With only one day in Montreal, I set out early from my hostel, heading east on Ste. Catherine Street. It was Sunday, and the street was uncharacteristically empty. I was on the tourist trail today, and headed down to Old Montreal, across its 400 year old cobblestone streets by the St. Lawrence River. Barely pausing for coffee, I looped back up on St. Laurent, thinking I might walk it from end to end. I followed it like a story, this historic boulevard at the heart of the city. But once I passed the Rosemont Viaduct, already footsore, I turned back and circled around through the lively Mile End neighbourhood, down to Parc Mont-Royal where the drummers were, across the park to McGill, and west along Sherbrooke. The sun was already low when I abruptly decided to continue up Cotes-des-Neiges to St. Joseph’s Oratory (one of those interesting sites of miraculous healings), adding a good two hours to my walk.
Montreal is the city where I learned to long-distance wander. When I lived here years ago I was a student and had no money to do anything, so I spent my time walking the streets and neighbourhoods for days on end, exploring, observing, thinking. I learned to love how the city feels, its character, people, architecture, the way I saw art everywhere, as I also learned to love this method of being in the world, on foot and at a human pace. I used to buy the cheapest thin-soled canvas sneakers on St. Laurent, and could feel every stone under my foot. These days I’m grateful to have good shoes, ridiculous-looking, but comfortable for many miles.
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Length: 24 km
Date: 30 September, 2018
Sandra Cowan likes to walk on trails, paths, and city streets. She is based in southern Alberta, Canada, as a visitor in the land of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Nation).