Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Architectours 2009 : being a tourist in your own home

Read more articles by

Touring Montréal« Un petit chez soi vaut mieux qu’un grand chez les autres. »
– Proverbe français

Let’s face it. This summer was garbage. It rained; then there was Jazz Fest. It rained again; then there was Just for Laughs. Il pleuvait; then there was Francofolies. It rained some more.

Even the tourists kept away.

Maybe I’m just a pessimist.
Perhaps I just need a boost of Vitamin D.

Accordingly, I’m going to go escape to the south of France for a month and become reacquainted with my friend Mr. Sun. You are all welcome to join me. However, for those of you who are unable to find their swimsuit and tag along, Héritage Montréal is offering every weekend, from now until October 4th, an opportunity to « explorer à pied les merveilles de l’architecture et de l’histoire des quartiers de la métropole ».

From Outremont to Westmount to Hochelaga to the le centre-ville, Architectours 2009 offers 9 different urban expeditions, conveniently accessed via public transit, on a variety of themes.

Of note are:
The Square of the Metropolis
A “revitalisation” of Dorchester Square is currently in the planning stages. See one of Montréal’s oldest public spaces before the city either: a) renders it into a bland community void; b) destroys the last vestiges of life within it; c) all of the above; or d) none of the above

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve – a built heritage of public spaces
Once the epicentre for the early 20th century francophone elite, I think it goes without saying what this area of Montréal has become. Re-imagine the neighbourhood in the grandeur that its founders sought out to create.

St. Paul Street – an expressway?
On a night replete with intoxicants, someone launched into a texte argumentatif, including thèse, antithèse and synthèse, on why Montréal was the best city in Canada. While most of his observations were spot on – this is a pretty damn great city – one thing he highlighted was gravely erroneous. He informed me that: In Montréal, our visionary city leaders have always striven to preserve our history – just look at le Vieux-Port! Take this tour and learn how our so-called “visionary city leaders” were hell bent on pushing an elevated expressway right through the now beloved area.

Being a tourist in your own city allows you to become acquainted with the sights, sounds, and smells that we all take for granted. Continuously rushing from point A to point B, do we ever really get to know this town in which we live? Who, amongst you, has never ventured to the top of Mount Royal; has never participated in a city festival; has never exposed their inner hippie at the Tam Tams? How can one feel part of the community if one hasn’t even experienced it?

Get out and learn you some Montréal. Rain or shine.

français :

english :

Image credits:

MONTRÉAL – Émile Thomas



  1. I live in TO and let me tell you, here it really was garbage! My nicest memory of this summer will be a long weekend in Mtl in June (amazingly, didn’t rain). I try to get there a couple of times a year because the architourism is truly excellent. Though I’ve been dozens of times, I see a different city every visit.

  2. Living here more than 3 years now I’m still a tourist in my own city and I think and hope I always will be – even in areas now familiar to me I am always peeling back layers of the onion, finding new things – “hmm, never noticed that before!” Tours by longtime citoyens help this (e.g., tree tours, Jane’s Walks, a tour of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve given by a guy named Myke a couple of years ago), as do other thematic ones like those you mention. Just remembering to look up and around even as one goes about the mundane rewards one with serendipitous delights, which pique curiosity about their origins.

    Most of all one connects the past, with its imperfections and outrages, its gems and sources of pride, with the living city of the present, with an awareness that the struggle to keep what’s best, what’s sustainable, is an unending one.

  3. I’ve lived here 50 years and I still enjoying walking and discovering this city.

    Speaking of which, I took a stroll through Parc Lafontaine today and noticed a fairly big turtle sitting on a rock at the edge of the pond. Would have to have been a foot long from tail to nose. Would have let me touch it, though I didn’t want to hassle it by doing so. Wish I had a camera so I could prove it to you.

    Anyone else ever spotted these? Is Lafontaine know to have these?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *