Westmount is probably the most heavily stereotyped municipality in Quebec. It is the epitome of anglophone privilege and WASP snobbery, a posh district best represented by the “elderly women in pink suits” on Greene Avenue. While there is a grain of truth to that, as with any stereotype, Westmount is far more interesting than its reputation would suggest.
In fact, Westmount is one of my favourite places to wander on a sunny day, and my favourite place in Westmount is below Ste. Catherine, near the CPR tracks, where a procession of little streets contain a world of pleasant rowhouses and quiet dead-end streets. My walks usually start a bit east of Westmount itself, in Shaughnessy Village, where the blocks around Souvenir Street contain a number of surprising buildings and laneways. Heading west across Atwater Avenue, there’s Weredale Park, a strange circle of houses hidden behind Dorchester Boulevard. Beyond that are small, leafy streets with names like Bruce and Blenheim, most running straight into the CPR tracks and the escarpment on which they sit. Walk to the end of these streets and you can peer through a chain-link fence towards the church towers and silos of the city’s southwest.
Strolling around here is nice enough during the day, but it’s even better at night, when it feels like you have the streets all to yourself. Get lost in the laneways and stop by the playground at Stayner Park for a ride on the swings, which offer the perfect vantage point from which to admire the quaint Victorian cottages across the street. Don’t make too much noise, though; it’s Westmount, after all.
Click here for a map of my proposed walking route.