something she can solve. “Like anything, glass goes in and out of fashion.” From stained glass angels to couture cocktail dresses, it certainly does. Evidently it can disappear and reappear, too, carrying with it fragments of history. Montreal may be the City of Glass, but it’s a city of secrets, too, making me wonder what other mysteries lie hidden behind its historical walls. http://www.thestar.com/travel/northamerica/article/811043--montreal-a-city-of-glass-and-secrets Here is a video by Ms. Carol... a little bit funny! http://www.thestar.com/videozone/811042 "In the end, I've come to the conclusion that Montreal is alot like glass. It shimmers its tiny shiny pieces that make up an incredible whole. And if you catch it in the right light, it's iluminating! "
  6. Took the 55 bus north on St-Laurent yesterday. I was shocked to see dozens of boarded up store fronts on the east side of the street between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal. This is so much worse that I have ever seen in over 20 years! So sad and depressing. How could we let this happen? Go see for yourself. Take a walk on the Main. If anyone wants to record and share the images here, I'm sure you will be shocked too. Here's something I just saw in CULT-MTL on same subject, although IMO the situation is much more serious than the tone in the piece. http://cultmontreal.com/2013/04/st-laurent-montreal-main/ St-Laurent has seen better days There are few greater, simpler pleasures in this town than walking along the Main on a crisp spring afternoon. But given how dire things are looking for Montreal’s multicultural microcosm, I’m not looking forward to doing it this year with my usual enthusiasm. For years, pedestrians had to deal with all the interminable construction, and while many of us courageously traversed those rickety planks masquerading as sidewalks, the street never really recovered from those trying times. Businesses have been shuttering left and right (I weep for BBQ Rocky’s — where I’ll get smokes and watch soaps now I don’t know), so in an effort to make the abyss more enticing to prospective entrepreneurs, the St-Laurent Merchants’ Association is spending $30,000 to dress up the growing number of empty storefronts. Of course, it’s akin to trying to stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound with a few dabs of a wet nap, or more specifically it’s a modern take on Potemkin Village. The obvious, sad truth is that, given how gradual the Main’s depreciation has been, it’s going to take more than a few fancy snapshots to revitalize the area. It’s not a bad idea, per se, because mushy newspapers certainly don’t make for good window shopping, but saving the Main will require progressive thinking. There are plenty of cooler streets around town these days, and history isn’t much of a selling point, even when it’s engraved on ergonomically unfavourable benches. Some streets just never get their groove back: St-Laurent merchants need only look to their cross-street brother Prince Arthur if they want a harrowing look into their future. There’s a municipal election coming up later this year, so perhaps it’s high time that the supposedly “clean” party — the one that rules over the Plateau with a sanctimonious wag and aspires to expand their empire — prove they’re good at something besides pointing out how bloated and corrupt their political rivals are. And if they don’t have any solutions, either, maybe they can just hike parking rates by another buck or two. That’ll help. ■
  7. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette) This is the first part of three. Plus you get more visuals in the paper today.