Category Archives: Montreal

Montreal Musings

Ziggy's

It’s been almost three weeks in Montreal now, and I’m really wishing I owned a car with air conditioning.

Aside from trying to settle in, which is asking a lot considering we came from a sleepy and beautiful little town with not a whole lot of hustle bustle, Luci and I have done some Montreal touring. Toured and got lost. That’s what we do. We’re pros.

We spent some time in Old Montreal with Marjo, who was a delight. A lovely woman full of vim and vigour, who looks about twenty years younger than she is. It’s serious fun when I can finally meet someone from my blog. First Marjo and then Darth. Good people, these Habs fans. Fine Montrealers. I’ll bet they don’t tailgate like everybody else.

We walked through the Montreal Forum, which wasn’t a delight and wasn’t lovely. Unless you’re a fan of indoor malls with hockey mementos scattered about and ghosts of hockey past hovering in the ceiling, pulling their invisible hair out.

We walked the halls of the Bell Centre, and although the doors were locked, we can now say we’ve been there. In a boring and idiotic kind of way.

We took in some blues at Bistro a Jojo’s on Rue St. Denis, which was both a cool bar and a cool street. We walked along Ste. Catherines, spent an afternoon on club-filled Crescent St., (which I’d like to see on a Friday or Saturday night), drove up to Mount Royal and peered over part of the city, but the best view meant paying for parking and I’m tired of getting shafted so we pretended the view was there as we drove away.

We’ve been stuck in major traffic more than once, went to the Bell Complex in Brossard and watched Habs prospects teach kids at a hockey school, and found a Russian grocery store for Luci.

We’ve had people honk their horns at us, and after I almost ran over a guy on a bicycle, he yelled and swore at me and I yelled back, because I’m not going to take it anymore. Even if I did almost kill him and it was my fault. But I was lost and looking around, gawdammit.

It’s been great fun sometimes, and sometimes not. We feel we’re outsiders, not part of anything. Lost souls working on a new chapter. Hoping to become comfortable. A part of things. Become Montrealers, at least for now. Sharing the same city as did Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler, Toe Blake’s Tavern, and the Rocket and Morenz.

I just miss my cat and she misses me. But I’ll get her here, come hell or high St. Lawrence water.

 

Just One Month?

It seems crazy that just one month ago exactly, we drove out of Powell River, stayed in a bunch of hotels as we crossed the country, visited family and friends in Ontario, went to Niagara Falls, then to Ottawa, then on to Montreal where we stayed in a hotel for a week while we found a place to live. And once we did, I started a new job and have been there for eight days now.

Whew!

Just a month. Feels longer. In a good way.

It’s been a big thing for Luci and I. We uprooted from a small town on the West Coast, Powell River, and now it’s Montreal where everyone drives fast but I’m doing what I think is a fine and unique job and Luci likes our apartment.

We don’t know where we’ll be in five years, and someday Luci and I will look back on this big adventure and think how fantastic the experience was. So far there’s been no regrets from either of us. And I think being in Montreal during hockey season will be serious fun. Can’t wait for TSN 690 to heat up on my car radio.

It’s all been really interesting, this last month. Just hate the traffic, that’s all.

Fine Montreal Moment

Luci was halfway through a walk to Walmart yesterday when the sky opened and rain poured down. A Montreal city bus driver driving by stopped, picked her up, and dropped her off at Walmart, all out of the goodness of his heart.

I thought this was darn nice. Never seen it before.

Going Back To St. Hyacinthe

Luci and I spent part of Sunday in the city of St. Hyacinthe, 50 kilometres east of Montreal.

I wanted to go back and see it because when I was in grade nine we were asked if we wanted to do a French-English exchange during the summer and I volunteered. Several towns and cities were available to choose from, and I chose St. Hyacinthe because it was near Montreal and Habs right winger Bobby Rousseau was a golf pro there.

I think the Canadiens also held their training camps there from time to time, which gave it extra bonus points.

