Saturday, 18 December 2010

Saturday Photo: Life on The Plateau

You live in a city for decades, and think you know it well because of all the walking you've done. And then you find yourself forced out of your usual circuit to discover the story behind things you already knew.

Take, for example, the district called Le Plateau. It is a little east and south of where we've lived and I always knew it was relatively flat. What I didn't realize is just how flat it is, and how as the city grew away from the St. Lawrence, it must truly have seemed a higher plateau than the riverside. What we have here is a picture taken from the terrace on top of the three story building where we're living now. You can see Mount Royal with the emblemantic cross on top. (Click on the picture to get a better look.)

The original cross was hoisted not quite 368 years ago during the first winter of settlement here. On Christmas Eve 1642 an ice jam on the St. Lawrence caused flooding in the village founded the previous spring by Paul de Chomemdy de Maisonnneuve. He vowed that if the settlement were spared devastation, he'd carry a cross to the top of the mountain. While Amerindian paths led around the mountain--Côte Ste-Catherine Road which I've written about before is an example--it's likely Maisonneuve's hike on January 6, 1643 was pretty tough going.

The current lighted cross went up in 1924, sponsored by the nationalist (and at the time quite Catholic) Société de Saint-Jean-Baptiste. It was refurbished with public funds a few years ago, amid questions about its place in a city and province that now officially non-laic. A symbol from the past that can't be denied, it was argued. Now I can see it from the bedroom of this quite nice apartment where we're holed up for the duration.


lagatta à montréal said...

I'm glad you have such a nice place while the work proceeds - we hope - on your house.

Indeed the Plateau is a plateau, but it rises slightly from south to north after the steeper rise which throughout the Plateau is mostly between Ontario and Sherbrooke, where the Plateau begins. And of course there is a slope away from Mont-Royal - very obvious looking down la rue Marie-Anne.

La Petite Patrie and southern Villeray are pretty flat too - if you go east to Rosemont there is quite an elevation there as well. Going northwards by the time you reach Jarry the island slopes off in the other direction. These slight hills are more noticeable cycling than walking, though unlike la côte Sherbrooke and the much worse hill up Atwater from Lionel-Groulx to Atwater métro stations, are no impediment or effort.

I'm listening to a European Union Christmas concert on CBC Radio 2 - think Radio-Canada 2 (Espace Musique) plays it later on in the season, closer to New Year's, though I haven't looked it up.

kim said...

Hi Mary
Lovely snow shot. Glad the insurance company is looking after you. Red wall and the golden wood of the floors + plants - looks warm and comforting.