Friday, 27 May 2011

Un parc en devenir, l'histoire du cirque, le recyclage - ultra Montréal!

Pour notre sortie du vendredi en plein air aujourd'hui, nous sommes allés au Centre environnemental de Saint-Michel, un site fascinant qui pour moi, représente très bien le dynamisme et le côté éclectique de Montréal. C'est une ancienne carrière de calcaire qui est en train d'être rempli de vidanges mais d'une manière totalement écologique, afin de combler le trou et aménager un grand parc par dessus! Le gaz de méthane qui émane de la décomposition des vidanges est capturé et transformé en électricité pour le bâtiment de la TOHU! La TOHU, située sur le site, abrite quelques expositions sur l'histoire du cirque, ainsi que des explications interactives du site environnemental. On a eu la chance, on a vu l'École nationale du cirque en train de se préparer pour un spectacle. C'est vraiment un bon endroit à connaître. Il y a plein d'événements et spectacles à la TOHU, souvent gratuits. Il y a aussi le Taz, grand complexe qui abrite un skatepark et un roulodôme. Malheureusement c'était fermé mais on aurait bien aimé voir les jeunes s'y entraîner!

Lesser known parts of the Mountain


For this Thursday's English/hiking and conversation course we explored lesser-known parts of Mount Royal, going along the flank parallel to Mount Royal Boulevard, and through the cemetery. The Mount Royal cemetery is spectacular right now, with most trees of the trees in flower. We'll have to explore some of the 'famous people' buried in the cemetery during a future outing. We also looped around to the Outremont summit, which looks north over the Université de Montréal. Not even the native Montrealers in the group had been on this loop yet - fun!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lost forest on Nuns Island - Forêt 'perdue' sur l'île des Soeurs

I got a skeptical look from J. when I took this photo, promising to point out that she is from Flouville, France, population 300 (50 km north-west of Paris), whereas newcomer V. to her left is from Chennai, India, population approx. 10 million. Embarrassingly, I hadn't ever heard of either place. Both J. and V. (I'll use initials to avoid totally embarrassing them) have just arrived in Montreal and are curious about nature and discovering everything about Montreal, so they were game to follow me on my somewhat dubious mission to prove that wild forest still exists on rapidly developing Nuns Island south of Montreal!

This is part of the 'Fresh Air Fridays' outing series that I offer on Friday afternoons via l'Association Récréative Milton-Parc. We go to a different place each Friday, discovering various parks and natural areas around Montreal that can be accessed by public transit, sometimes public bikes (called Bixis) and always by foot. This is the first time I am offering the outings so I have to confess I don't yet have a set schedule of outings but we'll also be visiting places like Parc Longueuil, the 3 summits of Mount-Royal, île de la Visitation etc. (and it's never too late to register, might I point out hopefully!)

The adventure started when we got to Métro Square Victoria to wait for bus 168 to Île des Soeurs. V. was fascinated by the bus schedule, something that apparently doesn't exist in India. He asked if buses were really able to follow the schedule. I think he jinxed us, because the STM skipped a bus, and they only come every half hour! Apparently this was worse service than in India - so much for impressing anyone with North American 'efficiency'!

But we finally got there and were happy to plunge into the dense little forest remaining in the middle of the island just beside Elgar Community Centre. Ducks were paddling around in the puddles - the forest is still quite wet. We saw Jack in the Pulpit, impressive flowers that I had to look up afterwards, as well as those deep red trilliums. I was better at identifying classics like Sugar Maple and fiddleheads and the many red-winged blackbirds we saw. We even caught a glimpse of a snake though we weren't sure what kind. The forest is plastered with danger: poison ivy signs, prompting discussion about a less friendly plant that neither participant had encountered previously. I'm never sure how to explain poison ivy in a realistic, helpful, yet not terrifying way. Any suggestions?

Then we crossed some rather non-descript suburban-type development, and reached the south end of the island where the two participants saw the St. Lawrence for the first time - they were quite excited about this. It is wide at this point and if you look west, you can just barely make out the Lachine Rapids. We also got in an impromptu French lesson through which V. learned 5 more basic words, discussed how to find housing and how filling poutine is. Finally, we saw how development was eating away at remaining forest on the western-most tip of the Island, before looping around at the end of the afternoon to catch the bus home. It was rush hour, so thankfully they came by frequently! Île des Soeurs was definitely worth the detour, particularly the forested part in the middle.

Comments very welcome!

Adrienne

Friday, 20 May 2011

Randonnée urbaine et cours de conversation - français

Tous les jeudis, on se rencontre pour pratiquer le français et l'anglais, en altérnance. Hier soir (19 mai) nous avons vu un raton laveur pour la première fois - vraiment pas sauvage. C'est incroyable à quel point c'est plus facile et sympathique de discuter et pratiquer la langue en plein air. De plus en plus, les participants qui apprenent le français viennent donner un coup de main lors des cours d'anglais, et vice-versa. Puis on voit comment les plantes et la saison avancent!
Every Thursday, we meet up to practice French and English conversation, on alternating weeks. Yesterday evening (May 19th), we saw a raccoon up close. It was the first raccoon sighting for many of us and it was riveting! It's incredible how much easier it is to discuss and practice language when outdoors. More and more, the participants learning French come out to the English class to lend a hand, and vice-versa. Plus we get to see how the season and the plants are coming along throughout the spring!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Journée portes ouvertes au Camp familial St-Urbain

Journée portes ouvertes au Camp familial St-Urbain, le 15 mai 2011. Canot, rando et tir à l'arc dans le coin de Chertsey. Une belle façon d'échapper à la pluie à Montréal! On était 11: du Méxique, de l'Espagne, la France, l'Ontario et le Québec. Je regrettais que je ne parle pas l'espagnol! Pour plusieurs, c'était leur première fois en canot, une de leurs premières fois à l'extérieur de Montréal. Le Camp familial est vraiment sympathique et chaleureux, on y passe toujours un bon moment. C'est pour des familles à faible revenu, des familles monoparentales, mais aussi pour tous. L'Association Récréative Milton-Parc organise toujours 2 fin de semaines au Camp - du 24-26 juin et à la fête du Travail. http://www.campfamilial.org/

Intro au projet - Introducing this project

Depuis 2010, j’entame un projet de rapprocher les gens d'origine divers à travers le plein air, à travers l'Association Récréative Milton-Parc (http://www.miltonpark.org/), un organisme sans but lucratif à Montréal. Originaire d'Ottawa, j’ai toujours trouvé que le plein air était le meilleur moyen de se sentir à l'aise dans un nouvel endroit. Lorsque j’ai habité en France, au Monténégro et maintenant au Québec, j’ai eu le plaisir de participer aux clubs de randonnée, de kayak et de canot-camping. Maintenant je souhaite partager tout le bonheur des loisirs de plein air ici au Québec avec les nouveaux arrivants de tout statut, y compris le ski de fond, la raquette, le canot-camping, le kayak, la randonnée, etc. 

Since 2010, I have been spearheading an outdoor recreation 'for newcomers and everyone' in Montreal, via the Milton Park Recreation Association (http://www.miltonpark.org/), a local non-profit organisation. I have always found that outdoor recreation is a great way to get to know a new place. Originally from Ottawa, I have also lived in France, Montenegro and now Quebec, where I was part of local hiking, kayaking and canoe-camping clubs. Now I aim to share the ‘best’ of Quebec with newcomers through activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoe-camping, kayaking and hiking.