Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honore-Mercier Bridge

In Montreal's borough of LaSalle sits the northern end of the Honoré Mercier Bridge (or "The Mercier") which is one of three bridges which link the island to the south shore. At the other end is the Mohawk first nation of Kahnawake, who notoriously closed the bridge in 1990 over the Oka Crisis at Kanasetake, and the town of Châteauguay.

On June 14, 2011 the western-most span, opened in 1934 and looks like it hasn't been maintained since, had to be closed due to the erosion of 10 gussetts, the plates which bind the crossbeams together. The plan is to have them replaced by the fall of 2011. In the meantime, traffic has been redirected to the eastern span, which was opened in 1963, with both lanes being used in the primary traffic direction during peak hours and one lane in each direction during off-peak. This has made the area's already bad traffic even worse, even precipitating the addition of six extra AMT commuter trains on the adjacent CP rails to and from Candiac (see below), a line which itself was created due to the 1990 Mohawk standoff.

Photos taken along LaSalle Boulevard in Montreal, Quebec on June 21, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011


AMT Train bound for Vaudreuil

Entrance to the pedestrian bridge to Ile-Perrot

Rue Sainte-Anne

Kelso Park

Pink House on Rue Saint-Pierre

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site
(linking the St. Lawrence River to Lake of Two Mountains)

STM Route 211 bus John Abbott College

The Road To Toronto

AMT Rail Station Stairway

Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pointe-aux-Trembles VIA Station

Being the only person to get off at the most-easterly train station on the island of Montreal meant that I got a puzzled look from pretty much everybody involved in getting me there. "Point-aux-Trembles? Vous ne pouvez pas prendre le metro?" I mean, why would anyone pay $20 for a trip you could take by metro (and bus) for $3? Well, if you want to get a preview of the future AMT (the Montreal regional transit authority) "Train de l'Est" which is currently under construction, this is the best way to do it.

It is the southern end of the line from Montreal to Jonquiere and Senneterre, with cars for both destinations travelling together as far as Hervey Jct., where the train is broken into two to go on the final legs of their journey. In Montreal, the train heads south through Pointe-St-Charles, Verdun and St-Henri, where it makes a turn through the massive CN Taschereau rail yard and heads north and east towards the first stop, Ahuntsic. Service used to be via the Mont-Royal tunnel, with outbound trains being pulled by electric engines as far as the Jonction de l'Est in St-Laurent (inbound trains would merely coast downhill through the mountain). A total reconstruction of the Montreal-Deux-Montagnes commuter line in 1995 made this no longer possible as the electrical current used by the new trains was incompatible with CN's aging fleet of electric locomotives, so the diversion via Taschereau, and its additional half-hour travel time, was now necessary. It is unclear whether the hybrid locomotives which will be used by the AMT for the Train de l'Est will do double-duty for VIA once that line opens, but it appears unlikely.

From Ahuntsic, the line continues east through Montreal-nord, Montreal-est, and Riviere-des-Prairies before arriving at the unmanned, but rather-vandalized Pointe-aux-Trembles Station. Interestingly, when the Train de l'Est opens (currently scheduled for 2012 December 2014), the stop used by the AMT called "Pointe-Aux-Trembles" will not be at this location, but will be at a new station approximately 2km west on Sherbrooke Street.

Montreal-Nord hasn't seen service since 1968, as most users switched to the metro after its opening in 1966. A great essay on the history of electric commuter service to Montreal-Nord (and Ahuntsic) by McGill professor Glenn Cartwright can be found here.

Photos taken near the corner of 64e Avenue and Prince-Albert Street in the borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles-Riviere-des-Prairies, Montreal, Quebec on June 22, 2011.

UPDATE: VIA ceased operations at this stop effective January 3, 2013, leaving Ahuntsic as the only on-island stop for the Jonquiere/Senneterre line, with the Repentigny station at le Gardeur being the closest to P-A-T.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mather Arch

At the southern entrance (/exit) to the Niagara Parkway, adjacent to the glorious Peace Bridge, sits a monument dedicated to peaceful coexistence of the two countries linked by the bridge. Built through the "vision and generosity" of Alonzo C. Mather, an American who made his mark through the construction of steel rail cars, the Mather Park Gate (more commonly known as the Mather Arch) was used upon its completion in 1939 as the access portal to the Niagara Parkway from Highway 3 (now Garrison Road) in Fort Erie.

In 2000, the Niagara Parks Commission restored the landmark to a "renewed state of splendour". The arch no longer serves its original purpose as a gateway, but is still accessible from both Garrison Road and the Niagara Parkway and serves as an impressive location to view the Peace Bridge, Niagara River and Buffalo shoreline.

Photos taken on June 11, 2011 in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

County Fair Mall - Fort Erie

After savaging Fort Erie's downtown, known as Bridgeburg Station, County Fair Mall thrived through the 1970s and 80s as being the single largest shopping destination in town. Zellers, A&P, Radio Shack, Shoppers Drug Mart and even a movie theatre were housed in a an attractive, convenient-to-all-roads location, not too far from the Peace Bridge for those who needed to pick up some Smarties or Red River Cereal before crossing the border.

Alas, the trend toward outdoor plazas and an explosion of growth along the adjacent Garrison Road (old Highway 3) led tenants to leave one-by-one. The movie theatre barely made it to 1985, Radio Shack moved across the street, A&P became Food City, then IGA, then it and Shoppers Drug Mart left for the International Gateway Village plaza about 1km west at Concession Street and Garrison. Giant Tiger briefly occupied the old A&P/Food City/IGA space, but Walmart, which moved into town in the late 90s, took most of the town's discount dollars for itself, leaving Zellers the sole original retail tenant. Recent visits to the store show more staff than customers, with the exception of the pharmacy, which appears to be one of the few attractions for American shoppers.

Whether Target's expansion into Canada will even include this location is a big question (Update: It didn't). Whether this piece of near-dead retail real estate will survive if it doesn't is an even bigger one (Update: It didn't).

Photos taken on June 11, 2011 at Garrison Road and King Street in Fort Erie, Ontario.

December 30, 2012 Update:

Zellers closed, only a shell remains. Practically all vendors have left with only ScotiaBank, the local MP and an insurance broker keeping their lights on. A junk vendor attempts to capture whatever money travels between the main doors and the bank, with little success

July 26, 2014 Update:

It's over. ScotiaBank relocated to the enormous parking lot of the Walmart/NoFrills plaza at Garrison and Thompson Roads, the insurance broker moved to another plaza down the road, the doors are now locked.

Of course, it wasn't always this way. Fortunately, the Fort Erie Public Library is also the town's historical archive. Linked above are numerous photos from the mall's origins in the 70s to it's late 90s heyday.