Dubious copyright historical trivia quiz challenge!

Can you guess what the Canadian Illustrated News has illustrated on the front page of its May 27, 1871 issue?

« Unearthing of the Dead to Make a Way for the Living. A sketch on Cemetery Street »

« Unearthing of the Dead to Make a Way for the Living. A sketch on Cemetery Street. »

The first to guess the correct answer will win a fabulous prize! Get ON it!

EDIT: For bonus points, what is the current name of Cemetery Street?

DOUBLE EDIT: There is a winner! Details after the break!

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Living it up, SHAUG TOWN style

The area between Atwater, Sherbrooke, Guy, and René-Lévesque has a couple names going for it.  Shaughnessy Village.  Lincoln-Tupper.  The West End.  None of these names have much currency in conversation, though, and they seem to carry their own connotations.  Shaghnessy Village implies–principally–the area south of Ste-Catherine.  Lincoln-Tupper would logically be bounded by its eponymous streets.  The “West End” tag is logical enough, but just as likely to refers to NDG, and is perilously similar to “West Island”.  Though comprising one of the most densely-populated census tracts in Quebec, the neighborhood doesn’t have a definitive label.

Spacing Montreal recently wrote about the difficulty in determining what constitutes a neighborhood.  The post linked to Le Coeur de Sainte-Marie, a blog that investigates the names and boundaries that have helped define the Centre-Sud’s identity.  If nothing else, the resulting discussion underscored the difficulty in assigning a name to a location. Places as complex as neighborhoods, where personal experience and subjective opinion matter as much as simple geography, are not easy to label.  In peeling back the layers of history, the fascinating legacy of wards, parishes, old municipalities, and colloquial nicknames on the area’s toponymy becomes apparent.  Can any neighborhood–let alone the subject of this post–be objectively called anything?

Yes.  I’m going to resolve the ambiguity and dub the area “Shaug Town”. Much better ring to it.



Having lived for two years on Mackay, a stone’s throw from the Shaug Town‘s eastern border, I’d like to think I know a bit about the dirty streets of downtown’s western annex.  Though not the city’s prettiest neighborhood–or even close– its unexpected vibrancy and wild contrasts mitigate any lack of good looks.

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HONK HONK! Here comes the ÉCOLOBUS!

I love riding the 515 bus (pdf).  I won’t lie.  Despite a long, unnecessarily stretch along René-Lévesque, seasonal schedule changes, and dual direction designations that don’t make the least bit of sense to anyone, I think this underdog route has a charm all its own. Who doesn’t love playing the tourist once in a while?

Almost no one, judging from the bus’s anemic ridership.

Fagstein has a pretty thorough rundown of the 515’s shortcomings, and recently wrote about its current tribulations. Spacing Montreal called the route a failure.  Even Benoît Labonté is ganging up on the bus, calling for the removal of the reserved bus lane on De la Commune.

I say enough! Leave the tourist bus alone! Like the young boy that brings his cool new Pokemon lunch-tote to school, only to have the bullies call it “totally for girls”, I get a bit misty-eyed to know that my likable loser of a bus route is the target of such derision.

Instead of being resigned to crying in the nurse’s office–like last time– it is now possible to salvage both my dignity and the route.



The Réseau de transport de la Capitale introduced the Écolobus in 2008. The Écolobus–a small electric minibus–runs a short route through the roads of Vieux-Quebec, hitting the requisite tourist destinations along the way. There’s no confusing schedules to consult–it runs at steady 20 minute intervals from from 5:30 AM until 1:00 AM. There’s no issue of confusing bus stop signs–you simply flag down the bus as you would a taxi. Maybe. I don’t recall seeing any bus stops anyway, and the drivers were kind enough to stop whenever I waved ran towards them, wildly flailing my arms, screaming, “ÉCOLOBUUUS!”

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Rainy Sunday in Saint-Henri

When I started this blog–all of five days ago–I had a rough idea of the direction I wanted it to go in.  To me, irreverence is an important part of Montreal’s identity–we have neon-caped strippers standing vigil over our principal commercial street–and I thought the city’s blogs often failed to reflect that. Too much heaviness.  You cannot seriously compare waiting for the 80 bus to Waiting for Godot.

If I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to accomplish, I knew exactly what I wanted to avoid: self-important introspection, poetic musings, and–especially– anything relating to the word “artsy”.

Unfortunately, walking around rainy Saint-Henri today didn’t really lend itself to anything lighthearted. For any self-important introspection, poetic musings, and artsy-ness of any sort, I apologize wholeheartedly.

Workman, looking east towards Greene

Workman, looking east towards Greene

I walked down to Saint-Henri today largely to satisfy my morbid curiosity about the discovery of Jessica Neilson. Since her disappearance four months ago, her body had sat undisturbed in a car parked in an alley off of Workman, near the corner of Greene.

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West-End revitalization

The Montreal City Weblog, in a rare bit of editorializing, condemned the Forum for essentially anchoring the blight that plagues downtown’s west-end. With a coherent plan to replace the dilapidated Seville block finally taking form, one hopes a similar fate awaits the Forum.

With that in mind, here is a picture made with MS Paint:

Photoshop has nothing on me

Photoshop has nothing on me

Made in Montreal. (Sort of)

One is an antiquated streetcar introduced in 1928.  The other is a low-floor bus released less than fifteen years ago. One of them has an unfortunate habit of catching fire. The other is still going strong:

Photo by MAGICAKES. Used with permission.

Photo by Elena Sicconi, who nearly got fined for riding without a ticket

Riding on one of Milan’s 200 Peter Witt model streetcars is alternatingly exhilarating and soul-crushing for the transit geek. Exhilarating, because it’s an 80-year-old piece of transportation history, remarkably beautiful and well-maintained. Soul crushing, because it’s an 80-year-old piece of transportation history, remarkably more effective than the modern $500,000 Novabuses putting around the streets of Montreal. There’s a similarity between these wonderful Milanese trams and the STM’s combustion-prone lemons, though.

They were both built in Montreal. Continue reading

Getting smashed on wheatgrass shots

In the nascent Quartier des Spectacles, the green sign sitting quietly at Ste-Catherine and Clark draws little attention to itself. Like dozens of other placards in the area, the sign promises future development; unremarkable in a neighborhood undergoing a major re-imagining as a world-class entertainment destination. However, in one crucial respect, the project at Ste-Catherine and Clark is unique. In a district promising fun and excitement, this development boldly stands alone, promising serious business:

Where's my (fair trade) beans at?

Where's my (fair trade) beans at??

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