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The Silent Ghosts of Hochelaga Yards

Hochelaga Yards circa 1907, Atlas Pinsonneault

Hochelaga Yards circa 1907, Atlas Pinsonneault

With a crescent moon at my back, I decided that tonight’s dog walk would lead me to nowhere in the very south-east portion of Hochelaga.  The map above and a book I just took out of the library was the motivation for tonight’s dogwalk.  The book is titled “Du chemin du Roy à la rue Notre-Dame” which at first & second glance potentially appears to have some answers for me as to how Sainte-Marie grew eastwards into once-Hochelaga territory (i.e. the land between the Canadian Pacific Railway and Iberville).  The book takes a look at the growth along Notre-Dame St. over the years so it starts with early “Quebec Suburbs” (Faubourg Québec) history and moves out towards Maisonneuve and Mercier.

 I destined my walk towards what the book mentions as the Anglophone portion of Hochelaga (likely prior to the creation of the CPR lines in the 1870s) on a once-named “Marlborough St. » (today Alphonse D. Roy) and walked all the way around “Hochelaga Yards”. I started by heading down to De Rouen passed through the viaduct, down Moreau St. and turned right on Adam St. and found my way to old Marlborough St.  I found nothing but 60 or 70s built industrial company boxes, parked cars and fences but not one piece of history.  It was actually sad.  I continued south to St.Catherine to find myself in the middle of nowhere. Nothing spookey, no dark alleys.  Just well lit industrial nothingness and the crescent moon up high. I headed over the bridge that takes us over the most southern part of the CPR yards, and there I could see pretty much everything… the industrial part of Hochelaga, Longueil condo high-rises, La Ronde, les Tours Frontenac, downtown Montreal, Olympic Stadium and of course Hochelaga Yards itself (there’s a forest now where the Car Shop is placed in the 1907 map).  I headed back home up Bercy St. and just thought about how much has been lost to expropriation.  This is a large part of Montreal that has simply vanished and although I would consider it a wasteland, I was surprised to see how busy it was with night shift trucks and workers going in and out of the lots. I have never walked here at night so I had really no idea.

Time to start reading and touch base soon enough with my findings. Although I’m now wondering why they never named this area Hochelaga Yards as its kind of catchy and less confusing (i.e. is it Centre-Sud, Sainte-Marie or part of Hochelaga?)

Google Map of Hochelaga Yards/walk path

Google Map of Hochelaga Yards/walk path


New Blogs Coming on

Recently I announced on Twitter that I would be transferring my neighbourhood blogs onto which is a new community portal currently run by 4 residents.  It will be a challenge for me to write in French but I am welcoming this change.  Two blogs are in the works for this week – one to talk about a recent closing ceremony to thank all the park-committee volunteers from this past summer and the other will be of interest to those following my historical research.  I was lucky enough recently to meet more people from the Polish community in Sainte-Marie and was invited to their Harvest dinner, this opened up great conversations that I will have delve into deeper in the future but for now I’ll give you a bit of introduction (en français) to this community and their history in Sainte-Marie.  Stay tuned on this week.  p.s. I am keeping this blog and with the separate website now in the works, I’ll let this blog evolve organically (probably my English writing mixed in with more personal blogs – basically talking about my family activies + my research when the work itself is not ready to be published).

St-Eusèbe ward research (first hint?)

Just spent an hour going through Google archives to see if I could get back into one of my next historical goals which was to track the history of how early Montreal 19th century neighbourhood history (parishes & « côtes » – see my pre-1840 early Montreal history series for more details) transformed into a more formal municipal ward system.  Additionally, I want to see when the Hochelega ward that started at Iberville officially changed lines to the CP rail tracks which ultimatley made way to the St-Eusèbe ward.  Never really found any books or maps to showcase Montreal wards to see at what period this happened so more research will be necessary.  Google searches provide election details of the St-Eusèbe ward starting in the 30s but I found this link to a 1903 story that is actually about  a St-Jean-Baptiste celebration which talks about how the festival procession leads to Cathedrals in different « divisions » (neighbourhoods?) made up of different « societies » (wards in the making?).  St-Eusèbe and other societies like Hochelaga, Notre-Dame-de-Grace and Villeray are mentioned here.  What I find interesting (and maybe I’m reading way too much between the lines) is that there seems to be a transition hint here from Parish-neighbourhoods to Ward-neighbourhoods.  On one hand, the French-Canadian catholic festival leads to cathedrals but involves more modern 20th century municipal divisions.  Anyhow, maybe this is a hint of the parish-to-ward change or maybe not.  Click here for the link to see for yourself.

Anyhow, definitely would like to pursue this research further when time will allow.  How did we go from parishes to wards?  What books are out there that could help find this information?  I fear this is not a simpler library textbook research.

