After so much warm, humid here in Montréal, it is hard to believe that the streets were covered in snow just a few months ago.
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The streets I wandered looking for video shots for Groove d’Hiver are specifically the streets of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Ho-Ma) and Viauville, two neighbourhoods on the eastern side of the island of Montréal which border the St. Lawrence River.
Before the Europeans came, Iroquois inhabited the area. By the early 1800s, it was a rural village, then a working class slum, then a busy manufacturing district. By the 1980s, the manufacturing sector had shrank and the economic decline hit the area hard. There is some rebound now because of the affordability of the real estate.
All this history makes the area’s urban landscape a hodgepodge of blight and gentrification. There’s Beaux Arts architecture from its glory days, remnants of factories, blocks of condos, empty storefronts and plenty of graffiti. Alleyways thread through the backs of most streets, some rough and ignored, some family friendly and “greened”. Copper-clad church steeples are everywhere.