Corn Season! Finally ripe from Quebec's vast fields, city dwellers can now get the fresh stuff. "Picked this morning," was the promise at this venerable institution next to the Lachine Canal. (Google Map) Opened in 1933, Atwater Market operates out of an impressive art-deco structure (complete with clocktower), selling meats, cheeses, breads and other foodstuffs on the inside and surrounded by fruit and vegetable stalls supplied by the region's growers.
Come and visit for an afternoon and you'll be most of the way to having a good Montreal day. The following pictures are impressions from yesterday, presented in no particular order.
A bicycle ride in search of a Vietnamese sub sandwich brought me to this lovely little stretch of road. Soft evening light, fresh summer air, shop after shop displaying a profusion of plants and the pictures just kinda take themselves.
Any public program that encourages cycling as a means of transportation, and not just as a form of recreation, needs to be praised to the heavens. Widespread increase in bicycle use will by itself help alleviate an assortment of societal problems - pollution, obesity, poor health, traffic congestion, road maintenance costs. So Montreal's Bixi automated bike rental program, begun this spring, is good news for all of us, even if one already owns a bike.
In a nutshell, it's a rental service, using unmanned solar-powered stations. The user inserts a credit card and charges are calculated automatically. Monthly and yearly subscriptions are possible, greatly reducing the cost. Fee structure explained here.
The stations are installed progressively in the spring, starting at the beginning of May, depending on weather conditions. Stations are kept in service until the end of November before being removed from the streets during harsh winter months.
Bixi bikes are built by Devinci, a Quebec manufacturer, and have several innovative features.
The 3,000 BIXI bikes are unique. They were created specifically for the BIXI system. They are comfortable, safe, sturdy, easy to handle and suitable for a wide variety of users.
Attractive and practical carrying rack with elastic cord (8 kg capacity).
Front and back active lighting, on at all times.
Reflectors on wheels.
Easy-to-use 3 speeds with chain tightener to lower risk of chain derailing.
Tires made for the urban jungle.
Comfortable seat with standardized positioning heights, easily adjustable to the correct height for each trip.
Low centre of gravity for greater stability.
Internal front and rear brakes for greater safety.
Chain protector integrated into bike structure to protect rider’s clothing.
Innovative anti-theft system.
A great alternative to bike ownership, if you're worried about theft or lack of storage, or if you live off-island.
Visitors to the city now have a convenient alternative as they travel between attractions.
Of course, the program is not without controversy. People are now publicly wondering about the lack of helmets available and a prominent local doctor is warning of inevitable head injuries. Montreal Gazette has good coverage here and here and here.
Other complaints include hidden charges (read the fine print, as they say) and unavailable stalls when returning your Bixi. We should remember that this is a new initiative. I believe the program's heart is in the right place and the city will address these issues where possible. If success can be measured by popularity, then kudos to Bixi for the 175,000 trips already taken.
Ignoring the photographers' injunction against shooting at high noon, I paid a visit to Marché Duluth, a new once-a-week farmer's market in Montréal's Plateau district offering organic produce and artisanal food.
Editor's Note: More Marche Duluth photos can be seen here in Songs of Napoli.
Today's featured entertainment, Caloon Saloon served up toe-tapping stringband music as curious visitors perused a semi-circle of about a dozen kiosks arranged in a schoolyard.
We were treated to a lesson in outdoor crepe-making: Et voila!
This is only the market's second Sunday since it's inception - I have a feeling it will grow in size and popularity as word gets around and habits are formed. A few benches and waste containers would be welcome.