- Photos André-Olivier Lyra / www.lyraphoto.com
Montcalm Running Club Collaboration
Sometimes you cross the neighborhood saying to yourself: it looks like a kind of wonderful village in the city.
Imposing brick houses, luxurious ancestral homes, villas that seem transplanted from any seaside, succession of streets, large or small, lined with trees that touch the sky. Here are some of them who could tell, from the top of their summit, how this suburb for wealthy English speakers who fled the insalubrity of the city center became an island of the bourgeoisie. Then a haunt of hippies which also housed the official residence of the Prime Minister, avenue des Braves, saw General de Gaulle pass by, chemin Sainte-Foy, and grow up Robert Lepage, avenue Murray.
Between the Plains and the Parc des Braves, there are so many stories that they overflow downwards. Rolling down from Cap Blanc, as you do to reach Petit Champlain by trotting on the wooden steps that seem to be suspended in the void. Or else to the north, choosing one of the innumerable staircases that you often take.
Your favorite, of course, is the one that starts at the very top of Salaberry and which allows you to come out, under the cape, in a small park which houses the cave of the Virgin. Unrecognized place of pilgrimage, abandoned. Destination for partygoers in search of the picturesque. And for runners who like to punctuate their journey with joyful strangeness.
That said, it is from above that it is the most beautiful. Because Montcalm is not just a splendid district, it is also a promontory.
To the north and south, the views are stunning. Imperial. The river, from the top of the Plains, holds the horizon with its reassuring arm of water. On the other side, from the Parc des Braves, line up roofs and steeples; you can see the Saint-Charles River, then the northern crown which stretches to the mountains.
You run from one to the other. You pinch yourself. "I live here. I must never forget how beautiful it is,” you tell yourself.
From east to west, your two favorite streets are definitely Fraser and Père-Marquette streets. The second has been developed to promote active transportation and reduce car traffic. You can almost always run there in the middle of the street. You always feel at home in this succession of townhouses, apartments, in this quiet island, away from the arteries that are René-Lévesque and Chemin Sainte-Foy. In winter, you find yourself sheltered from the wind. In summer, in the shade, under the foliage. In the fall, you can't help but swoon when the fire of dead leaves seizes it.
There are days when you want people. So you survey Cartier. With its classics: the Provisions grocery store, the Krieghoff. You zigzag. Go up towards Saunders, slanting south on Bourlamaque: the National Museum of Fine Arts is there watching you through its glass rampart. You come back from the Park, one of your favorites. Without really knowing why, perhaps because of its disparate roofs, its slightly brighter colors, you've always found it vaguely psychedelic.
And then there are the Plains. Again. Always. A turn of the ring. The trails on the side of the cape. The recent twisting descent down Gilmour. Your wonder for this park as big as the whole neighborhood is an eternally renewable source of pleasure.
You never stop exploring. To discover. Lemesurier's cul-de-sac. The alley at the end of Dumont which leads into the parking lot next to the St. Patrick Cultural Centre. The trail along the Lucien-Borne park. Montcalm is like a loved one you think you know everything about, but each race allows you to dig deeper into his secrets, revealing something new to you. A retreat, a stone that had not yet been turned over. Only on your feet can you frequent a neighborhood so close that it becomes a friend.