Turcot Generations

When the city of Montreal decided to build the Turcot interchange, they had to destroy dozens of houses and displace a lot of families that were living in the area. My mother's family lived on De Roberval and York (link) in Cote Saint Paul, before and after the overpass was built. This post will show you how the area looked like before the elevated autoroute was even conceived. You can see in the background of the top two photos and the photos on the left the apartments & houses that were destroyed to make way for the interchange.

The photos on the left are from various periods. They show the houses and apartments and trees that were there before the overpass was built in 1965. The photos on the right are from almost the same vantage point but obviously after the overpass was erected, after 1967. My grandparents' house was just at the edge, on De Roberval. This was fortunate and unfortunate. My grandparents didn't lose their house that they build themselves but they had to adjust their lives from then on and had to deal with an incredibly ugly and noisy eyesore.

Because of age, of bad urban planning (the overpass was designed for traffic with 10s of thousands of vehicles a day, not 100s of thousands), the Turcot interchange is crumbling and is a possible danger to the public who live around it and who travel over it so they're now planning to destroy the overpass and build a new highway that's less of an eyesore (link). The diagram at the bottom shows what areas are going to be affected. The house where the photos were taken are within the De La Verendrye green circle. It's amazing that so many families were displaced and so many old vintage houses were destroyed for something that today (only 46 years later) will be destroyed once more. And like so many other highways or railroads projects in Montreal, this created "dead zones" like the entire St Patrick street area which became isolated from everything. The new highway will not affect the houses on the south side of the overpass, where my grandparents old house is, but many of the buildings and houses north of highway 15 & 20 will be demolished once they finally decide when the reconstruction will begin. Because of the current economic situation, the project has apparently been postponed but they have to eventually deal with the crumbling infrastructure at one point. The whole thing is crazy!

Photos on the left row: my great-grandfather; my grandfather; my mother; my mother when she was a little girl. The photos on the right: my mother in the late 1930s/early 40s; my brothers and sister(I'm in the photo); my grandmother and mookie; my brothers and sister once more. The big photo after that is from Google maps. And the following two photos of the aging overpass were taken in the summer of 2010. You can compare those photos with the ones taken in the 1960s and 1970s, on the right row.

1 comment:

  1. The St-Henri groups (POPIR, Mobilisation-Turcot, CEDA, Village des Tanneries) have all the ducks in a row. At least when it comes to articulating why concerned people are firmly opposed to the province’s plan: turn the Southwest into a spaghetti fight by dropping Turcot on its head.

    With all the noise, the political spectacle in the fed election plus the wire-tap revelations in city hall (not to mention ALL the noisy world news), will it become an uphill fight now to spark interest in Turcot?

    The groups I named have the means to get out the message on what to do to better protect our quality-of-life here in the South-West. But it IS a coalition. Some folks think the FED election trumps all. Some think Mayor Tremblay has ‘gone too far’ by wiretapping the opposition councillors- that he must be recalled. Others see that a Turcot Xchnge wi/out the Champlain Bridge still standing is about to become total urban dystopia.

    It’s my conviction that humourless souls will find it hard to work in the coalition around Turcot. The people who always laugh to keep from crying are the glue to keep the coalition tight.

    Humourless is like the television campaign against cell phones and texting on Blackberries. It’s precisely the chattering class, speeding down the Ville Marie Xpress, texting over all the ‘hot button issues’, who are speeding toward a rear-ender with a garbage truck. Us pedestrians look on as the mess spills over into total traffic gridlock.

    I keep pinching myself. Whether individuals are right or wrong on this or that issue, our collective opposition to the bad plan (building auto-routes that increase dependence on cars) requires of us increased creativity plus vigilance to stay solid and expand the coalition. Compared to Turcot and Champlain, I look at the other stuff saying to myself ‘this too will pass.’