I spent a month with a nice French family, the Chaputs, and then my new friend Normand Chaput came with me to Orillia for a month. We had  hitchhiked all over Quebec and even slept in our sleeping bags on the Plains of Abraham, and from Orillia we thumbed down to Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and up to Bracebridge to see a charity hockey game starring a kid from the Oshawa Generals playing for the Orillia team that day, Bobby Orr.

Today in St. Hyacinthe Luci and I went to Frontenac St., where the Yamaska River flows behind, and I saw that the old Chaput house is now gone, as well as the complete neighborhood, which isn’t surprising considering it was about 48 years ago.. In place are beautiful and expensive homes, a far cry from when the street was a blue collar street with men coming and going who punched clocks and got their hands dirty.

We went downtown and it looked familiar, because Normand and I would go there from time to time to see live music in a teen club, including seeing a band I can still picture, with long, bleached white hair and singing Beatles tunes. I can almost remember their name.

We also accidentally drove by the old train station where the Chaputs greeted me when I stepped onto the platform all those years ago.

I’ve inclosed a couple of links from previous stories I’d written about that time, including the day we saw Bobby Orr, and also when I went back to St. Hyacinthe few years after that first time and did something I’m not proud of.

I wish I could find Normand Chaput or any of his family now. But I think it’s impossible to do.

Seeing Bobby Orr and George Chuvalo All In One Day

My Late Apology to the Chaput Family

Go Downtown, Men

The Habs development camp opened today in Brossard, and it got me thinking. I’m only seven minutes from the rink, and they might need a stick boy!

This is the kind of guy I am. Willing to go to development camp to hone my craft before the big team calls me up for the big stick boy job.

I’ve been told that many Habs live in the Brossard area, and if the wives need me to make them more comfortable, I can be there in minutes. This is the kind of guy I am. Sacrificing my time for the good of the wives.

It also got me thinking. Why would millionaire players live in the suburbs when they can afford a luxury condo downtown? Maybe it’s why many players don’t want to play in Montreal. They’ve never experienced what they should be experiencing. It’s a vibrant downtown, full of this and that. Better than Toronto’s downtown. Better than Vancouver’s. Even better than Orillia’s.

And way better than Philadelphia’s.

Instead, they park themselves in the suburbs where it could be any suburb in North America. It’s not right.

Brendan Gallagher, for example, has been living at Josh Gorges’ place in Brossard. There’s the ridiculously nutty Champlain Bridge to cross, and I’ll bet young Gally is bored silly at home. Gorges and his lady should buy a condo on Crescent or St. Denis, let Gallagher help out with the mortgage, and they might never leave, even after their playing days are over.

And that goes for any of them. C’mon Habs. Smarten up.

Chris Nilan said he lived in Brossard when he played for the Canadiens, hated the traffic on the bridge, and as soon as he moved into the core he began loving his life. Of course, maybe he loved life just a little too much but that’s not my fault.

Was Erik Cole unhappy because he didn’t live downtown? Is it why his smile was wiped away prior to last season and he got ants in his pants?

Maybe guys don’t play well  because they didn’t live downtown. Where did Scott Gomez live?

And is Brossard the reason why the team hasn’t won the Cup in twenty years?

It’s hard to understand. If I didn’t work on the south shore and have to battle the bridge thing, we’d be downtown. I’m certain about this. Coffee and bagels at the corner cafe. Short walks to pubs and bars and maybe the odd licensed establishment.. Old trees and old streets. People-watching. Bird feeding. Walk everywhere. Relive the Richard Riot on Ste. Catherines. Whatever I want.

I’m homesick for downtown and I’ve never lived there.

These players have all this money and they’re missing something fantastic because they want the big squeaky clean mansion in Brossard. They live in the kind of places you have to change your socks so you don’t get the floor dirty and I don’t understand it.

I think they’ve been hit on the head a few times too many.

 

First Day On The Job

Luci and I didn’t move to Montreal just so we could gaze at the St. Lawrence Seaway. We came here so I could work for Classic Auctions, and today was my first day.

My job is to describe items for their auction catalogues and website, and that’s what I did a little of today, along with getting good tips from a nice fellow named Frank. And because Luci and I had become nervous wrecks trying to find a place to live and getting lost every day, it re-routed much of the anxiety I probably would have had if everything had gone smoothly beforehand.

