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NEIGHBOURHOOD 101: SHERBROOKE STREET WEST. MONTREAL’S GOLDEN MILE

Montreal’s Golden Mile was where the wealthy families of the city once lived about a century ago.  Large mansions, with coach houses for horses and staff, lined stately Sherbrooke Street, from Guy almost to University Street.  Sadly, many of these architectural marvels no longer exist, lost to the inevitable march of progress.  However, today Sherbrooke Street is home to some of the best shopping in Montreal.Couture fashion labels-  Gucci, Hermès, Dior, Escada -  share space with prestigious antique dealers and art galleries, where you can buy a Picasso, work from the Group of Seven, a cutting edge piece sure to grow in value, or works from local artist / photographer Amel Chamandy at her gallery.

STREET PROFILE: RUE ST-DENIS

  We’d already worn our several pairs of virtual walking shoes by the time the Montreal Street Profile series hiked down Bleury, up Parc and across Maisonneuve. But, entertained by the sights, sounds, shops and smells, we hit Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique, Crescent, Greene Avenue and went shopping on Sainte-Catherine. We decided we deserved a good time, so we headed next to Saint-Denis…

STREET PROFILE: SAINTE-CATHERINE

  The list of Montreal Streets that we’ve already profiled has gotten so extensive that I’m going to skip the usual witticisms and just lay out where we’ve been so far: Bleury, Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique, Crescent and Greene Avenue. But, with Christmas and visions of over-stuffed shopping bags dancing around your checking account, we thought it was time to take a trip to Sainte-Catherine… If there’s one street that visitors to Montreal know without consulting our profile series, Sainte-Catherine (or St-Catherine/Ste-Catherine) is probably it. It’s a massive east-west thoroughfare, which starts in Westmount and ends in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and manages to pass through the Concordia ghetto, the Quartier Latin and the Gay Village on its way. Which is clearly too huge an area for us to cover in one post. And it’s not really necessary, because it’s the part of Sainte-Catherine that crosses downtown Montreal that is the big draw…and has been for years.

STREET PROFILE: GREENE AVENUE

The Montreal Street Profiles series, considered by some/me to be the greatest set of blog posts ever written, has been busy. It’s covered Bleury, Parc and Maisonneuve, but then it got tired so it took a quick nap on a nearby park bench. But then it got right back up and strolled down Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique and Crescent. It then decided to head a little west to explore Greene Avenue, in the heart of Westmount… Though Westmount, home to most of Montreal’s wealthiest English residents, extends much further west and up towards the mountain, Greene Avenue is viewed by many as it “Main Street”. Running south from Sherbrooke down to Atwater, in a couple short blocks this upscale avenue, named in 1881 for the landowner G.A. Greene, manages to contain an incredible density of shops, restaurants and what is probably Montreal’s best English bookstore.

STREET PROFILE: CRESCENT

To date, the Montreal Street Profile series has strolled up Bleury and Parc, across Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul and Saint-Zotique. Up next, we take a walk down Crescent, a downtown street I haven’t spent much time on since being an undergrad… When completing my undergraduate degree at Concordia, I spent many afternoon “group study sessions” on this street. Even then I generally avoided the wildness of Crescent Street at night. It’s just not my thing. But, based on how packed it is (despite being the shortest street we’ve profiled), I’m willing to concede that it is clearly many other people’s thing. Writing about a street you haven’t visited in a while is daunting, so thank goodness that my new colleague Patricia Gajo was on hand to hip me to the fact that, while the old faithfuls remain, there have been some new developments on the street named for the shape it was in 1860…

STREET ( SORT OF!) PROFILE: SQUARE VICTORIA

Astute followers of our Montreal Street Profile series may notice that there is something different between today’s instalment and those about Bleury, Parc, Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul and Saint-Zotique. Yes, Square Victoria is not a street but it is surrounded by them and has enough stuff going on that it deserves its moment in the sun…