One week in May 2011

The following journal entries highlight Montréal moments I took away from my DesignInquiry experience. They are quirky, idiosyncratic, and representative of the diversity to be found in the city.

At the Grey Nuns Residence…

11:30 am Wednesday (in our meeting room). A great sense of possibility and excitement.

Dropping my new DI button high up on the fire escape. Hearing it go ping ping ping as it bounced on the metal stairs on its way to the ground.

I was happy to find my necklace at the wooden picnic table outside the Grey Nuns.

Photograph by Margo Halverson
Photograph by Margo Halverson
Photograph by Margo Halverson
Photograph by Margo Halverson

Somewhere in Montreal…

Hasidic community. Walked the street on Saturday to find all porches filled with kids, mothers and fathers sitting together. The men wore fur hats and black, asymmetrical coats, while the women wore long gowns. They were beautiful. Maybe they thought we were, too.

9:30 pm Saturday. Two guys on bikes at an intersection ask me in French if I’m deaf.

Noon Sunday. A little girl (approximately 10 years-old) on a terrace in what I think is public housing wearing brilliant red Salwar Kameez (tunic and pants). We smiled and waved at each other.

A man struck up a conversation when I was taking a picture of a billboard. He wanted to know why I was interested in such a mundane thing.

A waitress stopped mid-stride because she saw three of us writing quietly at one table.

Portuguese roasted chicken and fries at lunch, eaten in a sunny park in solitude on St-Laurent after our “food” walking tour.

Going inside the “CN Tower” in Griffintown and seeing the decay and layers of paint and graffiti, and then running into two young men smoking up on the top floor.

Photograph by Christopher Moore
Photograph by Christopher Moore

On the Move…

I spotted someone wearing my husband’s band’s t-shirt on the Metro. (The band was popular 20 years ago.)

BIXI bike dérive from Expo 67 site to the Grey Nuns Residency.

Mick Jagger’s doppelgänger is riding the Metro blue line between Université De Montréal and Édouard Montpetit.

A French-speaking young man in the Côte des Nieges Metro station is wearing a Washington Nationals baseball cap. Is he making a statement?

On the bus. Overheard a woman talking about how much better Ottawa was than Montréal because they have fewer potholes.

Encountered a friend from Calgary who happened to be driving on the street, heading out of Montréal towards Ottawa. Her name is Olga. The meeting was pure coincidence.

Porsche 911 used as contractor’s pickup truck at the Atwater market.

Walking to find a place to view Habitat 67 on Ile St-Hélène.

On Ste-Catherine Street, outside the Guy-Concordia Metro station. The group had splintered into four “packets” of people—each with their own interpretation of “meeting at the Metro.” It was a humorous, nice moment, especially as everyone in the end miraculously converged as the Metro train arrived.

Photograph by Margo Halverson
Photograph by Margo Halverson

Montréal by Design…

At Shwartz’s Deli. An inventive use of the soda can opener as a support for buoyant straws.

Stopped at a public art installation. The artwork consists of 21 swings that make sounds when you use them and together, form an orchestra.

The melancholy stripper: mural on side of Wanda’s Strip Club.

Olympic Park. Standing on the “podium,” a ways away from the odd-looking stadium. Seeing a scattering of DI “Inquirers” taking notes, looking up, looking down. A sense of what “design and inquiry” could mean emerged at that moment. I felt happy, grateful to be exposed to these wonderful people. I took a picture, but it wasn’t really representative.

Image by Karina Cutler-Lake
Image by Karina Cutler-Lake—click to enlarge