Monday, October 31, 2011

Story: Beaver Lake / Lac aux castors

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Lac aux castors, Mont-Royal: 45.5N -73.583333W

Jane Affleck via e-mail
Halifax - October 31, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to give “Lake of the Beavers” its due. Knowing it was man-made, the lake was almost never the focus of a hike or bike to the top of the hill; instead, the lookout point on the south side was the destination. And the way the gravel path from the park’s access point on Chemin de la Côtes-des-Neiges curves through the trees to the right, away from the lake—it’s as though the route was designed to discourage visitors from stopping at the lake, leading them onward and upward to the chalet at the lookout point and the tangle of paths around the southwest peak. And yet, if the lake weren’t there, the space would be just another patch of grass, used by pic-nickers, ultimate Frisbee players, and pale, sunbathing hipsters. Towards the end of my eight years in Montreal, I might have started to realize there were parts of the city I hadn’t fully appreciated. One late afternoon in early summer, probably a Sunday, I walked up Peel Street, cut through the little switchback at the base of the mountain, and made my way around the east side to the lake. With a pink and lilac dusk tinting the sky beyond the trees and reflecting off the still surface of the lake, I sat on a bench and watched the other visitors. That time of day, most visitors had already packed up and started down the paths toward their homes. But a few small families and young couples, many of them first generation Canadians/Quebecers, lingered by the lake, speaking to each other in the languages of the countries they’d left not so long ago. They seemed at peace, laughing at each other’s jokes, playing with their children. Did they come often to the lake? Had it come to represent something to them about the new lives they’d chosen to lead? I myself was soon to pack and move away from Montreal, try to fit myself into a new city. Would I find such a place, as these new Canadians had found? And would I appreciate it once I found it?






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