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Run your city // Run Montcalm

Cours ta ville // Courir Montcalm

- Photos André-Olivier Lyra /
Collaboration Montcalm Running Club

You sometimes walk through the neighborhood and say to yourself: it looks like a kind of wonderful village within the city.

Imposing brick houses, luxurious ancestral homes, villas that seem transplanted from some seaside, a succession of streets, large or small, lined with trees that touch the sky. Here are some of them who could tell, from their peaks, how this suburb for rich English-speakers who were fleeing the unsanitary conditions of the city center became an island of the bourgeoisie. Then a den 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 Robert Lepage grow up, avenue Murray.

Between the Plains and Braves Park, there are so many stories that they overflow downwards. Tumbling from Cap Blanc, as you do to reach Petit Champlain, trotting on the wooden steps which seem suspended in the void. Or head north, choosing one of the countless stairs you often take.

Your favorite, obviously, is the one which starts at the very top of Salaberry and which allows you to emerge, under the cape, in a small park which shelters the cave of the Virgin. Little-known, abandoned place of pilgrimage. Destination for party-goers looking for something picturesque. And for runners who like to punctuate their journeys with delightful strangeness.

That said, it's the most beautiful from above. Because Montcalm is not only a splendid neighborhood, it is also a promontory.

To the north and south, the views are breathtaking. 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, roofs and bell towers line up; we 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 routes are certainly Fraser and Père-Marquette streets. The second was developed to encourage active transportation and reduce automobile traffic. You can almost always run there in the middle of the street. You always feel at home in this succession of townhouses and apartments, in this quiet island, far from the arteries of René-Lévesque and Chemin Sainte-Foy. In winter, you find yourself sheltered from the wind there. Summer, in the shade, under the foliage. In autumn, you can't help but swoon when the fire of the dead leaves takes over.

There are days when you want people. So you walk around Cartier. With its timeless favorites: the Provisions grocery store, the Krieghoff. You wander. Go back towards Saunders, angled south towards Bourlamaque: the National Museum of Fine Arts is there observing you through its glass rampart. You come down from the Park, one of your favorites. Without really knowing why, perhaps because of its disparate roofs, its slightly brighter colors, you always found it vaguely psychedelic.

And then there are the Plains. Again. Always. A round of the ring. The paths on the side of the cape. The recent twisty descent to the bottom of 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. The Lemesurier cul-de-sac. The alley at the end of Dumont which opens into the parking lot adjoining the St. Patrick Cultural Center. The trail along Lucien-Borne park. Montcalm is like a loved one about whom you think you know everything, but each race allows you to dig a little deeper into its secrets, revealing something new to you. A retreat, a stone that had not yet been turned over. Only on your feet can you frequent such a close neighborhood that it becomes a friend.