Project 365 – Day 73: Chinatown/Quartier Chinois

March 13 2012

It was raining this morning with a low lying flat grey sky that not even Photomatix would be able to pull any defining features from – even if I used 9 bracketed exposures. It was the kind of day that if I wasn’t forced to go out and shoot something for this 365 project, Nikon would certainly not have been taken out for his daily walk today.

Not feeling particularly inspired, I headed down to Chinatown. I was hoping that there would be lots of interesting characters to shoot. Street photography is something I really want to try to do more of…actually that’s not really correct…more like START to do some street photography.

I admire the talent of top street photographers like Mike Shaw who can capture a moment in time in peoples lives that provide the viewer with a story, or begs the viewer to question the photo’s subject.

Anyway, today was not really going to be my chance to dive into street photography. Normally Chinatown is bustling with activity, but today it seemed really quiet. I’ve made a mental note to go back at night in the summer when there should be a lot more action and opportunities to try my hand at Street. Hopefully I will have got the odd bit of practice in by then as well.

Okay, I digressed a little, so before I continue to ramble on, here is the photo for today. It was taken in Place Sun Yat-Sen (named after the ideological father of modern China) which was opened in 1988 on the corner of rue de la Gauchetière & rue Clark.

Chinese lantern and slate wall mural in Place Sun Yat-sen

Chinese lantern and slate wall mural in Place Sun Yat-sen

Montreal’s Quartier de Chinois has the most paifang (arches) of any Chinatown in Canada, with 4 arches – in the North, South, East and West of the quarter.

Southern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown

Southern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown

Eastern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown

Eastern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown

Eastern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown - looking East

Eastern Paifang (arch) of Montreal's Chinatown - looking East

Both the North and South Paifang’s on blvd Saint-Laurent have 2 Chinese Guardian Lions (known as Shishi) sitting at the base.

Chinese Guardian Lions

Chinese Guardian Lions

Before the area became inhabited by Montreal’s Chinese population it was home to Montreal’s Jewish community, with thousands of Yiddish speaking immigrants settling in the area from 1890 to 1920. Many of the Chinese came to settle in the area due to them working on the railways which were in close proximity.

Since the 1970’s, Chinatown has gradually been cut in size. Over 6 acres of property was lost to the construction of the Complexe Guy-Favreau in the North and a city block with the construction of the Palais des congrès de Montréal in the South. Re-zoning and the building of the new French Super Hospital to the east of blvd Saint-Laurent has effectively prevented Chinatown growing further past it’s existing boundaries.

Despite this, Chinatown still remains a key tourist attraction and indeed was recognized as such by the City, allowing businesses to remain open in the evening – again suggesting I need to revisit this quarter during the long summer evenings.

As you would expect, there are many restaurants, stores selling Chinese produce and Chinese businesses within the area. Rue de la Gauchetière is pedestrianized and is normally a great people watching area – not so much today though.

 Rue de la Gauchetière in Chinatown

Rue de la Gauchetière in Chinatown

Pausing for a smoke

Pausing for a smoke

Blvd Saint Laurent in Chinatown

Blvd Saint Laurent in Chinatown

In addition to the restaurants, stores and local businesses, Chinatown is also home to the Montreal Chinese Hospital.

Montreal Chinese Hospital

Montreal Chinese Hospital

Decoration to the garden of the Montreal Chinese Hospital

Decoration to the garden of the Montreal Chinese Hospital

Even the Holiday Inn has a Chinese theme.

Chinese themed Holiday Inn

Chinese themed Holiday Inn

If you read yesterday’s post, you will know that spring is in the air, and I had hoped to capture the sense of spring coming by shooting waterfalls of snow melt-water cascading down Mount Royal. Well that didn’t happen, but luckily there is another sign that summer is on its way…legs!

Despite this winter being one of the mildest in my 13 years of living in Montreal and people weren’t covered from head to toe in 16 layers, it’s still nice to see legs once again making an appearance on the streets 🙂

Another sign spring is coming

Another sign spring is coming

I am so ready for the summer now.

To view images in gallery format, simply click on one of the images below.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

– Martin

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3 thoughts on “Project 365 – Day 73: Chinatown/Quartier Chinois

  1. so what happen with the jewish population after the chinese took over? how come there is no trace of the jewish in chinatown today?

  2. Pingback: Project 365 – Day 229: Chinatown street sale « Montreal in Pictures

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