December 30, 2011, Montreal: This is Westmount, technically its own city on the island of Montreal. According to my criteria, it’s a great place to live: It is walkable, it is lovable, it is cultural, it is social, and it is just a couple minutes walk from the heart of downtown Montreal. In 2002, Westmount was forced to become part of the city of Montreal. In 2004, Westmount and 14 other nearby areas voted to “demerge”, officially regaining independence again in 2006. Since then, changes in the island’s tax structure have kept this area intricately tied to the city of Montreal despite its official status as a separate place. Maybe this is where I got my independent streak.
This is my first apartment building, the one my parents lived in when I was born. What a location. Directly across the street is the elementary school and Westmount Park, as well as a public pool, a tennis court, an indoor skating rink, and a library. Around the corner, gorgeous stone rowhomes line streets like Metcalfe. Up the hill, enormous houses of Upper Westmount overlook the city.
It’s still, strikingly, a great neighborhood in which to raise a family. It’s safe, simple, and in our case certainly evokes a sense of nostalgia. And yet it’s right here neighboring the city of Montreal, the largest French-speaking city outside of France. Westmount is an English enclave and yet one in which French and English-speaking children mix languages on the playground. It’s a place where my family made fast friends with others in the neighborhood, where there was a strong sense of community. It’s a place that set a high bar for the many hometowns that would follow.
The school across the street (look familiar?)
The view of our old street from Westmount Park, December 2011
Westmount Library, December 2011
De Maisonneuve and Melville, the corner nearest to home
Rowhomes of Westmount, December 2011
Upper Westmount, December 2011
The view of Upper Westmount from Greene Ave., December 2011