It’s a sign


There’s a story behind every sign; you just know that something happened before the sign was there that prompted the powers-that-be to put one up. In order to prevent another something.

The signs say all sorts of things:

  • Danger

  • You’re not welcome

  • Don’t do something

  • We’re watching you

Or, all of the above.

Of course, not all signs actually need words or pictograms or even a signboard itself.


It was a dark & stormy night…

Oh, Canada. Here we are, almost 6 full weeks before the official start of winter and it’s already begun anew.




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The Village

This winter has been brutal.

The snow arrived early (Nov 12) and hasn’t relented.

Wild temperature swings, ice storms, freeze & thaw & freeze & thaw & freeze again.

On a sunny, reasonably warm (i.e. warmer than -12°C) day one of the best things I can think of doing (other than skiing, of course) is to go for a walk with my camera and revel in the light cast by the still-low winter sun.

On this particular day, I was walking through the Pointe-Claire Village, one of the last places in suburban Montreal that has resisted demolition, gentrification and the onslaught of McMansions. For now, anyhow.

The Village is tiny (less than 1km long end-to-end) and is nestled right by the waters of Lac St-Louis in the mighty St-Lawrence River. Lots of old houses, old businesses and plenty of fixer-uppers make for lots take in.

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Photo Essay #7: The Aftermath

After a big weather event, there’s always a Day After. In my previous post, I gave you a glimpse of what Winter’s last gasp looked like, when 40cm of snow got dumped on Montréal in a day.

This is about the aftermath.

Wednesday morning – the morning after – snow was still gently falling. Snowplows had made a quick pass, but it was obvious that it was going to be a rough day.

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Barely a soul aroundBarely a soul around

Barely a soul around

Everything was quiet, as all the elementary and high schools, CÉGEPs, universities declared a snow day and stayed shut. The mayor of Montréal recommended that citizens not go out and stay off the roads, and by all accounts, most people did.

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Watch your stepWatch your step

Watch your step

Of course, there were those that chose to go about their business anyhow.

Old Montréal is an interesting place; most of the buildings are between 150-200 years old, with some up to 300 (decidedly ancient by Canadian standards) and it’s a mix of businesses, residences, hotels and restaurants catering to both those residents and tourists alike.

Architects 100+ years ago weren’t very forward thinking and didn’t build underground parking garages for the future residents of their buildings. So those cars have to go somewhere – but obviously the owners of these cars heeded the Mayor’s recommendation to stay put for the day. This is the night after.

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Anyone got a shovel?Anyone got a shovel?

Anyone got a shovel?

24 hours later on Thursday night, it’s clear that Montréal’s crack snow-removal teams still had a TON of work ahead of them.

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There's a sidewalk under there somewhereThere's a sidewalk under there somewhere

There’s a sidewalk under there somewhere

By Friday, the clouds parted and the sun appeared, warming things somewhat and lending a natural hand to the snow removal crews. Some people still haven’t bothered trying to dig themselves out.

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The Aftermath 5/5The Aftermath 5/5

Here are a few out-takes. For all you Aussies who think this is exotic and would like a taste, please contact me if you’re interested in a house-swap next March.

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Tasse toé!!

In a blizzard in Montréal, it’s usually a good idea to stay indoors: take the Métro, walk the Underground City, stay at the office, stay home, whatever.

Being outdoors can be downright hazardous to your health: the snow-covered streets mean cars can’t stop in time, the sidewalks are slippery, or you might even get run over by one of these things – like I almost did.

PS: “Tasse toé” is the phonetic joual (idiomatic Montréal street French) for “tasse toi” (typical Québecois French) which loosely translates to “move over” or more likely “get the hell out of the way!”