I come from Pierrefonds, a long, multicultural former city (now the borough of Pierrefonds Roxboro), which is so boring that two of its logo’s three elements come from the fact that it’s long and narrow and that it’s next to a river. (The third is borrowed from Pierrefonds, France, the town it was named after.)
But as boring as it is, there are thousands of people who live there, and the population is increasing rapidly. I just noticed this week, for example, that service on the 68 Pierrefonds bus route has been doubled from two buses an hour to four during the day.
So why is it this city, along with its northern West Island neighbours Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Roxboro, Sainte-Geneviève, Ile Bizard and Kirkland, always get treated like they don’t exist when it comes to the anglophone media talking about the West Island?
Case in point: The Gazette’s West Island section this week asks people to vote for its top icons of our little stretch of land. The choices (10, and you can’t add any of your own) don’t include a single landmark in any of these towns. Three are in Pointe-Claire, two in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, two span the southern towns, and one isn’t even on the island at all.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport: This is the great barrier (along with the Taschereau train yard) separating Montreal from the West Island, and it’s located in a West Island city, but I still don’t really think of it as part of the West Island. It’s more a part of the city as a whole. The people who go there come from all over the city, and there’s nothing about it that captures the identity of the place.
Fairview Shopping Centre: Certainly a must-have on any such list. It’s a big mall, and the bus terminal brings a lot of teenage traffic here along with commuters. But making this the West Island’s greatest icon would be a sad statement about life there, no?
Hudson Village & ferry: I fail to see how Hudson can be considered part of the West Island. It’s not on the island. It’s not that complicated. A case can be made for Ile Bizard because it’s part of the city. Hudson most definitely is not.
211 bus: Certainly the West Island’s most important bus, and the second public transit related item on the list. Perhaps that’s what exemplifies the area: an express bus to downtown.
John Abbott College/MacDonald Campus & Weather Station: I’m assuming this includes the Morgan Arboretum, which is a very noble candidate. Nothing bad to say here.
Old Pointe Claire: Narrow roads, cute little shops and insufficient parking. OK.
Lachine Canal/Lakeshore Rd.: Lachine is barely West Island, and the canal ends just as Lachine starts. The canal is more an icon of the southwest borough or LaSalle. Lakeshore, meanwhile, is a good candidate, but shouldn’t that be grouped together with the 211?
Ste-Anne de Bellevue Village & locks: Yeah, another obvious choice.
Montreal/Dorion-Rigaud commuter train: See the snub? Where’s Montreal/Deux-Montagnes? Ours runs more often, is more comfortable and faster (and isn’t made redundant with an express bus service).
Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre: Pointe-Claire must have paid a lot of money to the Gazette to get it on this list so many times. Maybe we should add Pointe-Claire city hall? The Pointe-Claire library? The Pointe-Claire water tower?
So how about it? Does the northern West Island offer nothing of cultural significance?
Here’s some suggestions from me. Feel free to add yours below:
- Cap St-Jacques (Pierrefonds)
- Centennial Park (DDO)
- Sainte-Geneviève (in its entirety)
- The Ile-Bizard-Laval-sur-le-lac ferry