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Metro Roulette: Sussin' out Snowdon

Posted by Jer / May 26, 2008

To be honest, I've never thought much of the Snowdon metro station. I mean that in two ways. I've never spent much time thinking about the station, since I'm usually just passing through, hopping from blue to orange line. And I've never particularly liked the station. It's a purely functional station but it's not even good at what it does: the layout makes transferring lines about as confusing as listening to Pascal the morning weather guy on CBC. The orange train going north is on one floor, the orange train going south is on another. The two blue lines are a floor apart too. Confused? Yeah, so am I.

20080526platform.jpgApparently, the station was designed as an "anti-directional cross platform interchange". With a name like that, it's no wonder I've gotten turned around in that station more times than I care to remember. The design scheme was supposed to make for an efficient and quick transfer, but it was never properly implemented and the result is a relatively inconvenient layout.

I should be happy that Midnight Poutine sent me to review Snowdon. Transfer stations and terminal points are holy grails for Metro Roulette writers. Snowdon has the distinction of being one of only four transfer stations on the Montreal Metro System. It's the western end of the blue line and, when it was inaugurated in 1981, it was also an orange line terminus (making it the only Montreal metro station to have been a terminus on two lines).

But snowdon also has the distinction of being one of the most drab stations around. Riding to and from Snowdon, riders pass flashes of blue, orange, red and yellow in stations like Villa Maria, Vendome and U de M. In contrast, when you arrive at Snowdon, you're met with a stunningly boring palette of redish-brown bricks. It's as if the designer, Jean-Louis Beaulieu, knew you would only go there to get somewhere else. Maybe that's why the stairs are the only really visually exciting part of the station.

Speaking of stairs, the escalators that lead up to ground level are lit by two wonderfully bizarre and massive U.F.O.-inspired chandeliers. A few of the bulbs need replacing but the giant fixtures are the one feature that make this station worth your $2.75. If you look straight up the middle of them, you'd swear you were about to be beamed up.

Heading from the underworld to the outerworld, Snowdon station opens onto the bustling Rue Queen Mary. Local cafés and franchise restaurants dot the broad street. There's even a games and comics shop that serves neighbourhood nerds. You'd hardly know you were steps from autoroute Décarie, unless of course you walk a few steps west and cross over said autoroute.

The blocks around the station, part of the diverse and eclectic Côte-des- Neiges–Notre-Dame -de-Grâce borough, are filled with tree-lined streets and cute houses. There are plenty of local schools and L'Oratoire Saint-Joseph is visible over the tree tops.

Queen Mary offers several tasty- looking places to eat but, being full from lunch and not wanting to spoil dinner, I wasn't in the mood for food. I hadn't realized the busy street had so much to offer, though I couldn't help but feel Queen Mary was trying a little too hard to mimic it's southern rival, Monkland.

I headed back to Snowdon station, happy to have seen the area and excited to escalate underneath the extra-terrestrial lights. Then I remembered I still had to figure out what damn floor I needed to be on to get home. Beam me up, Snowdon.


Metro Roulette is an on-going series where intrepid Midnight Poutiners trek from one end of the metro system to the other to bring you the tales of a metro station and its surrounding area.



Jenny / May 27, 2008 at 12:08 am
Jeremy. I can't believe you've reviewed Snowdon without mentioning the homeless black dude who gets less and less coherent every year but still manages to ask you for fifty cents every time.

Also, you should've mentioned that it's a favourite hangout for local druggies and sketchy people overall. There was a stabbing there almost 3 years ago; someone died. And people are continuously getting harassed in there.

I lived close to Snowdon for many years but just like you, I still think the layout of that station is stupid.

Food for thought: how is it that the Cote-Ste-Catherine station is so much safer but the neighbourhood so much shittier in comparison to Snowdon?!??
Anonymous Coward / May 27, 2008 at 11:40 am
Aww that crazy black homeless guy.. I stopped giving change the day i saw him open up a pack of smokes and throwing the pennies someone gave him onto the ground.

I couldn`t agree more on the drabness of the station. The bright neon lights always make me feel like i`m in some bad movie. The dark brown bricks remind me of some old jail.

I love the neighborhood but i hate the station!

On a bright note at least we normally have some quality buskers (for the most part)

Jer / May 27, 2008 at 11:52 am
I guess that's the trick with sending writers just once to a station. It doesn't really do justice to the local staples, the rituals and overall picture. No one harassed me for change, no one tried to stab me or sell me drugs.

I should mention that there was a busker there on the way back into the station. It wasn't mind-blowing, but the sound gave a bit of life to the drab decor.

Thanks for both of your comments.
Twoemms / May 27, 2008 at 06:08 pm
Snowdon is the Belgium of Montreal. It's small, mixed up, really just crossroads to other bigger, better places, and people only vaguely know where it is.
j / August 2, 2008 at 12:29 pm
Pascal weather on daybreak (CBC show) is nuts.
Sabine / July 4, 2009 at 12:52 am
the buskers!
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Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?
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