Archive for September, 2006

Overpass collapse in Laval

Around lunch time this afternoon, an overpass on Concorde in Laval collapsed onto the highway below. So far at least six people have been reported injured. Worse still, at least two people are feared to be dead; two cars were trapped below the concrete. Depending on whether each car had only one person inside or more, there could be even more deaths as a result.

There is currently a rescue operation going on to remove the concrete as quickly but as carefully as possible just in case someone beneath it is still alive, but morale is low. With the weight of the concrete it’s not very hopeful.

I don’t live that far from the area and it made my heart skip a beat to think that at that hour on a Saturday afternoon, my family could have been driving in that very location.

Market Day

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Every once in a while, I like to head over to the Jean-Talon Market to buy fresh produce. On this beautiful sunny Fall day, the marketplace was full of shoppers with grocery carts and shopping bags in tow. It’s now apple harvesting time so of course, apples of all varieties were in abundance. Many merchants put out plates of sliced fruit or vegetables to taste before buying. I tried some lip-smacking sweet nectarines and pears today. It’s also interesting to visit the surrounding shops that line the perimeter of the market. The aroma of the different foods is very enticing. Bison burgers, fish and chips, sausages… The colorful displays of vegetables and the flower stalls are a sight to behold. Shopping at the Jean Talon Market is one of those Montreal things that is so simple yet so defines the community spirit of the city.

Looking for that perfect Autumn day

autumn.jpgFall is by far my favorite season but, for this photographer, a perfect day requires three elements. (1) The foliage has to be at its absolute peak, (2) the sky needs to be crisp and blue with little or no wind, and (3) I need to have the day off.

2004 had several of these perfect days but 2005 was a complete washout. Today was close, except that Ile Bizard is still a week or two from peak colors. I’ll check out the Bois de Liesse later today but it’s probably too early as well.

I am determined to make 2006 a banner year for Fall photography and I am perfectly willing to forgo #3 and take a day off if the conditions are right. Unfortunately I can’t be everywhere at once and different areas will peak at different times. If you visit a hiking trail or nature park within an hour of the city and notice that the conditions are as perfect as they’ll ever be please leave me a comment. I’m especially partial to red and orange. To make it worth your while, I’ll send anyone whose suggestion leads me to photographic nirvana a print of my best shot of the day.

Leaving Hochelaga

I’m moving to a new neighborhood this weekend. For six years I’ve called this little slice of Ste-Catherine street home, and now we’re moving up to the other side of Sherbrooke. I’ve seen a lot of changes in this once gritty, crime riddled neighborhood. A changing demographic hints at gentrification, as does the parting of prostitutes that used to be a daily “bonjour” for me. (Hey they’re people too, just trying to get through the day like all of us.) No, they are gone now, and in their place we see construction sites erecting condo after condo. The area east of Pie IX has really taken off suggesting that Hochelaga will indeed become the next plateau.

But there’s one thing I’ll never miss. Lallemand. In case you weren’t aware, they make yeast and they have a factory in the area (Moreau and La Fontaine) that creates the most horrific odors. Gag inducing odors. Our first place was a block from the stink factory and we lasted a year there, driven out by the extreme intensity of the smell on hot summer days. Still, even after moving 10 blocks away, if the wind blows just right, the smell will invade the neighborhood.

Saying goodbye to this warm yet quirky neighborhood is tough. I’m going to miss the run down markets and funky shops on Ontario st. Now I’ll be shopping at that giant Loblaws on Rachel and truth be told, I feel a little guilty. To sum it up, this move is bittersweet.

Death on Sources Boulevard

Our youngest daughter was at a birthday party and had decided to spend the night. After dinner, Christiane and I drove down to Dorval with her sleeping bag and a change of clothes. We were on Sources, next to the airport fence, when the cars ahead started swerving in all directions and then stopped. I felt my wife grab my arm.

Andre arrete, y’a un corps sur la route! (Andre stop, there’s a body on the street).

I grabbed my cell, got out of the car and started dialing 911. One car ahead of us was a pair of sandals, a bicycle, a messenger bag and a couple of broken plastic jugs that seemed to contain some kind of moonshine. We’ll never forget that smell nor will I forget the anguished cries of one of the drivers.

A few meters back, a man in his mid-fifties was lying face down and unconscious. There wasn’t much blood but the shape of his body seemed odd. I still remember some of my first aid training from 20 years ago but my help was not needed. Two men were already turning him over.

“Guys I’m not sure this is a good idea” I said.

“It’s ok we’re first responders and I can’t feel his pulse”. I later learned that both were wilderness guides and it was obvious by the way they turned him that these two knew what they were doing. Thus reassured, I concentrated on keeping the 911 operator fully informed.

The victim’s breathing and heart rate were very faint and I could tell from his skin tone and the tire marks over his chest that he was probably suffering from massive internal bleeding. A few minutes later, one of the guys got in position to perform CPR but one look from his companion made us understand that it was probably hopeless.

