Sunday, 14 September 2014

Montreal's sea lust

These Montrealers clearly have a lust for the seaside.

While a cruel trick of geography has placed the city a fair hike to the ocean, it does have plenty of water around it.

Well completely around it actually, as Montreal sits on an island at the confluence of the wide St Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.

But as I'm wandering along the city's rejuvenated Old Port, I could swear I'm on a trip to the seaside.

Montreal's "seaside"
What nature has failed to provide, Montreal has stepped in to deliver with the creation of a beach at the end of one of the city's marinas.

It comes complete with bright blue umbrellas, white sand, lounge chairs, and even circling seagulls.

Other cities, including my hometown of Brisbane, have created urban beaches, but I wonder if Montreal takes the award for having the urban beach the furthest away from the real thing and closest to the Arctic Circle.

It's early September and still very warm so Montrealers are soaking up every last bit of summer sun before the city is blanketed in snow for winter.

Further upstream, the city's love for the sea becomes even more evident as I spot a group of people clad in wetsuits and armed with surfboards.

They rush up the river banks, dive into the rapids and catch a "wave".

While the waves aren't the biggest in the world, the swift and swirling river rapids must create their own set of hazards.   If the surfers don't jump off at the right point, I imagine they could easily find themselves swept downstream (after a few days they might actually reach the ocean).

I have to admire Montreal's ability to make do with what they've got, or create it when it's missing.

Take the Urban Forest that has sprouted in downtown Montreal.  Designed as an escape from the traffic and CBD hustle and bustle, this bright orange retreat brings the concept of nature (if not nature itself) into the city - complete with replica trees.

Montreal's Urban Forest

It's a little bit sad to think that as autumn takes hold, the beach chairs will be stacked up, the wetsuits packed away, and the Urban Forest cut down until the city welcomes the next summer.

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