“Mile End est mort…”

For the more than three decades I’ve lived in Montreal, I’ve lived in the quarter known generally as The Plateau and more specifically and recently (to my ears, anyway) Mile End, most notably at “Grand Gnostic Central” on the corner of Rachel and St. Urbain (scenes from the cinematic version of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz were filmed just up the block), a couple of locations on Hutchison and Parc Avenue south of Bernard, and, since 1996 (for the time being) on the corner of St Joseph and Parc in what our landlady calls her Chateau du Parc.

mile end est mort

Credit: Mary Shelley

Montreal, like any number of cities on earth, is suffering a process of gentrification. In  my area, it’s been underway for years, but it’s picked up since a number of software companies (Ubisoft and Softimage) have moved in. When it all began, I reflected that more affordable if less “desirable” neighborhoods attract those who can afford to live in them, which will often include creatives, writers, painters, artists, and so forth. Their creative energies, by a cruel dialectic, make the neighborhood more beautiful, pleasant and lively, attracting more residents and businesses, beginning a process of, well, gentrification. The creatives and others who made the place attractive in the first place are forced to move out, to some other quarter, sometimes in some other city, where the process can begin all over again.

A poem in Ladonian Magnitudes, “The Intersection” remarks this process. I share it below as a manner of memorial.


The Intersection


where l’Esplanade

meets Villeneuve


that spring dusk

the air’s first


breathable classic

sunlit redbrick


the unique quaint

three-storey walkups


characteristic of

the quarter’s charm


are almost all

so made up


like new the one

run down white tshirt


underarm stain yellow

building with muddy


white frames peeling

around cracked panes


stands out like

never among


those other fronts

kept up for years


without a thought

of what they’d go for





6 comments so far

  1. […] “The Intersection” (from Ladonian Magnitudes) […]

  2. Pharmakon on

    The road to no-vacancies, metropolitan-priced CondoHades is paved with artistic intentions.
    How long until even Laval becomes yuppie central? Less than a generation I’d say….

    • Bryan Sentes on

      Only urban areas susceptible to “amelioration” (investment) are subject to gentrification, sunshine. The ‘burbs tend not to be included in such…

      • Pharmakon on

        Obviously exaggerating a bit there, but as you so poignantly point out, the improvable areas start out as affordable “slums”, whose mystical boho area unexpectedly turns out to be a marketable commodity.
        Put a microbrewery-cum-vegan-bakery next to a start-up chipping away at the next Fortnite in the shit part of Trois Rivieres, and who knows, maybe you’ll have the next Plateau, or maybe you’ll have fuck all but unpaid bills. “Susceptible” isn’t quite so predictable as you would have it.

      • Bryan Sentes on

        Oh, yeah, absolutely. In my post, which was much more casual than some, I was simply remarking a pattern I had observed in the area…

  3. […] (You can read another poem about the changes in Mile End, here.) […]

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