Souper Solidarité pour Styl’Afrique Coop

Bonjour tout le monde, voici un message de l’équipe Styl’Afrique Coop. J’encourage les résidents à participer et de se rejoindre ensemble demain pour une bonne cause locale. n.b. ce souper aura une option végé/ Hello everyone, here’s a message from the Styl’Afrique Coop. I encourage all residents to participate and to get together for a good local cause. p.s. this dinner will have a vegetarian option.


Invitation à notre souper solidarité!
Pour faire suite à notre article sur l’acte de vandalisme commis chez Styl’Afrique coop, nous souhaitons vous inviter à prendre part à notre souper solidarité qui vise à réunir les fonds pour réparer notre vitrine détruite.

Venez vous régaler avec nous et contribuer ainsi à la cause de Styl’Afrique Coop! Aussi, prenons le temps de prendre des nouvelles de tout le monde…

Quand? vendredi le 1er octobre 2010 , 18h00

Où? Centre Jean-Claude Malépart, 2633, rue Ontario Est (Métro Frontenac)

Coût: 10$ souper spaghetti, 15$ souper africain.

Il y aura aussi vente d’objets d’arts et de vêtements africains sur place.
Pour plus d’informations, communiquez avec nous au: (514) 509-7528

Amenez vos amis et connaissances, une belle façon de terminer la semaine
en bonne compagnie…

Au plaisir de vous y voir nombreux!

L’équipe de Styl’Afrique Coop

Archived Parks Video + Random Childhood Memories

Quite a few weeks back, a fellow neighbour from the Mederic-Martin park committee sent me this interesting video about our city parks (from 1949!).   This made me think a great deal about my parents as they were at the same age during this era (my Dad was 13 that summer and my Mom 11) – so on Father’s Day I showed this to them when they were down for a visit. I can’t really tell where most of this is happening and if there are any Centre-Sud parks in there but it’s a nice going-back-in-time video and you see how the kids of all the different parks used to unite for the opening of summer with a festive parade. There is however some footage of the Delorimier Downs and the Royals.

While my parents were visiting, he joined me on one of my dog walks, his memory was jogged of the time he saw Jackie Robinson play in 1946 and it turned out that it was through a school trip where all the kids were brought down to see this now legendary player. He also started talking about his childhood and how his Dad made a decision to send him to English school (we’re French Canadian) and this basically meant getting beaten up by his French neighbourhood friends for being a traitor… and meanwhile he would get beaten up once he got to school for being the only French kid.  Sometimes you just can’t win.  But he learnt fast how to take the very long way home, blocks and blocks away, just to make it home safe.  My Dad laughed it off though (easier now I suppose).  Made me remember similar stories of my old childhood… I could go on but in  a nutshell, I was a « Frog » in Ontario and a « Bloke » when I came to visit in Quebec. I’ve always lived on the edge of both so I feel at home here in Montreal because I am simply bilingual. A real hybrid.

Anyhow, on a second visit later this same summer, my Dad and I went to Home Depot to get a few things for the house but we also took quite the detour. We ended up on Boyer St. north of St-Zotique where he grew up and once there the memories kept flowing. I wish I could pull a google maps photo but for whatever reason my Dad’s street portion doesn’t have the street view. The home was a small 4.5 apart. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it that, it was a double-living room, a closet sized kitchen with a half-bedroom. It was on the bottom floor of a triplex which had one of those horse-carriage entry ways which meant my Dad’s apartment was the smallest of the building. My grandparents had 4 kids in that home and my Dad, the oldest, grew up there between the ages of 2 and 17. My Dad was trying to explain all of this to me and the current tenant was a little curious what these two men were doing outside of his apartment, so he opened the door and my Dad started talking about how he grew up there. The gentleman invited us in and here I could see that not much has probably changed since my Dad lived there. The original old floors (but crooked), the original mouldings (but painted over) but the only change was that they knocked down the wall of the half-bedroom to make an open concept with the kitchen. It was tiny as it was so I couldn’t believe 4 kids once slept in that space.  ‘Where did the beds fit?’ I thought. The backyard had changed since the owners removed the old 3-story sheds so the new tenants actually had a little room for a couple of chairs and a table.

Other memories poured out, my grandfather doing middle-of-the-night fire alarm evacuation tests, my grandfather turning Jehovah-Witness-then-later-Protestant (another reason for my Dad to be get beaten up), the local park, his best childhood friend « who lived right there » who he has lost touch with and the local butcher shop across the street (now a residence) where his mom used to send him over to get bones for soups. The bones were free and the butcher knew my Dad’s family was poor so he would leave a little bit more meat on the bone than one would expect. My grandmother would scrape that off and put it in the soup. This sure gave me a visual of some of those old photos we see in museums of families crammed up in small apartments.

Anyhow, my Dad and I were on our way home and out of the blue, I asked him if he wanted to get a beer at Dieu du Ciel in my mom’s old Mile-End neighbourhood. Thinking that my Dad would say ‘no, we’ll just go home’, he said « sure » and off we went for a pint of microbrewery goodness.  All these memories makes you realize how short life is and how tough it is for many of us. So rather than going back home, we experienced a moment together, one worth remembering.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day!

Les 10 jours des arts du Faubourg

Bonjour, il y a un nouveau festival au Centre-Sud dans le coin de Sainte-Marie qui se nomme Les 10 jours des arts du faubourg. J’ai eu une petite conversation via le courriel avec Stéphan Toupin, le chargé de projet et relationniste, pour parler un peu de ce nouveau festival qui semble inclure autant la musique, la danse que l’art visuel (au Bain Mathieu, 2915 rue Ontario Est) :

 Le Cœur du Quartier (CQ) : SVP présentent nous ce nouveau festival.

 Stéphane Toupin (ST): Les 10 jours des arts du Faubourg est une occasion de se rencontrer au moment de la rentré culturelle dans un lieu un peu excentré du centre ville, le Bain Mathieu. C’est aussi l’occasion de faire connaître des artistes visuels du quartier, de susciter des rencontres avec des musiciens, des danseurs et de créer une ambiance propice aux plaisirs partagés de montrer des créations d’ici. Nous avons sélectionné différents groupes musicaux afin qu’il y en ait pour tout les goûts. Nous aurons également pour terminer la soirée entre amis des DJ sets jus’aux petites heures du jeudi au samedi. De quoi s’amuser ferme.

CQ : Pourquoi faites-vous ce festival?

ST : C’est une première année pour festival des 10 jours des arts du Faubourg et le but était de créer un évènement marquant pour la rentrée culturel de septembre dans notre quartier. Le quartier Centre-Sud possède des artistes hors du commun et des salles vraiment très intéressantes, il fallait organiser un évènement qui amènerait des musiciens, des danseurs et des peintres à se produire et se rencontrer dans un lieu propice au bouillonnement de la créativité.

CQ : Qu’est-ce qui vous distingue des autres festivals?

ST : Les 10 jours des arts du faubourg est unique en ce sens que la plus grande partie des artistes qui y participent proviennent de ce quartier. Afin de rayonner plus loin nous avons ajouté d’autres artistes qui pourront ainsi mieux connaître l’endroit et qui sait peut-être l’adopter.

CQ : Pourquoi choisissez-vous le quartier Centre-Sud pour la présentation de ce festival?

ST: C’est mon quartier d’adoption et il regorge de gens intéressants et créatifs et de lieux magnifiques et propices à la diffusion des arts. Au début nous voulions également utiliser les nombreux parcs du quartier puis nous nous sommes rendu compte que la salle du Bain Mathieu recelait tout ce dont nous avions besoin. Une salle d’exposition, la possibilité d’y produire des artistes de scène musicale et même de la danse contemporaine. Nous pouvons disposer la salle de façon à rendre justice aux différents médiums de création. L’équipe du Bain Mathieu et de la Spag sont avec nous et nous les en remercions.

CQ : Avez-vous des plans pour faire cela un évènement annuel?

ST : C’est notre but et nous mettons tous nos efforts pour y parvenir. Nous avons eut une subvention de l’arrondissement, bien petite nous l’admettons, pour nous permettre de démarrer. Nous avons un site internet, une page Facebook et nous avons des publicités dans le Voir qui, espéront, vont intéresser les spectateurs et les amateurs d’arts suffisamment pour qu’ils nous rendent une petite visite. Si la réponse du public est bonne nous allons poursuivre l’aventure aussi longtemps que possible. Faites partie de cette réussite et venez avec vos amis.

À noter dans vos calendriers (Bain Mathieu, 2915 rue Ontario Est) :

Le festival commence le jeudi 9 septembre dès 17h avec un vernissage de l’exposition des 10 jours des Arts du Faubourg. Entré Libre.

Pour la programmation entière et les prix des spectacles, visiter :

Le samedi 11 septembre, participez à la Fête du parc Médéric-Martin!

Je suis bien occupée c’est journées ci sur la préparation de la fête de notre parc Médéric-Martin.  Voici un peu de détails pour vos agendas (et la programmation suivra sous peu):

L’Association des amis du parc Médéric-Martin vous invite à participer à sa deuxième fête annuelle qui se déroulera le samedi 11 septembre 2010, de 13 h à 17 h.
L’année dernière, 250 personnes ont participé à cette belle fête de quartier. Pour que cette deuxième édition soit elle aussi un véritable succès, nous comptons sur votre présence. Au programme, des activités pour les jeunes et les adultes. Nous dévoilerons la semaine prochaine le contenu détaillé de la programmation de cette fête.

Une date à inscrire à votre agenda
Le 11 septembre prochain, amenez vous avec vos enfants, vos amis, et vos voisins. Nous vous attendons nombreux !