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Metro Roulette: A walk in the Parc

Posted by Hannah / October 16, 2006

collage.jpgThere are many things I learned during my travels in Park Extension, the home to the Parc Metro station:
1 - I know where broken playground toys go to die.
2 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making a comeback.
3 - Greek bakeries sell tasty pastries but no coffee.

Getting off at the Parc metro station leaves no illusions. This is not the Parc Avenue of Rachel, nor the Parc Avenue of Fairmount. This is the end of the line. Everything has been pushed up to its terminus, intermingled and settled in for good. Indian restaurants and Greek bakeries share quiet city blocks with halal markets and African fabric boutiques. You can get a haircut, send an email, buy a return bus ticket to NY and learn to drive without crossing the street.

stairs.jpgThe entrance to the station is housed within the marbled and chandeliered Canadian Pacific Gare Jean-Talon, which was built in the 1920s. A building the metro shares with a massive Loblaws and an SAQ. The rest of the neighbourhood isn't quite as polished or reminiscent of another era, but chaotic, which makes it all that much more refreshing.

First thing I spied on my way out the door was Johnny Brown. I had to go in. It promised all my Halloween needs and more. More! How could I refuse? A werewolf greeted me at the door. werewolf.jpgJohnny Brown has been costuming the city's dancers since 1945. More recently its capitalized on the popularity of medieval-style weddings, Halloween and Christmas, selling and renting costumes for those eager to escape into another reality. In October, shivering mummies and mad scientists howl and screech as you wander the aisles of costumes. Superheroes (Batman, Spiderman, Superman), the Ninja turtles, Austin Powers and Homer Simpson are still tops in the adult costume rentals.

Around the corner, on Jean Talon, Rangdhanu's is overflowing with Indian salvar kameez the colours of tropical fruits and slender glass bracelets that jingle and chime with every move. It's mainly women's clothes here, and they're generally reserved for more fancy occasions, but the boxes and boxes of bracelets the line the store's perimeter are worth rummaging through for a find. Not far from Rangdhanu is the Restaurant Sonam, a Tibetan and Indian restaurant specializing in momos and biryanis. For $5.95 you can walk out stuffed on your choice of curry, rice, daal soup and salad.

Ogilvy, one block north of Jean Talon, is less bustling, but equally as interesting. Dollar Ogilvy advertises cheap fares to New York City by bus (only $70; six departures daily); a neighbouring Greek bakery, Piccadilly (542 Ogilvy Ave.) offers breads and cakes, and chocolate baklava for only $1, and ouzo candies by the kilogram. I tried a “diplota”, which, wrapped in colourful foil, were going fast.
clothesline.jpg It's a cream-filled pastry covered in chocolate - a cake substitute - that is just right on the sweet scale. Unfortunately, Piccadilly doesn't serve coffee, which is what I really needed, because, said the owner, we would drink it all.

Walk northeast along Ogilvy Ave. and you'll hit a three-storey high walkway that hangs above the commuter rail line, and puts you down near Jarry Park and the tennis courts for the Roger's Cup. This is where broken playground toys go to die. Beneath the stairs on the northernmost end of the walkway are plastic yellow swirly slides, green and blue and red, springy beasts for three-year-olds to ride upon, all chucked in the bushes and grass beside the railway tracks. Such a sad demise for such well-loved objects. playground.jpg



J Mac / October 17, 2006 at 09:09 am
Nice post. Love the photos, especially the backyards shot. Was that taken from the walkway?
OJ / October 17, 2006 at 11:13 am
What if the playground toys aren't dead, but just resting? I wonder if there is anyway to salvage them through some sort of 'sting' operation?
Hannah / October 17, 2006 at 12:33 pm
I think a mighty strong fishing rod and some industrial strength cabling would do the trick.
rrrobyn / October 17, 2006 at 01:43 pm
yeah, i really like how you've captured the family/neighbourhood feeling of the area as well as the local bustle.

i think the saq is so gigantic b/c you can't buy booze for the life of you west of parc! (b/c of predominance of muslim population/shops, i think, right? yet some of the indian restaurants, and other restaurants maybe, are bring-your-own, which is nice, b/c beer is awesome with curry.)
Dave / October 17, 2006 at 04:30 pm
Here's the idea. We steal the playground equipment and use it for a themed Halloween party. The theme can be Playground Mishaps/disasters.
Hannah / October 19, 2006 at 12:37 pm
There are piles and piles of this playground equipment strewn beneath the bridge. Waaay more than I captured in this photo. I bet the city would love it if you took it off their hands and built a playground in the lobby or your office, or the women's bathroom, or the elevator. We need more recreation in life, don't we?
Hannah / October 19, 2006 at 12:42 pm
I also feel the need to comment on the Parc avenue bit of this post. According to the city's plan, this street, a five-and-a-half-kilometre stretch from Viger to Ogilvy will become rue Robert Bourassa. Now I understand the sudden investment in the Pine-to-Rachel region of the avenue-formerly-known-as-Parc.
Don't we get a say in this?
Oya / May 29, 2013 at 09:02 am
I feel the need to comment on the halloween store part of the post. I have shopped at johnny brown and the was not not pleased with the quality. I usually shop from more convenient and great stuff
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