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The geography of the South Shore has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Over the years, I have learned a few key routes, but have never really been able to fit them together into a cohesive mental map. I felt more like the colonists of old, who dared not stray far from the clearing or veer 'off the path' . This is not a comprehensive look at visits to the South Shore, for such would be impossible to construct. Rather, it concentrates on those areas later (or subsequently!) touched by my cycling.
During our first couple of days in the city in 1969, my parents had the occasion to drive far out along Wilfred Laurier Boulevard in order to check out a trailer park, where we decided not to settle.
During the year I was here with my parents, the route over the Champlain Bridge and then south past St. Lambert to the U.S. Border at Plattsburgh became a well worn-route. My father took us once accross into Vermont, but the route was a mystery to me even then.
With their move to Pike River in 1970, I became familiar with the Eastern Townships Autoroute, as far as the St. Jean Cut-off, and with the highway past St. Jean. We covered this a number of times, and then I returned twice in the Fall after they had left.
When my friends Steven and Loretta arrived in 1971, they first landed at a motel in Brossard. On the second day, I rode out with them on the metro and we took their car out along Taschereau Boulevard, out into the hinterland. I had no real idea where I was. A few days later, I helped Steven drive his car from the metro parking lot over the Jacques Cartier Bridge, to see it die on the way down and come to its final resting spot at a gas station just under the bridge structure. For days we ferried goods from the car via the metro.
My roommate 0f 1972, Reggie, was a kid from the South Shore who had a 175cc motorcyle. While I rode on the back, he took me over the Victoria Bridge, and then off into the hinterland, I knew not where.
Various hitch-hiking trips to Quebec City started with a metro ride to Longeueil, where we would stake our place by the highway near the interchange. I remember one time when Bernie, Donald and I were dressed in suits, yet no one wanted to pick us up. In those days, the metro station was just a small, low building amidst a massive parking lot.
The Hunter's Horn held a golf day out at a course in La Prairie. It was located right near where the main highway from St. Jean intersects the main east/west road (Boulevard Taschereau), where there is still a golf course today.
Donald and I went with Sir George students on a ski-day somewhere on the South Shore. We rented cross-country skis and fumbled our way along the trail, losing our way and ending up at the top of the ski hill. I sat down on my skis to ride down. (Only when I began visiting Mont Ste. Hilaire did I recognize the next mountain, Rougemont, as the likely place where we went.)
I got my driver's licence and then my own car in 1975, but the South Shore was not a direction that I explored much. Drives to Plattsburgh became frequent, however. After our pre-Christmas car accident in 1975, we ended up at the riverfront hospital in St. Jean, the same hospital where my father would be taken in 1991.
Also in 1975, did I work my three-day stint with Claude Neon. On one of those days, we drove over to the South Shore. I knew not where at the time, but would later recognize the small shopping centre near the intersection of Victoria and Taschereau
My first wife's sister moved to Boucherville and so I learned the route over the Jacques Cartier Bridge and along the river to Highway 20 and Boulevard Mortagne. When I developed some slightly better idea of Boucherville geography, I began coming more often through the Lafontaine Tunnel and heading east along the river from there, getting off at the 2nd exit.
During the same period, my friend Donald began going with a girl from Greenfield Park and we began frequent and multiple visits to her house, just off of Victoria. I came to know Victoria quite well, accessing it at first only from Taschereau, via the Champlain Bridge.
Steven and Loretta bought a farm in Scotstown in 1977 and moved there in 1978. During their two years there, I visited at least once a month. I came to know the Eastern Townships Autoroute like the back of my hand.
In the Fall of 1979, my duties at Concordia entailed a visit to Barney Smythe's Cybervox plant in Longeueuil. I went in my car with a full crew from Concordia and Nick directed me down across the Des Seigneurs Bridge, to the Victoria Bridge approach. I began to use that route frequently, and soon learned of its connection to Victoria in Greenfield Park.
We were invited several winters in a row up to Donald's uncle's place in Vermont. The first year we took Donald and Rose up in our Volkswagen and everyone either froze or cooked. Then the Volkswagen got stuck. The next year, we went in the Honda wagon. The trip started with the familiar drive towards Pike River, but Donald's brother-in-law David soon showed us a shortcut. Returning once, behind them, we were shown the old road between St. Jean and La Prairie, coming out at a fruit market and near the corner where the golf course of 'Hunter's Horn' days had been.By the end of the decade, my knowledge of South Shore geography was thus:
In 1980 I started teaching at College Edouard-Montpetit in Longueuil. My first few drives to the college were through the city, until I learned of the 'back door' approach from the freeway along the river. A couple of times I had to take the bus. Montreal city buses still ran in Longueuil in those days. While I lived on St. Urbain, I used to drive down across the Jacques Cartier bridge, but when I moved over to Snowdon, I gave that up for the Champlain Bridge (outbound) and the Victoria Bridge (inbound).
