Bike Ride to Repentigny
L'Assomption & Terrebonne:
Part I: East-End Revisited 2003


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2004


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Bike Ride to Repentigny, L'Assomption & Terrebonne

Part I: The East End Re-Visited: Pied-du-Courant to Longue Pointe
Saturday, June 7, 2003


Foreword

It had been four years since I had ridden out to the East End and Bout de l'Ile, so I felt the desire to have a fresh look. My plan was to head further east. A few years earlier, on a Sunday drive, we had driven through the town of l'Epiphanie, and I had been surprised at what a large city it was. Somehow in my mind, over time, I got l'Assomption confused with l'Epiphanie. My goal for the day, then, was to ride up the l'Assomption River as far as the town of L'Assomption. This would be the discovery portion of my ride. I was then going to return via the North Shore, crossing into Laval at Terrebonne and cutting across to St. Martin and Pont Viau, to return home.

As it would turn out, I took much longer on my ride out to the East End than I had expected, for there were many changes and many new things to see. It was fairly late in the day by the time I was riding towards Terrebonne. Then, the bridge being out cut off my shortcut route. As I was heading towards the next bridge at Bois-des-Filion, and facing at least two more hours of cycling, my strength gave out. I called Sheryl and asked her to come and pick me up in Bois-des-Filion. When I got there, I was surprised to run into Lelana and her family, who kept me company until Sheryl arrived.

My Specific East-End Goal was to fill in some of the gaps in the photo record I had made in during my 1999 ride. In doing the research behind my write-up of that ride, I had learned much about the area that I did not know when I had made the ride. Armed with this knowledge, I knew better what to look for. I was not expecting, though, for some of the wholesale changes I would find.

The account below is based on the original notes [View Here], made right afterwards

Getting Started

I got up early on the hazy, overcast Saturday that I had set aside for an all-day bike ride. Somehow the time go away from me. Alex was away for the weekend, so there was only Sheryl and myself. By the time we had finished breakfast out on the terrace and I was all packed up and ready to go, it had become 09:00.

I set out on my usual route towards work, along the DeMaisonneuve Bike Trail. At the Decarie intersection, I had to choose whether I would descend the hill to take the Lachine Bike Trail to the Old Port, or whether I could continue straight. Since I was running late, I decided to continue straight ahead. Crossing downtown on the busy, six-laned Réné Levesque Boulevard was not pleasant for cyclists, but it was fast. I got to the Jacques-Cartier bridge and the true beginning of my ride at 10:00. By that time, the cool of the morning had evaporated and I was able to take off my jacket.

Pied du Courant

The area south of Réné-Levesque and west of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is a no-man's land of vacant lots and parking lots. It has been like this since the Seventies, when most of the original neighbourhood was razed for projects like the Radio Canada Complex and the Ville-Marie Expressway.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 Sorel Ride)
Notre Dame & Réné Levesque West from Bridge

 

I stopped to document some of the interesting views & structures which I felt would soon vanish or change forever:

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 Sorel Ride/2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Molson Brewery

 

All alone, nestled between two busy thoroughfares, is this intriguing old, stone building. I have learned it is called the "Craig Street Pumping Station".

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Craig Street Pumping Station

 

There remain a couple of lost, isolated streets. They run only a single block, between Réné Levesque and Notre Dame and they hide houses from a much earlier period of Montreal's history:

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Old House in East End

 

Click to enlarge (from Ville de Montreal Web Site)
Pied du Courant-1
View Original in PDF
 

I rode back out of the little two-square block enclave of yesteryear and rejoined the bike path along Réné-Levesque. This brought me to the 'big blue clearing' underneath the bridge, where massive crosswalks for the bikes are painted in blue, to take use across busy De Lorimier, from the SW to the NE corner. There resumes the marked bike path alongside the short street leading eastward from Notre Dame to carry traffic to Réné Levesque. On my left was a vast vacant lot, the former location of a major building that they must have taken down since my previous, 1999, ride.

Ahead of me was Parc Bellerive, where Sheryl and I have come several times to watch the fireworks from La Ronde. The tiny park is a small green island, almost completely cut off by the heavy traffic of Notre Dame.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Parc Bellerive at Notre Dame East
Where Sheryl and I have watched the fireworks, sometimes coming parking the car in Old Montreal and riding over by bike.

 

Just beyond the park are the infamous Molasses storage tanks built in the 1950s, followed by the massive props warehouse which offers such a thrill to passers by.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Molasses Tanks & Movie Props

 

Hochelaga

Past the park, the Notre Dame Bike Trail leads up over the railway trench, following it own pedestrian bridge which was built in the early 1990s (formerly it was shunted along the sidewalk of the Notre Dame bridge.) On the far side, the trail follows its own right-of-way next to the remaining houses, and sheltered from the highway by an earthen wall and trees.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Approaching Bike Bridge on Notre Dame Bikepath East along Notre Dame Bikepath:
Scene Soon to Change

 

Click to enlarge (from Ville de Montreal Web Site)
Pied du Courant/Hochelaga
View Original in PDF
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1999 Ride)
1999 Views
Bike trail along Notre Dame in Hochelaga
sheltered by wall
Notre Dame - Looking East
on the other side of wall
 

Click to enlarge ((from Ville de Montreal Web Site))
Hochelaga
View Original in PDF
 

I rode past Dézéry Square, past the house where my friend Loretta lived during the late 1980s and early 1990s. I used to ride out here often in those days. I watched with anticipation, at the time, the building of the bicycle bridge over the tracks and the slow grooming of the park along the Bike Trail. There were no trees, for example, in the early days. I thought of nearby Loretta as I rode past here in the early morning rain of 1990, on my way to Quebec City.

