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Kilgore Trout

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Each summer in Montreal there are hundreds of street closures for street fairs, block parties and festivals. Just this past weekend alone, for instance, three major downtown streets were closed along with a one-mile stretch of the Main and another mile-long stretch of Mount Royal Ave. This weekend, the Main will be closed again for an even bigger street fair.

It used to be that one of the year's most memorable street fairs was on St. Viateur Street each June 24th. It was supposedly a celebration of St. Jean Baptiste Day, Quebec's "national holiday," but in reality it was just an excuse for people to get together, drink a lot and have a ton of fun. Unfortunately, concerns about noise and security led to the party's demise in 2003.

There has been a void in Mile End summer life ever since then. This year, though, French software giant Ubisoft---which has its North American headquarters on St. Viateur Street---decided to sponsor a new street fair in honour of its tenth anniversary in Montreal. The event was like St. Jean but even better: Ubisoft's corporate presence was minimal and the focus was on Mile End's artists, community organizations and neighbourhood life. The street fair was also sponsored by Fantasia, Montreal's huge genre/cult/Asian film festival, and Pop Montreal, an indie music festival.

The musical highlight of the evening was a great "klezmer hip hop" performance by Socalled. Also memorable was a screening of short animated films and a multimedia performance by Patrick Watson[/i], who scored a silent film.

The photos aren't in any particular order.

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Thanks for another set of good pictures! Lots of street life is apparent. The festival looks like it was a success; hopefully it will be repeated.
 
Montreal is very good at street parties... something the Big Smoke could use a bit of help with.
 
Great pics!

I find it hard to believe any Montreal street party would be discontinued due to complaints about noise - from what I've heard they supposedly don't complain about stuff like that.

I think Toronto is progressing nicely as far as festivals go - in the summer, there seems to be 2-4 street parties happening on any given weekend.
 
I find it hard to believe any Montreal street party would be discontinued due to complaints about noise - from what I've heard they supposedly don't complain about stuff like that.

people do complain. the jazz festival/francofolies/just for laugh trifecta is a corporate behemoth that is hard to unsettle but even then, the residents of the housing project in which most of just for laughs takes place have taken to railing against the festival for taking over their living space for two weeks.

the smaller events have more trouble. the fringe festival almost had to shut down their outdoor site last year after people living in the adjacent condos complained about the noise. now their hours have been severely restricted: last call for alcohol at 9pm and no music after 10pm. pretty lame.

still, most street fairs aren't subjected to complains. the ones that suffer are the exceptions. the old st. jean festival on st. viateur was probably shut down in part because of security concerns over potential alcohol-fuelled violence (of which there is a tradition on june 24th). but the new street fair went on without a hitch and on july 1st there will be another boisterous italian festival celebrating san marziale, complete with marching bands, saint's procession and live music into the night.
 
Montreal: The City comes Alive!

KGT: Again good MTL pix! I noticed the ARRET sign-have all the bilingual signs of any type been removed? That book vendor looked interesting-I would have liked to check that out myself-By the way-Do you remember a book from the 80s called THE ANGLO SURVIVAL GUIDE TO QUEBEC? I failed to get a copy back then after seeing it on display - was this book more satire or true facts for an anglophone living in Quebec? Another thing: with the people pictured was the predominant tongue French or English? With MTLs harsh winters-when the weather is nice the city DEFINITELY comes alive! LI MIKE
 
I noticed the ARRET sign-have all the bilingual signs of any type been removed?

it depends on which part of montreal you're talking about. it now varies from borough to borough: in most of the former city of montreal, french signs predominate, but bilingual ones can still be found in alleys or on the occasional sidestreet. in many former suburbs, however, the signs read "stop," even in mostly-francophone boroughs like lachine.

That book vendor looked interesting-I would have liked to check that out myself

it's a bookstore called s.w. welch. it was located on the main until this winter when it moved up to st. viateur. it was a tradition to have a huge $1 book sale during the twice-annual main madness street fair on st. laurent and its owner decided to do the same thing on st. viateur.

i wrote an article about it for the gazette, actually. you can read it on my blog here.

Do you remember a book from the 80s called THE ANGLO SURVIVAL GUIDE TO QUEBEC? I failed to get a copy back then after seeing it on display - was this book more satire or true facts for an anglophone living in Quebec?

i've never read it (and i was only a little kid in the 80s!) but i did see it on sale at a used bookstore the other day. since it was written by josh freed it would be a good bet to assume it's pure satire.

Another thing: with the people pictured was the predominant tongue French or English?

well, i heard a lot of languages being spoken, but generally speaking mile end is one of the most bilingual neighbourhoods in montreal. the linguistic balance shifts from street to street and even from business to business but on st. viateur street you usually hear an equal mix of english and french.

it can be a bit deceiving too since there are a lot of people who are fluently bilingual. my friend ylan, for instance, who was born and raised less than a block from st. viateur, speaks english with some friends and english with others.
 

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