Friday, October 19, 2012

Lachine Canal Shout-out

As the leaves blow off the trees here in Michigan, the last blush of summer is almost forgotten. So, before it's too late, I want to make sure I mention my wonderful September trip to Montreal to visit my brother.  A recent graduate of McGill, my brother has become a real denizen of the city, and a champion of adaptive reuse. With a small, committed group of artists and musicians, he helps run a venue called The Plant in a warehouse/post-industrial section of town. Weather permitting, he bikes everywhere, and during my visit, he gave me a unique tour of the city.

Hopping on a BIXI bike, I followed him down some impressive hills (even more impressive on the way back up) to LaChine Canal National Historic Site. This site succeeds as a beautiful park, obviously popular with local walkers, runners, and cyclists, but it does more than simply offer unique urban scenery.  At key points along the path criss-crossing the canal, Montreal's industrial history is illuminated and interpreted. This interpretation is enhanced by the activity associated with the park, the fact that you are moving through the landscape. This has the effect of making you especially conscious of change over time. No vista is exactly the same the second time you return to it. But at the same time, you also become conscious of moving in concert with others. You are one time-traveler among many. This is the essence of the best urban historical experiences. I'm looking forward to my next visit, experiencing another season at LaChine during another moment in my life.

No comments: