Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lachine Village

Lachine Borough Town Hall
My usual route into work takes me along St-Joseph boulevard through the heart of old Lachine village.  St-Joseph boulevard is the continuation of Lakeshore road and it is in the village of Lachine that the Lachine Canal begins.  The canal is a 19th century work that allowed shipping to bypass the formidable Lachine rapids.  The canal opens at the eastern end of Lake St-Louis and heads downstream towards the port of Montreal.

The Montreal borough of Lachine takes its name from a massive, shameless, 17th century, bold-faced, lie.

Unwilling to admit to their capricious royal patrons in Europe that they had failed to find a westward passage to the riches of India and China, the european explorers called the westernmost place they could reach in their exploration "Lachine", or la Chine in French, or China in English; and the indigenous inhabitants of North America they called "Indians".  Asked if they had gotten to China and India, their reply was a disingenuous mais oui!

There you go, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, sort of.  I can do no better than to give the last word on this to Mark Twain who famously observed that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes".

Lachine, before the advent of the Lachine Canal, was the jumping off point for the great fur trade.   From here voyageurs headed up the St-Lawrence in huge cargo canoes towards the great lakes.  Fortified warehouses were built to store the furs eventually bound for the port of Montreal on their way to old Europe.  Some of those buildings are still standing.
Lachine Fur Trade Museum
Today, the waterfront in the Lachine village is a mix of residential properties and charming restaurants.
Il Fornetto - one of the many restaurants in the Lachine Village
 Sitting in the middle of the village is the stately borough town hall, that you can see in the first photo in this post.

Across the way is the oldest portion of the lachine canal that today serves mainly as a landscape element in the linear park that follows the shore.

Further east, just beyond the village, pleasure boaters can enter the first of several locks that eventually lead all the way to the port of Montreal where there is a marina right at the foot of old Montreal.

My scooter commute traces most of that path, breaking off and crossing the canal at the Charlevoix bridge where I head into the downtown core.

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.