A thought on train tracks

I recently tweeted about train tracks and dividing lines while wondering to myself how many cities have been shaped, divided and changed by rail. When I lived in NDG, the Saint-Raymond neighbourhood south of the tracks was what locals called the “wrong side of the tracks” (technically speaking) but when I moved here in Sainte-Marie, I had no idea which one was the better side. I don’t think there was one in our case as its simply a divider but it still got me thinking…

Meanwhile my tweet got mentioned on Montreal City Weblog where a neat BBC radiocast was linked on how trains affected London and other England cities. All of this while I was listening to trains “choo-chooing” by during our stay at my in-laws in White Rock, British Columbia. Now there’s a city that has a great train-track design despite the fact that it could have been a disastrous barrier to the ocean. The line actually runs along the ocean but one can simply walk right across through multiple walk-throughs and the rest has simple blue bars with signs asking people not to cross. Any city the size of Montreal would probably fear repercussions for not having an ugly barrier-fence up but it made me wonder how much better designed the tracks going along the Saint-Lawrence river could be if we could still have access to the waters with a boardwalk near that one lonely park at the bottom of Iberville (there’s a second barrier, Notre-Dame St., but that’s another story). So I took this photo of White Rock to show everyone. Who knows maybe, it’ll inspire an urban planner in this city to think up a grand plan to bring river access to this neighbourhood.

White Rock train tracks

White Rock train tracks

Off topic (but similar): what a great job that was done in Hochelaga with the new Valois walkway where the old CN lines used to be. Definitely inspiring!

Also off-topic (but somewhat close to White Rock), check out this Vancouver history blog called Past Tense.


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