Deceptive Perspective

View of the Old Port of Montréal

Back in the early 1980s, several commentators writing in the local press lamented the loss of Montréal’s once prosperous and boisterous port. In the late 1970s, several grain silos, elevators and warehouses were torn down – allowing views such as this one today – and new facilities were built further to the east. Montréal did not lose a port, it was simply moved to new facilities, enlarged, with its oldest portion re-configured as a tourist destination (which currently brings in roughly 2 million visitors per year). The linear park system installed in place of former depots was constructed in the early 1990s, another element of the city’s 350th anniversary spending-spree. Today, the Old Port has found a new purpose as upscale, chic playground, while the Port of Montréal continues to play a vital role as the largest inland port in North America and the third most important general freight port on the Eastern Seaboard. Despite all of this, the perception back in the day was that Montréal was losing its prominence, losing an element that once made us great. I find locals are still quick to jump on this bandwagon – seldom traveling far east enough to see the port in action, they opt instead for the more destructive concept that the city has been lost – it’s raison-d’etre torn down by literal bulldozers.

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