|Babcock & Wilcox Boiler Factory/St. Matthew's|
Montérégie Region & Montreal, QC (Map)
Leaving Belleville in the morning, one would normally have a 3 hour drive to Montreal, but with wanting to visit something near the southern border of Quebec, we would be driving closer to 5 hours.
After failure met us at that southern Quebec destination, it was onward to Montreal, where driving along at 90kph (55mph) we flashed past a seemingly abandoned church. The three of us weighed whether to slow down and turn the car around, as it was getting dark and the weather wasn't doing us any favours.
The day was crawling into the evening and with the fading light, the temperatures were also falling. There were significant snow banks up here, so without being able to pull over anywhere near the church, we were stuck parking at a factory down the road and walking back along the highway. The three of us puffed up into our inadequate winter clothes, trying to do our best to withstand the biting winds and frigid temps. It was incredible how much colder it was in southern Quebec than back home.
Even though the weather was doing us no favours in that regard, we were happy to discover that when we thought we were about to dive into knee-deep snow, that it was actually one giant ice sheet, frozen about 4 inches thick and more than strong enough to hold us. Sliding into the church's cemetery out back, we left no footprints behind us, something Donnie was very happy about with his elaborate film camera.
As we approached the edge of the church building, it was only there that you could stamp down on the edge of the ice sheet to break off a small piece.
This is St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in St. Chrysostome, built in 1847. As church attendance dwindled into the 1980s, an annual service continued to be held here until 1985, when vandals broke in and damaged/stole much of the furniture & glass.
The three of us would stand in the church loft as night fell, taking turns lightpainting the dark room. I gave the climb into the bell tower a few honest attempts, but it would end up being just a bit too much in terms of having to shift my hands and contort my body.
We'd scurry out of there and slide back onto the road, moving quickly towards the warmth of our car back at the factory, before finally checking off that last hour of driving to Montreal.
Checking into our Hotel Plateau Royale, we then blindly made our way up Av du Parc, assuming there would of course be a poutine shop of some sorts around. Donnie was adamant that he'd only consume poutine while in Montreal, and since this was the first restaurant of the trip, I was fine with treating myself to one as well.
It might have seemed like it was a long walk during this cold night of hunger, but looking at a map, it actually wasn't a very far walk before we were descending down stairs into a tucked away Frite Alors to have a look at their poutine menu. I'd skip the beer for I knew it would be all too filling, but sure enough, it wasn't 30 minutes later that we found ourselves at a convenience store, then headed back to the hotel with strange sizes of Colt 45.
(Funny aside: we thought Quebec just had weird bottles of Colt 45, but we actually had just happened to go there at the time of the bottle switch where you can't get 40s of Colt 45 in Quebec, Ontario OR Nova Scotia anymore :(
We started out the next day by setting out to see Old Montreal, where we then heard about Sicilian Mafia crime boss Vito Rizzuto's funeral happening this one day we happened to be in town. As Steve & Donnie wanted to drive by and see how many shady characters and police there were, it was off to some suburb of Montreal, where we didn't see very much besides a few undercovers in unmarked vehicles. We parked the car for a bit, I talked about Feds Watching and 2Chainz and appropriate rap topics, while Steve glared at the undercover cops a little longer than necessary.
Driving back into Montreal and over to the St. Henri neighbourhood, the car was parked and we made our way over an icy mess of an alley, towards the Babcock-Wilcox Boiler Factory.
I didn't know much about the building at the time, but judging from the ground floor, I guessed it was in some stage of demolition, although there wasn't any heavy equipment to be found.
Looking at the aerial view on Google today - 11 months later - sure enough it is a dirt lot, but did they stop for winter? Was there a work stoppage order?
It was hard enough even finding the name of this place, so any further mysteries will be lazily left unanswered.
People will complain about schoolhouse updates as schools are "all the same" and "we've all been in them", but on the other end of the spectrum, I've always enjoyed getting the unique opportunity to visit a place during its last days. Normally one doesn't get to visit a place in partial demolition.
So I spent a great amount of time on the ground floor, with no worries about running out of daylight or annoying my friends, since Donnie would need hours with his elaborate cameras here. In addition, Babcock-Wilcox isn't a small factory, so in strolling about and setting up pictures, it was a decent walk just to move from one side of the complex to the other.
Although, by the time I made it to the second floor, I looked through a missing doorway and noticed that even in needing time for his long exposures, Don had made it up here before me.
A giant box layered in used paint cans.
Speaking of paint cans, although there was lots of garbage spraypaint and going over one another, it was still Montreal, so obviously there was still impressive graffiti around.
Soon enough, the day's fading light would find itself in my pictures, as we would end up here for hours. Standing around and tiring out, we wondered how we didn't think to bring along any 40s. Donnie even needed to return to his car for a light meter or lens brush or something, so where Steve & I tried to convince him to go pick us up some beer, it was to no avail.
I made my way up to the roof, where today's sun had made some of the areas softer than that churchyard from earlier in the trip; leading one to the enjoyable predicament of breaking through ice sheets unpredictably as you walked along. Steve, with all of his love for soft roofs and deteriorating structures, was enjoying it even more.
I personally enjoyed standing by the skylights, watching the cars disappear as they flew by along Autoroute 20.
It wasn't nearly as cold as that evening at the church in St. Chrysostome, allowing me to lounge about the rooftop snow desert.
Eventually it was time to get some dinner and beverages.
I didn't have poutine for lunch or dinner - like some of our group - but once more malt liquor was consumed, well, it's harder to turn down montreal smoked meat, cheese curds, gravy and fries while at a 4 a.m. diner.
I was plenty fine with the decision, while I also sat there amused with Donnie trying to make fun of me, confused by The Cranberries playing over the speakers, who he thought were The Cardigans.
I had more than enough poutine by the morning of December 31st, opting to stop at a nice looking breakfast spot just before we were to merge onto the autoroute. I was so tired that when the pretty waitress asked the standard "comment ça vai", I couldn't even manage to remember "ça va bien" was what I was supposed to say in return.
It was a long, tired slog back down towards Windsor. Where I even had to drive for a bit, as poor Donnie needed some sleep.
Thankfully for me, I was only going to Toronto for my standard New Year's Eve festivities there, leaving Don & Steve to drive the rest of the way to Windsor by themselves.
2013 was ended and 2014 was welcomed at Ingram's place, with great times around the BR/P/T friends that I don't see nearly enough. The one regret might have came with one of my standard mistakes of trying to stone two birds, in that I left that party as it was dying down, to try and catch my friend Christian at another party. That ended up being a big hullabaloo of taxi fares and missed phone calls, but at least I got to wake up at his parents' fancy place.
The first morning of 2014 would bring navigating the Toronto bus system, from a neighborhood where I had no clue where I was, into downtown to catch my Greyhound back down to Windsor.
With how much I write and edit on here, it's neat to wrap up another year. One with an amazing baseball trip, a once-in-a-lifetime NZ/CA/HI trip, as well as various NF accomplishments that'll stick above other NF accomplishments as I think of my time in this province as a whole.
It was a good year where I certainly can't complain.
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1 - Buzzing The Net - With Belleville Bulls’ arena problem, bigger and new might not equal better
2 - The Windsor Star - Arena Kickoff Ends 30 Years of Waiting
3 - CanadaGenWeb.org - St-Matthew's Episcopal (Edwardstown Anglican)
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