Following my successful Language Lab Conference in 1981, I secured regular employment teaching workhops on computers to teachers at the military base at St. Jean. Already quite familiar with the road to St. Jean, I now began to nibble at the edges of the town of St. Jean as well. I did not explore far, however. (For example, I never found my way to the waterfront, or across the old bridge to Iberville!)
During all my frequent crossings of the Richelieu River, both on the Eastern Townships Autoroute and on the St. Jean spur, I came to notice that there was both a river and a canal below.
My friend Steven and his girlfriend Isabel settled for a time in an apartment house just off Taschereau and east of Victoria. I would make frequent visits over the Champlain Bridge, which still had its tolls. I remember on one occasion driving with Tannissa in the baby seat, missing my toss, and yelling 'Oh Shit!'. Tannissa proceeded to repeat this mantra over and over, with different intonations, for the rest of the day. I still have no real feel for how Taschereau 'angled' towards the river. I did not sense, for example, that through the interior maze of suburban streets, Victoria was only a few blocks behind Steven's place. I only learned this much later, when I came out to Taschereau that way by accident.
My parents visited in 1986 and, after a stint at the KOA out in Les Coteaux, they moved inot an urban Trailer Court in Brossard, just south of the interection of Taschereau and Victoria. It was the first time I had ever ventured even a block 'off the path'
We drove out to an air show at the St. Hubert airfield. I know I must have driven out Route 116 to get there. I probably came over the Jacques Cartier Bridge and followed Taschereau. The whole area was somewhat of a mystery to me.
Donald moved to Greenfield Park, to a house not far from his mother-in-law, and I helped him move out there. Then we made one more visit before he broke up with Rose.
Out on a drive, I must have explored the road along the river from where the freeway to New York turns south. Somehow I found my way to the Ste. Catherine Locks. Across the small bridge, the main road led to a campground. A small, gravel way led down the embankment from the lock area to wend right alongside the river. This became a favourite haunt for afternoon outings with me and Tannissa. Many people frequented this area. I would drive in along the gravel way, both in the Honda and in the Van, until the road became too torn up to go any further.
|The Gravel Road below the Locks|
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|The Campground Above the Locks|
|[See Larger Context]|
My first wife's sister, Christine, ended up a hospital in Greenfield Park in 1990. The hospital was located off Taschereau Boulevard, just before it rose to become an elevated freeway as it crossed into Longeueil. We visited several times, and I got a better look at the lay of the land. I may have pioneered cutting through Ville LeMoyne, to make the Victoria Bridge.
Isabel invited us out to her parent's house for a big dinner. It was off in the wildeness of Brossard, south of the Taschereau/Victoria intersection, and beyond where my parents had put their trailer. I think the trailer court was gone. I could not find this spot again, as the whole area still remains uncharted in my mind.
My bicycle ride to Mont St. Bruno led directly to my subsequent exploration of Mont. Ste. Hilaire by car and hiking. Within a few days of finished the bike ride, I picked up the kids from their day camp near Decarie and we drove out there. (I was on my own by this time). I found my way to Route 116 along exactly the same route I had ridden. We arrived too late to go into the park that day, but we returned soon afterwards for our first bonafide hike. Drives out to Mont Ste. Hilaire became quite frequent for the next few years, both for hiking at the mountain and later for family apple picking. On one return trip, I stopped with the kids and we ate spaghetti at a fancy restaurant along the way. Eventually, I cease using the Route 116 approach, as it was too often blocked by traffic. I pioneered and found the 'back door' approach, via the Hwy 10 Autoroute.
Involvement with St. Ansgar's and the joint congregation at Good Shepherd have brought me over to the South Shore many times, mostly along Victoria and just east, into Greenfield Park. My wife's meditation group acquaintance, Andrea, lives in Greenfield Park, and we have been there many many times. When I taught a course at Bishop's University, my knowledge of the Hwy 10 Autoroute was refreshed by driving it every weekend. For a while, we frequented the big shopping centres just west of the Autoroute on Taschereau, where there was the first big Reno-Depot that we came to know. (And we bought our sheets nearby.). I took my son out there one day to attend the 'Via Rail Christmas Party'. One evening, we drove out there to have coffee with my Aunt Jean, who was staying in a motel with a tour group. Now that Hwy 30 is completed between Hwys 10 and 20, I often follow that route rather than going along the river.
My visit to the Récréoparc during my 1998 ride led directly to a number of subsequent visits, first with Alex and then with Sheryl. One day Sheryl and I brought out bicycles over by car and we spend the day just riding around the various paths, including a foray one mile along the Seaway Causeway.
In general, though, and two decades later, my knowledge of South Shore geography has not expanded much beyond what is written above.
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