Parc-Extension, a multi-ethnic neighborhood facing gentrification

This afternoon, I decided to read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States in the Parc de l’Estre. Even though kids come from multiple backgrounds, they manage to play together and understand each other. While I was absorbing Zinn’s perspective on colonization, I exuded energy from the kids running around and playing with water.

Below you can hear the kids playing

I truly enjoy being at Parc-Extension, Montréal. People are chatting and laughing everywhere and at all times. Near from Station de métro Parc, this little, enclaved (my autocorrect asks me to write “enslaved” ), neighborhood is alive (social), multigenerational and multi ethnic.

Among the first settlers (remember this place is settled by the Indigenous peoples’ relations to ad memoriam), there was us, Les Québécois (Rioux 1974). Then we left for the suburbs to reach the American Dream, for better living conditions and to have more space. My family who is from Centre Sud did the same and moved to Châteauguay Station in the 1970′s.

Then, the Greeks and the Portugueses got in and pimped the place with their colorful flowers, their churches, restaurants, and bakeries. Now their youth are moving to places like Laval. Whereas the grand-fathers stay. But you can still feel their vibe around while hearing their languages or smelling their food. At the corner of de L’épée and Jean-Talon, you can admire the beautiful and glorious Athena.

Popularly called “Bombay Land”, Parc-Ex is majorly inhabited by South West Asians. You probably noticed a colorful picture I posted the other day where Indian women were traditionally dressed while waiting to enter a majestic temple. They mostly set Parc-Ex’s vibe, since they invest time in building relationships with their neighbors (in parks, at street corners, on their balcony, etc.), maintain gardens where no one would have thought of, lead the food sector with their restaurants, do henna tattoos. I was surprised, as a prejudicial Québécoise, that their children speak clear French.

And now, there is a slow gentrification process going on: Les Québécois and their offspring are coming back. As my friend Django observed and shared with me, the buildings are deteriorating and people seek better living conditions, so they move out. Therefore, renting is still cheap and buying a house too. New urban professionals, who see how Villeray (east to Parc-Ex) and Mile-End (south) turned out, are “visionary” enough to move here. Université de Montréal is also building a new campus wing.

I don’t know if Parc-Ext will keep these different migrating waves of settlers or if it will clear some of them away like gentrification did elsewhere.

What are your thoughts? Do you have more data?

…Laughs are mine 😉

Sources: Oral tradition (thanks to Django + Jonah + anonymous neighbors), personal experiences & archives (genealogic + photographic).

Audio + photos: July 19th, 2017; 15h-19h; Parc de l’Estre, Tio’tia:ke (thanks for hosting me). For technical information, see @syrduav on (audio) & Flickr (photos)


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