(james benedict brown) on the road

From H-B to C-V

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 6 November, 2005

So, this weekend, I met a young lady off the internet. Why do I get the impression not that many of you are surprised???

Ha, had you worried though… nope, not some elicit rendezvous with a femme fatale, but a refreshing, enlightening and entertaining day out with a complete stranger. We were drawn together by fate, the world wide web, and a common interest in the Montréal Métro.

So, after an aborted first attempt to meet up on Saturday morning (we missed each other by just a few minutes) we re-arranged our rendezvous at the Henri-Bourassa terminus of line 2 (a.k.a. the orange one) at 14hr. This time we met successfully, and after a quick shifty around the ground level of the station, we descended, and began our epic journey. Twenty-eight stations, including four interchanges with three other métro lines, three interchanges with suburban commuter lines… and a lot of escalators. Our month and day passes allowed us out of each station to sample the architecture and art of every station – when the Montréal métro was conceived, designating an architect *and* an artist to each station was a top priority. So while the platform dimensions and signage remains constant, no two stations are the same, and there are many surprises in store.

For instance the very old network poster at Laurier, which included the unbuilt extensions to the blue and orange lines, and the abortive line six; vast municipal graveyards aboveground at Sauvé; at Place-Saint-Henri we found sculptures both old and new suspended on the slimmest of supports hundreds of feet above the platforms; dozens of young hockey players collecting for their teams in and around the deeply vertiginous Lucien L’Allier station; the only ramped access to the platforms at Plamondon; and the incredible giant’s Meccano set called ‘Systéme’ by Pierre Granche that has been constructed inside the atrium of Namur station at the north-western end of the line (see here for details).

Allowing for an hour’s break in the middle to seek sustenance above ground, the tour, stopping at every métro station and collecting a transfer ticket from almost every one – to prove we’d done it, of course – took six hours. It was an amazing experience to compare artworks and architecture in one big go, and to see some of Montréal’s finest works of public art. Needless to say the next day I made sure that my day’s activities required no use of the métro… I was, how shall I say, a little overmétroed…

*j*

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  1. […] Never one to turn down the offer of a weekend away, I’m in Toronto to see a couple of plays at the Summerworks Theatre Festival (including the critically acclaimed You Like It)  and to enjoy one last weekend of Canadiana, in the country’s biggest city. We got into town late last night, courtesy of a shady minivan service that operates outside the normal rules of public transportation. We found Bobby, our driver, standing beside his green eight seater people carrier outside Namur métro station in Montréal at a quarter past five. Namur is one of those remote métro stations at the northern extremity of the orange line that you have no real need to ever visit unless you’re doing an architectural tour of the Montréal métro. […]


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