Skip to main content

where all the people go?

the prettified lachine canal, rising from its ruins
this past weekend, i got to spend a few days doing something that i'd forgotten i enjoy: playing tour guide.

of course, it helps when you're doing this during the summer, since showing people around montreal in january can be deeply unpleasant, but it was a good opportunity for me to ponder how much the urban core of the city has flourished since i first moved her fifteen years ago. although it's far from perfect, i'm quite proud of the work done to keep montreal's centre strong. yes, there are increasing numbers of people fleeing for the suburbs and there are social issues that accompanying gentrification of any neighbourhood, but downtown montreal [and the plateau and mile end and the old city] have blossomed from some roots that looked pretty dubious when i first laid eyes on them.

reinvented offices in old montreal
one of the reasons that i appreciate this is because i've lived in two other cities that seem strangely indifferent, if not outright hostile to their downtown hubs. although there will always be things going on in the centre of toronto, the city seems determined to do what it can to make it as difficult as possible to get in and around, while i'm consistently deflated when i visit halifax to see the stretches along main thoroughfares dwindle while businesses decamp for suburban industrial parks.

there are reasons for these urban declines: toronto's suburban population massively outnumbers those in the city and, in every electoral issue, their voices will dominate; halifax's awkward geography makes it difficult to get traffic into the city centre and years of socially suspect urban planning have created barriers to better city living.

i'm a fan of cities and of the diversity that urban culture tends to bring. nothing against the country, but for someone who's imaginative, liberal and easily bored, i've found the urban environment to be a healthy match. and i'm glad to know that montreal, despite its considerable shortcomings in other areas [*cough*] has done things like make the lachine canal into a walkable/ bike-able urban oasis. i'm always curious to hear what other cities are doing and what they're doing better. in canada, approximately 80% of the population lives in urban areas, which means that we'd all better start learning from the success stories as quickly as we can.

Comments

Jen said…
I have always wanted to visit Montreal. Several of my friends used to go up to parktake in activities that an 18 year old could do there but not here in Boston. I never went though.

PS - They are all down in Massachusetts. I see so many Quebec license plates!
flora_mundi said…
Montreal has a lot going for it (at any age). I wouldn't dream to say that we've solved our urban problems, but I do appreciate living somewhere that isn't ashamed to admit it's a big, diverse city.

Personally, I've always wanted to see Boston, but I've never managed to take the trek down.

Popular posts from this blog

so hip it hurts

there aren't too many artists who stand out as being iconically canadian. it's too easy to mistake us for some other people, mostly americans, who are, let's be honest, pretty similar in a lot of ways. [this is the bit where i apologise for avril lavigne, justin bieber and drake.] the guess who/ bachman turner overdrive held sway over an earlier generation, and musicians and those who appreciate technical proficiency will speak of rush like they are gods, but last night the country said goodbye to perhaps the most canadian of canadian bands, the tragically hip.

for those of you not familiar with that name, the hip emerged in the mid-to-late eighties, among a slew of canadian bands [54-40, the northern pikes, the pursuit of happiness, the grapes of wrath] that balanced on the line between mainstream and alternative rock. all of them played accessible guitar-based music with none of the bombast of seventies dinosaurs, but equally with no hint of the drug-fueled anger that w…

shut up

general reaction seems to be that last night's vice presidential debate was close to a draw, with a slight edge going to mike pence [other than among cnn's panel of independent voters, who overwhelmingly chose tim kaine as the winner]. i feel that's an accurate assessment, although it's largely a question of personal preference. pence absolutely projected the stoic, unflappable, unwavering image that many americans [not just republicans, either] seem to like and equate with strength. for my part, i prefer someone who's a little more mercurial, someone who's able to gets excited about ideas and who's able to expand on them, not just repeat talking points.

so, from my point of view, both vice presidential candidates were pretty disappointing. i found that kaine had a fantastic command of facts and history- he knew pence's voting record better than pence knew his and possibly better than pence knew his own. his opening answers were so smoothly delivered i…

mental health mondays :: parabnormal?

for north america and parts of europe, halloween marked the apex of spooky events, where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its most diaphanous. but if you're a very traditional roman catholic, you'll know that the 31 of october is merely the beginning, and that the entire month that follows is dedicated to remembering and praying for the dead, specifically for those whose souls are trapped in purgatory. if you listen to dante, purgatory isn't especially pleasant. sure, there's the possibility that you'll end up working off your debt to celestial society, but until then, you get to endure things like having your goddamned eyes sewn shut with iron wire. [much like condo developments, it gets better the higher the floor you live on.]

however, the more common view of purgatory among catholics is that the souls relegated there can't do anything to help themselves, and are reliant on the prayers of their living relatives and loved ones to …