A fine example of why stress and anxiety can be good for you.

It was a good day, this first one. I got through it.

Tomorrow I’ll do it again, with different stuff. And I have to do a solid job. It’s serious business at Classic Auctions.

 

Visiting What’s Left Of The Forum

I finally saw what they did to our beautiful Forum. They reduced it to a cinema complex with a scattering of fast food places and Forum seats.

I spoke to a janitor there and he told me he recently saw Yvan Cournoyer sitting in one of the fast food places, pounding his cell phone on the table, trying to get it to work.

The guy sitting beside me isn’t real, if you’re wondering. He’s fake. Lacking soul. Kind of like the rest of the place.

Forum 8

Forum 1

Forum 2

Forum corridor

Forum hall

Forum 4

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Forum 5

 

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Day Two In Montreal

As a truck driver for twenty years, I became good pretty darn good at dealing with directions.

Montreal’s messing with my mind.

I’ve been lost a bunch of times since we got here. I’m ready to put my GPS under a cement truck.

Today in Brossard, after visiting a Russian grocery store nearby, we left for Candiac, just up the road about 15 kilometres to the west. I don’t even think you have to turn anywhere.

We ended up going east, over the Champlain Bridge, and into downtown Montreal.

But we made it back, and I told Luci I did it on purpose so she could see the St. Lawrence Seaway again.

I’d like to mention that people everywhere have been very friendly and helpful, and those didn’t speak English very well certainly gave it the old college try. I haven’t been helpful. I speak some basic French and I haven’t given anything close to the old college try.

I feel guilty that French Canadians are expected to speak English with us, to change from their native tongue as soon as they find out who they’re dealing with. They do it seamlessly, and I admire their ability to jump back and forth between languages. Often I’ve talked to people who speak with just a slight trace of an accent. To me it’s uncanny.

It seems unfair that they must switch to accommodate us, and we don’t have to do anything. I’m hoping to get better about this.

I’m also really hoping that the place we noticed in Candiac and will visit tomorrow will be the end of the apartment search. From B.C. to Montreal, it’s been the problem of what to do about a place to live which has been the most stressful.

A Good Day To Get Lost In Montreal

I had no idea that Monday was Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day in Quebec and so things in the heart of Montreal were quiet. For locals I suppose.

I can’t imagine when it’s busy. Luci and I were ready to find a street corner drug dealer.

I understand my GPS was screwed up because it seems there’s construction on every second street downtown and that will do it, but I had more trouble working my way around the inner core than I anticipated. It was completely different for me to come into downtown from Brossard in the south than when I used to show up from Ottawa in the east for a ballgame or hockey game years ago.

Different highway. Different directions. Different entrance.

Different way my brain cells can dissolve.

But I’ll get the hang of it quickly. I’m an adjuster.

Anyway, it kind of makes me proud that Montreal can be as screwed up as any other cosmopolitan city. They take a back seat to no one.

Luci and I just need to figure out the train and subway system and it’ll be smooth sailing.

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We parked in an empty parking lot, which was empty because it was a holiday, right beside the Bell Centre, and we walked through the corridors of the building I’ve never seen a game in, and we peered in through locked doors. I would have loved to have seen the seats and ice level and been around some kind of actual life, but it was empty everywhere. Although at least I now have an idea what’s it’s all about.

And of course I need to come back when things are open, and I will. I just wanted to see it, and dealing with quieter streets and empty parking lots was as good time as any.

I’m working hard to adjust my brain. It’s 2013 and the Bell Centre now, not the Forum. I just hope that when I finally see a game at this place, that it stirs my heart, sweeps me away, the way it did at the Forum so many times, so many years ago.

I saw where the condos beside the Bell will be built, and I see that prices begin at $250,000. So if everyone will kindly send me a total of about $249,000 or so,  Luci and I will be able to move into the Canadiens building, and I’ll write about the view every so often.

The sky grew dark as we left the Bell Centre, a hard rain fell, and it wasn’t easy to see while driving back to Brossard.

Maybe it was Scott Gomez’ ancestors getting back at me.

Bell 1

Bell 3

Bell 2

Bell 4