I had previously told the 911 operator to inform the paramedics that the southbound lanes were completely blocked. We saw the ambulance coming up on the northbound lane but, unfortunately, they didn’t see us waving like crazy and had to turn around and fight their way through the congested street. Others had already taken over traffic management and the rest of us soon joined in. Screaming at rubberneckers certainly helped calm our nerves.

When the paramedics finally arrived they cut open the victim’s shirt and installed a heart monitor. Flatline. There were no heroic attempts at resuscitation.

During the next hour, I learned that the victim was riding on the left side of the road when he was hit by the first car in our group and thrown under a second vehicle. I noticed that his bike did not have a rear reflector, that he was wearing dark clothes and was not wearing a helmet. Whether he had sampled any of that moonshine will have to wait the results of the blood tests.

Such a waste.

Just in case you’re wondering, no I did not have my camera with me at the time. Actually I’m pretty sure that I would not have used it if I had.

Blackout in a metro station

blackout in a subway station

This morning, I was waiting at Saint-Michel metro station, suddenly there was a total blackout of the station from top to bottom. No light in sight. This photo was shot with my Nokia 6682, only a few seconds after everything was dark for a brief period. These are the few lights that remained on for a while. I can’t say how long. Since I was late, I left right away to take another way to my destination.

A blackout like this is not an everyday occurrence, but the place doesn’t look bad with these few lights on. The place where the stairs are didn’t look bad either.

A New Guy

Guillaume Latendresse is now a ‘real’ Hab. It was announced this morning.

I’ve been following this story rather closely and yet watching it from afar. Latendresse is a 19 yr old who’s made two attempts at making the Habs. This year, he pulled it off.

He’s already a fan favorite, mostly because he’s a French Quebecker. Quebeckers, more then most other province, love their own..

Listening to radio talk shows and of course 110%, I’ve noticed a troubling trend regarding talk of he Habs and Latendresse. There is this idea that what the Habs need are more Quebeckers on the team. That Quebeckers play harder for the Habs because they grew up watching the Habs.

The logic that is used, is something akin to the logic Don Cherry might use. Yes, Don Cherry, that very commentator French Quebecers detest (and justifiably so I might add). The argument that Quebec players play harder for their team works under the assumption that they play harder then a Russian, or a Swede.. It’s xenophobic without being obviously so.

The logic is even more flawed from a sports reason when I mention two names: Brisebois, Damphousse and some might even argue Ribeiro. You’d be hard pressed to argue that those native Quebec players always played full out for the Habs.

I can understand wanting the local boy to do good. Hell, I wanted Latendresse to make the team and I am happy he did. But to suggest what the team needs are more Quebeckers because they play harder for Les Canadiens say, then instead of a Russian, is entering into troubling territory.

Rain, rain, go away!

I apologize in advance to people who don’t particularly care about weather talk. It’s a bit of a stereotype that Canadians talk about weather all the time (but we have so MUCH weather to discuss!), but I’m notorious for it. I can’t help it, sometimes I wish I had studied it in school and made it my career. I’ve been known to actually watch The Weather Network at great length just because I enjoy it that much. So really, getting occasional weather-related posts from me isn’t a huge shock.

So the weather. It sucks. I am a big fan of the Fall season. It’s my favorite. I love the cooler, crisp, but not yet cold temperatures. I love the changing leaves, the crunch of the fallen leaves, the thick sweaters and the scarves, and I love being able to cook meals that don’t work well in the summer. The past week and a half has seen my kitchen filled with chili, casseroles, stews. I’m trying very hard to keep from getting out all my Autumn and Halloween decorations until the 1st of October but it’s hard.

But this RAIN is killing me. I can’t go out and enjoy the lack of humidity when it’s pouring rain. Rain is more tolerable in the Spring when you know it’s helping things grow, but in this season it just makes everything feel cold and damp and miserable. Please knock off the rain and let me have my last hurrah outside with my kids before the winter hits!

Stumpy

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I’ve been walking past this strange little stump of a pole for months. City crews ripped open this patch of sidewalk during the summer and when they paved it over, they left behind this metal stump with a piece of copper wire around it. Whatever it’s purpose, they seem to have forgotten about it. Autumn is already here and still no sign of anything happening with this stump. It just so happens to be located at a bus stop so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has already tripped over it in the dark. Every time I see it, I think to myself, what the !@#*?

POP Montreal

Your ears will thank you if you head over to enjoy some of the fine acts being featured at this year’s POP Montreal festival.

Running from October 4th – 8th, you can check out local, national and international tunesters such as: Gonzales, Sloan, Dog Day, Les Breastfeeders, Akufen, Vitamins for You, Islands, A Trak, Tapes n Tapes, Bionic, Dr Octagon and many many more…

If you want to check out some of the bands before going to the shows, their website allows you to listen to songs from the various artists and you can tune into the POPcast for more musical treats…

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