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St-Michel Metro – End of the line blues

Posted by Nika / October 27, 2006

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pictures by Hilary Thomson

"Merci de voyager avec la STM", the cool automated voice bid us farewell over the intercom. As the train slowly pulled into the eastern-most terminus on the blue line, we eagerly gazed into the unknown station and we were instantly transported back to a time I love to hate: the mid-80s. Legwarmers, tube skirts, Duran Duran, Friday Night Videos, big hair and Nagel.

One of the first built stations on the most modern line of the metro system, St-Michel was inaugerated in 1986, the design work of architects Lemoyne & Associés. True to Montreal metro tradition, several artists gave a hand to the decorative aspect of the St-Michel platforms: Lauréat Marois, Normand Moffat, Charles Lemay and Marcelin Cardinal. All 4 artists exposed their unique paintings each behind a wall of glass block, the only unifying aspect of the mixed art work. Yes my friends, glass block and loads of it more awaits the traveller above, in the passageways leading outdoors.

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My photographer and I were excited, neither us having ever set foot anywhere east of the Jean-Talon station before. What I had heard of the St-Michel area was not necessarily positive, comprised mostly of stories about gangs and school stabbings. As I pushed upwards on the escalator, I pretended to grab hold of my imaginary concealed pocket knife. I had watched enough West Side Story and The Warriors in my lifetime to know what to expect.

What I found above was wholly disappointing: block upon block of old multi-family dwellings, the epitome of Balconville, a seemingly quiet agglomeration of small houses with a smattering of medical/dental clinics and garages. The closest source of food to the metro entrance was a dépanneur over a block away. Even closer to the metro, a pharmacy, obviously supplying the “extended care” facility across boulevard St-Michel.

As one of St-Michel’s exits expulses the traveller onto the dusty north side of boulevard St-Michel, a more peaceful issue is located on the south side of the boulevard, giving out onto Park Sandro-Pertini. Several large, old trees populate this small park, accounting for the pretty dappled sunlight on the benches strewn about. If it wasn’t for this park, this whole area may have easily succumbed to the world of concrete and vinyl siding that seems to have been the building blocks for this part of Villeray many years ago. Now, all I need is for someone to explain to me why this park is named after a soccer-loving, fascist-hating, socialist Italian president. Just a question.

The sun seemed to be setting so early that day, giving way to colder temperatures, we opted to shorten our walk to rue Jean-Talon and to the larger Parc François-Perrault, eager to return to the world of restaurants and bars for a bite to eat. A Snickers bar at the local dépanneur does not a dinner make.

Back down the escalators we hurried, under the grid-like lighting structures and onto the short platforms peppered with mosaics of grey, blue and yellow tiles. A train slowly pulled into the station from the dark of it’s resting place. Understandably, the area surrounding St-Michel metro is not a haven for the young jet-set crowd. Close to 3 schools, 2 community centers, a smattering of parks, a pool and a local library, this area is home ground for families and people searching for community without having to yield to the sedative lifestyle of the burbs nor the high-paced race of urban life.

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Discussion

5 Comments

Christopher DeWolf / November 2, 2006 at 03:04 am
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I've only been to St. Michel once, but the real action around here is on Jean-Talon Street, where there are Haitian and North American shops. And isn't the famous Restaurant Without A Name here too?
Christopher DeWolf / November 2, 2006 at 03:10 am
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Did I write North American shops? I meant North African shops.

Same thing anyway. Duh.
Jessica / November 25, 2007 at 06:01 am
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Gear up for grub with a tripleheader of pigskin, including a meeting of brothers in Dallas. Everybody knows it's been a rough year for her, but find out who else had issues
Jessica / November 25, 2007 at 06:01 am
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Gear up for grub with a tripleheader of pigskin, including a meeting of brothers in Dallas. Everybody knows it's been a rough year for her, but find out who else had issues
Abby / February 5, 2015 at 01:12 pm
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ik wou net gaan vragen, is dat een e9chte roze poes? Misschien een alioeopbns. Of van een oma die haar poes bij haar truitje wil laten passen.Ik zit al een hele week onder dekentjes. Vandaag had ik er nog eentje extra bijgehaald en nu heb ik er drie :) Eigenlijk kunnen we gewoon beter in bed gaan liggen in plaats van ons bed naar de living te zeulen :)

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