Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another bridge(s)

There's no better way for me to decompress than to set my sights on a scooter objective.

If you've been following this blog, you know that Montreal's bridges are one of my favourite challenges.

A doctor's appointment took my Vespa and I to a different spot on the island, and put me within range of another target bridge: the Lachapelle bridge that spans the river I always knew simply as the "back river" when I was growing up.  In fact it's the Rivière des Prairies.

I guess people called it the "back river" because, with downtown Montreal on the south side of the island, the north shore is easily thought of as the "back" of the island.  The river there naturally becomes the "back river".

That's just speculation on my part.  A historian would need to dig into that to find out the truth.  Since this is my blog, and it's late, I'm satisfied with my explanation and I'll leave it at that.

The appeal of the Lachapelle bridge is that I grew up in the Chomedey section of the City of Laval.  To get to Montreal you pretty much always took the Lachapelle bridge (Autoroute 13 wasn't even in the planning stages back then).  We always used to call it the Cartierville bridge, because Cartierville was the name of the Montreal neighborhood on the south side of the bridge.

Nostalgia is the main reason I am drawn to the Lachapelle bridge.  I must have crossed that bridge thousands of times growing up: in my parents' car, on buses, occasionally on foot, and solo during my college days on my 10-speed bicycle.  Countless commutes were spent in the early 70's with my Dad and my sisters in the family car in an endless bumper-to-bumper line-up waiting to cross that bridge.  When we moved to Montreal Island in 1973, one of the things we didn't miss was that bridge and those traffic jams.

With the population growth in Laval, the Lachapelle bridge became two bridges in 1975: the bridge of my childhood, and a new sister span right next to it.  Today they resemble fraternal twins.  The original span is all steel trusses of varying angles. It now carries traffic north to Laval.  The newer sister span has trusses shaped as graceful arcs and it carries traffic south to the island of Montreal.  The photo below is a screen shot nabbed from Google Maps.
After crossing to Laval on the original span, I went east to seek a vantage point to take these pictures.  I found one that took me right to the water's edge.  There are even a couple of park benches there inviting you to sit and take in the river as it flows eastward under those bridges.
One more mission accomplished.  It's nice to scratch that itch.

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