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On Which VanRamblings Celebrates Our 61st Birthday

McGill University's Royal Victoria College

Arising a bit late on our birthday morning, this after getting in late from our 13-hour journey from Vancouver to Montréal, and unpacking and readying ourself for sleep, subsequent to posting yesterday's entry from our McGill Royal Victoria College Residence dorm room, VanRamblings made our way over to Saint-Denis in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.

According to Wikipedia ...

The Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood takes its name from its location on relatively flat terrain north of Sherbrooke Street and downtown Montréal, and is located just east of Mont-Royal. Formerly a working-class neighbourhood, with the Eastern part being largely Québécois, and the Western part largely Jewish, the neighbourhood was the childhood home of Québec writers Michel Tremblay and Mordecai Richler where both have set stories in the Plateau of the 1950s and 60s.

Characterized by brightly-coloured houses, cafés, book shops, and a laissez-faire attitude, and home to Schwartz's Deli (famous for its Montreal smoked meat), and a weekend street fair during the summer that sees extremely crowded streets, in 1997, Utne Reader rated it one of the 15 "hippest" neighbourhoods in North America.

Due to its proximity to McGill University, in the 1980s the area's bohemian aura attracted gentrification, the area now home to upscale restaurants, nightclubs, and any number of trendy clothing stores that have taken their place along this strip of St-Laurent and St-Denis.

When considering the Plateau Mont-Royal neighourhood along Saint Denis, think Kitsilano's West 4th Avenue, in the area over by Caper's and Brown's Social, mixed with Robson Street, and you won't be far off the mark.

While ambling along Saint-Denis, we stopped in our for birthday Starbucks coffee (free!... a grande caramel frappucino), a breakfast sandwich, and surfed the 'Net on our iPhone. Now rested and sated, we next meandered towards downtown, and finding a nearby Métro station we employed our newly acquired STM card ($16 for unlimited travel for three days, a good idea BC's Translink should implement), landing nearby the gigantic Cinéma Banque Scotia Montréal, where we took in a 3 p.m. screening of The Help, the much buzzed about potential multiple Oscar nominee.

Set in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, The Help, Tate Taylor's adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestseller, tracks the stories of three women (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone), and their contemporaries, each of the three women attempting to come to terms with life in the deeply racist Deep South. An outstanding and emotionally wrenching film, and just the sort of moving, intellectually enlightening film VanRamblings would wish to see on our birthday, The Help's tough historical subject matter is occasionally leavened with humour. By movie's end there wasn't a dry eye in the (surprisingly packed) house, including those of VanRamblings.

VanRamblings is glad that we brought along our handkerchief.

star.jpg star.jpg star.jpg

After the film, we wandered around downtown for a bit, finding our way along Rue Sherbrooke, back to our McGill University 'resting place'.

For dinner we walked along Sherbrooke (and took the bus along St. Laurent) to Schwarz's Deli, where we enjoyed a humungous and authentic smoked meat sandwich. After dinner we took the Rachel bus back to Saint Denis, wandering the streets til just after 11 p.m., when we decided to take the Métro to the McGill station on Rue University, after which we made it 'home' by around 11:30 p.m. We were kind of tuckered, so read our Kindle for awhile — we're 24% of the way through New Yorker and Vanity Fair columnist Ken Auletta's altogether tremendous Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, a much-appreciated present from a friend.

By 1 a.m., we were truly ready for bed, and surprisingly, once again, we slept the sleep of angels right through to mid-to-late morning.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at August 12, 2011 11:27 AM in Montréal 2011


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