Urban Villages

The Urban Villages series for the Montreal Gazette studies the city’s emerging neighbourhoods and finds out why they’re burgeoning.

From “Mile-Ex’s Multiple Personalities”
“It’s hard to get a handle on Mile-Ex. This peculiar 1.5-square-kilometre enclave is both old and new, both industrial and residential, not quite Mile-End or Park-Extension. Even its name is debatable. To many people who have been here longer than five years, it’s still Marconi-Alexandra, so named for two streets that cut through the sector. Those who have lived here longer than 15 years might consider it part of Little Italy. Some even call it WeLIta, for West Little Italy. Mile-Ex is a recent moniker that sits better with newer crowds, or with people who don’t live or work here at all.” Read more

From “Made in Villeray”
“In the interviews I have done for the Urban Villages series, I make a point of asking this one question: Why did you choose this place instead of another place? In Villeray, the top five reasons are: the Jean-Talon market; Jarry Park; five métro stations; reasonably priced rent for well maintained, often large spaces (both commercial and residential); and a pleasant quality of life. The question I’ve tried to answer in every story in the series is: Why is this place emerging? In the case of Villeray, fashion is one of the elements propelling the area forward.” Read more

From “Snowdon Meets You Halfway”
“Though Snowdon’s tranquility might feel like a departure from the bustling city core, there’s still a lot of activity here because of commercial roads like Queen Mary, Décarie and Victoria, from St-Kevin Ave. on. Plus, the types of businesses are assorted; you’ll find grocers big and small, health food stores, many pharmacies, clothing boutiques and loads of restaurants, many of them serving up authentic ethnic flavours.” Read more

From “Hochelaga-Maisonneuve: Friendly with a Small-Town Feel”
“’HoMa,’ as some call it now, is slowly evolving past that image, but it’s not completely transformed. Some of its small businesses look a little worn, which happens when you’ve been around for 20 years or more. Still, they’re meeting a fairly high demand. Local fast-food joints like La Pataterie and cozy diner Gerry’s Delicatessen serve comfort classics like hamburgers, poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, and they’re as popular now as they were when they opened decades ago. A place like Bar Davidson, a dive bar known for inexpensive drinks, has been around since the 1930s. Back then, it was a tavern and wouldn’t serve women. Now it refuses no one. Not the student looking for cheap beer; not the leather-covered biker dude; not the scantily clad lady.” Read more

From “St-Henri: Eccentric, Artsy”
“St-Henri is the Un-Plateau. It’s quiet, it doesn’t have much of a nightlife, it borders the water, it has the Atwater Market. It does have a cachet that is Plateau-like in certain residential areas, but the neighbourhood tends to be more industrial thanks to its old factories, remnants of the many manufacturers once headquartered here.” Read more

From “Old Montreal: Chic & Central”
“Today, Old Montreal couldn’t be more different. There are almost too many restaurants to choose from, new bars and clubs are 5 à 7-ready, and quite a few designer boutiques have set up shop along ‘Gallery Alley,’ St. Paul’s nickname for the many art galleries that once dominated the street. More importantly, the area is attracting more Montrealers than visitors.” Read more

From “The Village: Beyond Partying”
“’There weren’t that many places in the Village where you could enjoy fine dining,’ says Bernard Beauchemin, a consultant for Bistro 1272, which focuses on progressive cuisine. Lallouz kebabery owner Zohar Bardai agrees, adding: ‘People in this neighbourhood … are willing to try new ethnic foods and appreciate it for what it is.’” Read more

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