Outremont Short-Cut

outremont alleyway

The staircase at the intersection of Côte-Sainte-Catherine and Laurier would appear to lead up to a private home, but those who follow it up past an imposing row of houses will find themselves in a narrow footpath between dwellings.

This seemingly-secret passage emerges on Maplewood Avenue. Half a block west, a second flight of stairs provides a short cut between Maplewood and Blvd Mont-Royal- if in doubt look for the green hand rail:


Although neither of the alleys is marked at the bottom both have signage at the top. In one case a one-way sign displays the words “stairs towards Côte-Sainte-Catherine,” as if to imply that the staircase is unidirectional. Another sign forbids loitering.
one way staircase?

Although the passage may have been designed to provide a handy short-cut for those who live high in the hills of Outremont to nip down to Laurier Ouest for an espresso, the alley also happens to provide short-cut up to the mountain for the rest of us. From Boulevard Mont-Royal, dozens of paths dart up into the greenery of Mount Royal, criss-crossing one of its less-explored faces.

But I can’t think of many public spaces in Montreal that feel this intimate, which may explain why the passage seems to be intentionally camouflaged, at least to those of us who live at the bottom end of the steps.


  1. this is the access to maplewood that is the shortest route to the metro at edward montpetit.

    If you want to talk about secret staircases, go investigate the hills of westmount.

  2. Also a nice set of stairs up to the westmount summit
    Link to street view:

    Nice to go up past those mansions on the hill!

  3. Between Maplewood and Mount-Royal Blvd, there is a lovely lane, reminiscent of Europe

  4. Used to take my dog up to the Westmount summit through the stairs Mike mentions. Kindof miss living in NDG at times… but also nice to live on the east for the first time in my Montreal life. There are some neat ruelle passage ways in my new neighbourhood that I should picture and blog about at some point (maybe next summer when the flowers are back in bloom).

  5. San Francisco has quite a few public stairs as well, some landscaped by their neighbours with quite lovely gardens along them. Berkeley as well.

  6. Ces escaliers ont été construits surtout et avant tout pour les bonnes, les femmes de ménages, les nounous qui se déplacent en transport en commun et à pieds en fait, presque exclusivement pour le personnel qui travaille chez les riches de Westmount et Outremont qui eux ne se déplacent qu’en grosse bagnole. Mais ces nombreux escaliers, parfois cachés ou même secrets profitent aussi au marcheurs et aux randonneurs urbains surtout ceux qui aiment mettre à épreuve leur cardio-vasculaire.

  7. they shovel all the snow out of here in winter by hand! This impresses me quite a lot.

  8. I used to use those stairs all the time as a kid – had forgotten about them! Thanks!

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