The Civic Pride of Montreal

For only a fraction of the year can one tolerate the outdoors in Montreal.  The winter presents a forbidding obstacle to Montrealers enjoying their many public spaces. Needless to say, Montreal packs the summer full of events to take advantage of the brief time during the year when one couldn’t plausibly mistake the streets of Montreal for the Siberian wilderness.  Montreal’s civic pride comes to the forefront during these summer celebrations.  Montrealers exhibit a fierce pride in their city, on full display throughout the summer months.  Deterred only by the omnipresent road construction during the summer months, Montreal makes the most of their warm weather and the amenities that their city has to offer.

The eponymous Mont Royal dominates the center of Montreal, barring travel across the island, but also offering stunning views of all parts of the city.  An outcrop on the mountain facing the southeast sports one of the city’s most stunning views of downtown Montreal.  Here, on the lookout overlooking downtown, the city sponsors a series of evening concerts of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.  These performances, casual affairs, are dedicated to the city itself and draw huge crowds.  The large crowds testify to the civic spirt of Montrealers: the Kondiaronk Belvadere, where the concerts take place, sits near the top of the tallest peak of Mount Royal, a climb of about seven hundred feet.  For those unwilling or unable to make the climb, the city provided public busses to shuttle concert-goers there and back.  By the time the concert started, several hundred people had gathered to hear the orchestra, despite the heavy winds and the chance of rain that evening.

Venture down the slope of Mount Royal, through downtown, and one will find themselves in the Quartier des Spetacles.  During the summer, this part of the city plays host to a great number of festivals, including notably the Montreal International Jazz Festival near the Place des Arts.  This space, a massive pedestrian zone located off of the Rue Ste-Catherine, serves as a hub for Montreal’s cultural scene during the summers.  Montrealers gather here throughout the day to dine, socialize, listen to music, and have coffee.  Faced with the prospect of a long and cold winter characterized by short days and long nights, it should come as little surprise that the residents of the city find joy in escaping the indoors during the summer, even if the temperatures sometimes soar into the eighties and nineties Fahrenheit.

Once the temperature cools down in the evening, a short ride down the Orange Line of the metro will bring one from downtown to Parc Jarry, one of the larger urban parks of Montreal.  On summer evenings with good weather, residents of Montreal flock in droves to the park to enjoy dinner with friends and family, to socialize, to gather and play music, or to do whatever strikes them.  Perhaps the most striking about this scene, however, is the number of people who venture out to the park, as well as all of Montreal’s public spaces.  People appear happy to venture out and about; the very act of doing so seems to demonstrate their pride in the city.  Being out in the city’s public spaces allows them to appreciate the city more fully; more so than just living in Montreal, the city’s public spaces and public functions and festivals allow Montrealers to revel in their city in the company of others who feel the same way.IMG_6113

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