Monday, December 6, 2010

Montreal Part 8: Civic Aesthetic

Welcome to the eighth and final installment of the series "What I learned in Montréal," documenting the day trip a friend and I took in May to check out Montréal's cycling and transit infrastructure for lessons that can be applied in Ottawa. Previously, in Part 7, I talked about our experiences with Montréal's Bixi bicycle-sharing system, and some of their bicycle parking infrastructure.

While in Montréal, I took some photos of things that didn't belong in any particular themes. Just some interesting things and observations.

Montréal's old city hall was undergoing renovations during our visit.

But instead of simply hiding this architectural gem behind plain construction material--as has been done with Parliament Hill--the likeness of the building was printed onto the construction webbing so that tourists like us could still get an idea of what was under there. That's a very sensitive way of restoring and appreciating heritage buildings.

Note also in the above photo the Falun Dafa group in blue and white in the square next to City Hall. The group looked smaller than Ottawa's.

Montréal has what we in Ottawa call "kindness meters", which they refer to "Parcodon". In case you're not familiar with them, they're repurposed parking meters where you can give money for homelessness issues, and in Ottawa they're administered by the municipal government. I always found it ironic that small-government Larry O'Brien found a way to bureaucratize panhandling. Montréal's are gussied up more than Ottawa's, thanks to artwork added with sponsorship. There's also an interpretive plaque next to it, which you can read by viewing the full-size photo.

In Old Montréal, this little piece of street art was in an alley. We were hoping to see a swap box, but alas we found none.

When we got off the subway station at Côte-Vertu, we walked around to see some of the things Montréal in its further-out central neighbourhoods. This old mixed-used building has a steel exoskeleton:

Walking around the neighbourhood, I was a bit unsettled by these oval-shaped street name signs. They seem to be of fixed size, and require relatively small print to fit the street name onto them.

I noticed this downtown as well. As I remarked in part 2 of the series, Montréal doesn't have large street signs above major intersections like Ottawa does. This makes it hard to find where you're going if you're not familiar with an area, because you have to look for a small sign on the other side of major arterial to see where you are. I mentioned this to someone from Vélo Québec the other day, and he said the large signs help people go faster, and therefore is unsafe. I don't buy this argument: while yes people may slow down to look for the signs, while they're doing so they aren't paying attention to other traffic.

Riding back toward downtown, we went by some nice sights. This pavillion in Parc Saint-Viateur, for example.

I noticed that the multi-unit houses in Montréal have a front door for each apartment, in contrast to Ottawa's tendency to have a single front door with internal separation of the apartments. It was interesting to go by row houses and see three or four doors on each one. I didn't get a photo of it, but it's not hard to find on Google Street View. Here's an example.

Continuing along, my eye was caught by these bicycle-themed decorations on the fence in front of a house. It wasn't as exciting when I went back to take a closer look, but it's a neat concept nonetheless.

I'll finish off the series with a photo of a really nice mural on the side of a shop. Click to see the full-size photo to see all the intricate linework.

And that is What I Learned in Montréal. I hope you enjoyed it and learned some things about Montréal and Ottawa along the way.

I've noticed that many posts on Images of Centretown lately have been focusing on issues in the south-west end of Centretown (that's where I work, so that's where I can take photos in daylight!), and on cycling issues. Now that the Montréal series is finished, I hope to get back to a wider variety of Centretown topics. I'll try to keep up the Monday-Wednesday-Friday noon updates, with the occasional extra post squeezed in here or there.

1 comment:

  1. One can find many of the famous spiral staircases in the Plateau area:,-75.698194&sspn=0.987194,2.469177&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Montreal,+Communaut%C3%A9-Urbaine-de-Montr%C3%A9al,+Quebec&ll=45.521173,-73.609664&spn=0.003879,0.009645&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=45.521107,-73.609513&panoid=bzoH5JwN6cCBFp2mSlX27Q&cbp=12,215.98,,0,-2.51