Maisonneuve

After I crossed rue Bourbonière, the street onto which my wife turns to go to work, the trail bore away from Notre Dame, around behind the historic old powerhouse of the Lantic Sugar Complex, complete with its distinctive square, brick smoke stack. Only at the next block, at Pie IX, does the Trail return to Notre Dame.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End)
Historic Factory at Rue Bourbonière

 

East of Pie IX, the Bike Trail resumed its sheltered path, hidden from Notre Dame by the low earthen wall and by the trees.

Click to enlarge
((from Ville de Montreal Web Site))
Maisonneuve
View Original in PDF
 

Along the way, a block past Pie IX, and across from the historic Maisonneuve Police Station which caught my attention in 1999, the Trail dipped down through the block long, shady and green "Parc Morgan".

At 10:25, I came out near where Ste. Catherine Street finally ends and curves over to join Notre Dame, just before the railway overpass. I was just across from the Canadian Vicker's Pier, where aerial clippers were built in the age before the Second World War. On previous visits, all view of the docks was cut off by the warehouses along Notre Dame, but these had all now been demolished. I had written of my 1999 passage:

Immediately past the underpass, [while] the scenery on the right instantly changed from factories to established residential streets, ... The left-hand side of Notre Dame remained a factory blight, the forgotten backside of the Port of Montreal.

All that was left was a vast vacant lot, and I was able to approach right up to the fence. There was a mountain of earth upon which I was able to climb, to get an even better view. I watched a long port train trundle along the tracks. I would end up exploring the area until 10:40.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Approaching Rail Overpass on Notre Dame East

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Burned out nightclub at Canadian Vickers Docks

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
At Canadian Vickers Docks - Looking West - Train

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
At Canadian Vickers Docks - Looking East

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Canadian Vickers Docks

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
East towards Rail Overpass

 

Mercier (Longue Pointe)

Emerging from the tight, narrow railway underpass, the Bike Trail is reduced to a painted lane running along the north-side sidewalk of Notre Dame. To my immediate left, hidden behind a newly grown forest of green, was an old and vast industrial complex, which I took a detour to explore. On the south side of the street was a LaFleur's drive in, nestled in amongst the storage tanks.

Click to enlarge
((from Ville de Montreal Web Site))
Mercier-4
View Original in PDF
 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Path East of Rail Overpass Looking Back from the Corner of Dickson

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Canadian Steel Founderies

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Restuarant LaFleur

 

At Dickson, on whose northeast corner sits the massive Camco industrial complex, the Bike Trail is shunted over from the north to the south sidewalk of Notre Dame, where it runs the rest of the way to the Lafontaine Tunnel. In previous years, much of the south side scenery consisted of huge oil tanks, but many of these have now been taken down, leaving vacant lots. When I passed Bossuet Street, I saw for the first time a pedestrian overpass leading over the port's railway tracks, so I rode in to climb up for some photoes. I stopped from 10:50 to 10:55

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Footbridge over tracks

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Tracks Looking West Tracks Looking East

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
View back towards Northwest
Note the traces of the two large storage tanks shown in the aerial photo above

 

As I continued along the sidewalk, cum Bike Path, I passed a residential section that ran several blocks along on the north side of Notre Dame. This, then, gave way to what was once the Canadian Munitions Factory, followed by the huge Longue Pointe Military Supply Base. Across from the base on my side was the training facility of the Montreal Fire Department, occupying the location where once had stood the Dominion Amusement Park.

Click to enlarge (from Ville de Montreal Web Site)
Mercier (Longue Pointe)
View Original in PDF
 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 1999 Ride)
CFB at Longue Pointe (1999 View)

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Station 26: 1913

By 11:10 I had reached the corner of Caty & Notre-Dame, just west of the Lafontaine Tunnel and the massive CAST Container Terminal. When I had last passed by in 1999, I had stopped to take photos of the historic police station #26, built in 1913 and located at this corner, but I had not thought to take a picture down the street. At that time, there were two, isolated residential streets nestled in amongst the industrial complexes of the port. Much to my surprise, when I next passed by by car, I saw that all the houses had been torn down! Only the police station remained. I had meant for several years to return. I ended up spending until 11:20 exploring what was left of these two streets.


Click to Enlarge (Taken on 1999 Bout Ile Ride)
Station 26 & Rue Caty (1999)
Homes on these two street survived demolition when the Lafontaine Tunnel was built right next door, only to fall victim to the wrecker's ball just after 1999

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Street of Rue Caty Looking Back on Police Station at Corner of Caty & Notre Dame

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken on 2003 East End/L'Assomption Ride)
Looking Along Rue Bruneau Rue Bruneau

 

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
March, 2004; lite-version: January, 2005