My dad lived in Montreal when he was in his 20s and early 30s. It’s a good place to be young, living close to the bone, people say. I think it’s just a good place to live, to be.
(My mother hates it. I think it’s the driving. I like the fact that the drivers in Montreal know what they’re doing, even if it’s illegal.)
Andrew & I talk a lot about moving cities for a year or two. We said Toronto, Vancouver, somewhere more exotic. But, every time we go to Montreal, we come back and say for a week, or two or three, that we should move to Montreal.
When we moved into our new neighbourhood, we thought we would be closer to good street culture, a more walkable neighbourhood, more diverse retail, a different community than where we were. And it is different. Just…not how we expected. Transit access is ho-hum, worse than it was. It’s at least a ten-minute walk to any neighbourhood with good retail, and the closest neighbourhood was devastated by a fire that took away a good chunk of its street life. The Byward Market is lovely, and it’s close enough, but the problem is that the city stops after the sun goes down. Whereas in Montreal, shops downtown are open until 9 or 10 at night, just about everything in Ottawa shuts down at 6. There’s a lovely little spot in Hintonburg that is booked solid with reservations, and yet nothing much around it is open past 7. Same goes for the Byward Market. It’s rather tragic – people say that Ottawans won’t go out late, but part of the reason for that is that there’s nothing to do. It’s cyclical.
In Montreal, shops close at 6, but the jazz clubs and museums and art galleries are open later. There is so much to do, and so the streets are full of people. By converse, when the mercury hit the high 20s this week, it brought Ottawans out into the streets to enjoy the nice weather, but with naught to do. OpenFile asked its readers whether the lack of people is to blame for the lack of things to do in Ottawa’s urban areas, or if it’s vice versa. It’s neither, I believe. It’s cyclical.
In Toronto (where I was yesterday), there is such a critical mass of people living in a relatively densely populated space that it requires things to do. I suspect that the same is true of Montreal and Vancouver.
But, why not of Ottawa? What is preventing us from that?