THE STREETS OF CANADA
Half boulevard, half legend; old enough to know Maisonneuve; long enough to span Montreal Island, and every Inch a lady— if not always discreet. This is a candid portrait of the Grand Duchess of Canadian streets
By Phyllis Lee Peterson.
The Champs-Elysées is a siren, Fifth Avenue a gilded minx in mink, but Montreal's Sherbrooke Street was a lady. Unlike Nellie, she remains one—a little shabby, a trifle frayed by commerce, but still trailing Victorian elegance and the remembered fragrance of violets across the affectionate heart of a city.
Sherbrooke is unique. It is Montreal's finest thoroughfare, preserving a uniform hundred-foot width almost its entire staggering stretch of eighteen miles. Around the turn of the century, forty-two millionaires lived along twelve limestone, but loaded, blocks. Today the street spans the island from Montreal West to the eastern tip, its grey aisle running through a green cathedral of trees which range from ancient elms to newly planted Norway maples.
Its length includes monasteries, colleges, a school for delinquents, parks, a shelter
for unwed mothers, exclusive apartments, shops, clubs and hotels, the Civic Library, an Anglican convent, oil refineries, churches, a z.oo, suburbs, the C ity of Westmount, farms, the Elegant Mile, dumps, hospitals, cloistered nuns, railway sidings, cemeteries, McGill University, the Museum of Fine Arts, a municipal golf-course, Montreal’s Botanical Garden, the bones of an Indian village, and two towers built to repulse the Iroquois.
Sherbrooke is metropolitan, rural, modern, old-world. English, French — a grey dowager of a street wearing a timeless toque of green and carrying a string shopping-bag to the supermarket at one extreme, leading you with a countrywoman’s strong hand to the river at the other. It is ancient, ageless, and eternally feminine.
The old lady blinks at the morning. The buses weave continued over page
THE STREETS OF CANADA
through four lanes of traffic with Gallic élan to deposit office-workers in the financial canyons and housewives in Eaton's. In English suburbs to the west, small shopkeepers pull up their blinds. Eight miles to the cast, fountains play in the Jardin Botanique that might be Versailles. A white-capped maid dusts a stuffed moosehead over a Parisian door in the faubourgs. Smoke-stacks belch oil stench, a breeder of prize Holsteins leads them beside still waters. Women hang out workers' long johns in raw new developments. A Brother of Charity frowns as he removes a Vote Conservative poster from the gateway to a shrine.
At noon Sherbrooke stirs and the long chime of twelve sends stenographers scurrying from streamlined glass and chrome. Thick boots march under a soutane near Atwater. The elegant windows of the Holt Renfrew department store display Dior originals at the corner of Mountain. McGill undergraduates stream into the Union, and at the other end of the city a boy bats a home-run on the Loyola campus. Wine-stewards blow cobwebs from bottles in the St. Denis, Canadien, United Services and Mount Royal clubs. ("Clicquot '45, Chateau d'Yquem. M’sieu le Sénateur tonight. Mr. McConnell’s dinner for ten.”) The sun flashes from cone-capped stone where Marguerite Bourgeois taught Huron children. A pigeon pecks at Unitarian confetti outside the Church of the Messiah.
But it is dusk when the old lady awakens and since this is a story of Sherbrooke—and mainly mid-Sherbrooke, the Elegant Mile beloved of Montrealers—let it begin when lights spring up like pearls on grey velvet and a single lamp in the Van Horne barony near Stanley stretches out yellow' fingers to the bloodreds of an unseen El Greco, the brown shadows of a Rembrandt no one looks at.
This is the cocktail hour, the day-into-dark hour, the hour w'hen the old lady comes into her own. Elms blend into haze over muted traffic and twilight trails across the Georgian houses of the Prince continued on page 32
continued from page 17
“Life was lived here too strong to let go.
The ghosts that remain are blocks of mansions”
of Wales Terrace where Edward VII slept and Sir William Macdonald put on his carpet-slippers to go out and look at the fifteen million he’d spent on McGill. A high-priced surgeon calls for his Cadillac outside a medical building. The lids close on bandbox shops and crass commerce sneaks home. A debutante dons white tulle in the five-room apartment that costs six hundred dollars a month. A bachelor pins on his red carnation in the room he rents for forty. Long black cars purr to a stop outside the Ritz and Berkeley hotels and revolving doors become giddy carousels for furs and perfume. There is a hush of waiting—a sense of early-evening expectancy—and almost you can hear the clop-clop of blooded horses, smell the pungent mix of brandy and cigar smoke, see the Montreal railway kings and merchant princes who will never again race theii fast turnouts, intermarry their children, and flaunt fabulous fortunes under the trees that watched them come and go.
Here was their bailiwick. From the 1880s until the First World War (and income tax), magnificent gamblers picked up their winnings from the green transCanada betting table and lived—I mean lived—along one mile of Sherbrooke or the side-streets they opened around it. Mansions mushroomed like monopolies under Grand Trunk and CPR rain and ordinary citizens shielded their eyes when they read the Sherbrooke directory; Baronets Mount Stephen and Atholstan; Knights Abbott. Tait. Drummond, Hingston, Van Horne; simple millionaires Redpath (sugar), Gault (textiles), Ogilvie (grain), Wilson-Smith (banking), Linton (shoes), Mackenzie, Forget. MacDougall (stockbroking). Hosmer (telegraphs and flour), Learmont. Workman (hardware), Paton (Shedden Company, agents for Grand Trunk cartage), Macdonald (tobacco)—to name a few. Seven senators and the consuls for Imperial Russia and Germany made it par for the course which extended twelve blocks east from Guy Street to Union.
Get an old Montrealer going and he'll whisper of ancient scandal, sigh over alcoholic scions, hint at deals consummated in hushed limestone that decided the future of Canada. He'll tell you of a full-blooded Chippewa squaw presented to Queen Victoria, of how Lord W ran away with the beautiful Mrs. X to trail out their lives social outcasts in Europe. He'll speak of a young but nameless patrician with the face of a reigning monarch and how he shot himself under the stigma of illegitimacy; of a great lady who flung champagne at her Prussian-born host when he proposed a sneering toast to the Allies after Montrealers drowned on the Lusitania.
This is the Sherbrooke legend — entrenched wealth, power, stories pressed in the pages of time. Life was lived here too strong to let go. The ghosts that remain are solid block upon block of mansions, setting their seal on a city. Hugh MacLennan mentions the Mile in his novel Two Solitudes. He has to. No one can write about Montreal and ignore its massive brooding presence.
Today a few of the old guard still hold forty-room forts on Simpson and Ontario streets to the rear but the Sherbrooke mausoleums are converted to luxury shops—Anne de Bruxelles (chocolates), Peck’s (hi-fi), Gurie Gallery (Chi-
nese jades), Lamartine Studios (Oriental antiques). Gabriel Lucas (jewelry), William Watson (art). Rents are steep. A basement with an areaway where the cook once talked to the muffin-man now costs from two to five hundred dollars a month. Trade comes in by the front door but Sherbrooke is still elegant. The hotel is the Ritz, the clubs the city’s most exclusive. (The Mount Royal Club confines itself to 290 prominent Montrealers, 145 equally prominent out-of-towners.) An agent for Standard Life unconsciously lowers his voice when he -talks term insurance in what used to be the Mackenzie-Workman drawing-room at No. 1245. H. Corby Distiller’s whispers of rye in palest blue outside 1201. The Mile is no longer Society but the widow of a Van Horne maintains the last bastion dead-centre at 1139 where she resides (nobody lives any more) in the fifty-two rooms her husband’s grandfather loaded with art treasures.
“Never buy a picture you don't fall in love with,’’ was the advice of the CPR's second president. Sir William Van Horne’s lifelong scries of amours (which ended in 1915) now hangs four deep in depressing Victorian - Scotch baronial. Scores of canvases by Rubens, da Vinci, Constable, Romney, Raeburn, Goya, Franz Hals, Holbein, Titian, Magnasco, Murillo. Velasquez, jostle for space on brocade-hung walls under goldleafed ceilings. Rembrandt's Young Rabbi looks with dark thoughtful eyes across the centuries—El Greco’s self-portrait in his Holy Family hangs hard by Zurbaran's Elizabeth of Hungary painted for Philip IV of Spain. Their present value is astronomical—one dealer rates a pair of
Franz Hals at a million—yet few Montrealers know they are there. Fewer still have seen them. That Canada’s greatest private collection of art should languish in gilded obscurity on Sherbrooke is entirely in keeping with the Mile’s rigid hauteur.
The hauteur cracked in 1926 when Frank McKenna pioneered commerce in through the seams. Until then, no retailer ventured west of Union. “I guess they were scared,” reminisces McKenna, a florist with “fifty years at the bench” who looks like a leprechaun of distinction. “The Paton house was empty on the corner of Mountain. I needed a store so I moved in. Then I got scared too. I didn’t dare change the frontage so 1 hung House of Flowers in the fanlight and filled the parlor with roses. It looked like a high-class wake when two cops walked in. They said ‘You goin’ to sell here?’ 1 said ‘I hope so.’ After that we all stood around wondering what to do next.”
City Hall, never at a loss since it supplied two bicycle licenses to U. H. Dandurand for the first automobile on Sherbrooke, solved this delicate dilemma by billing McKenna for business tax, thus tacitly opening the Mile to trade. Since then it has flourished in greystone but remains strictly carriage. The street is rigidly zoned. The Sherbrooke Street Association, modeled on those for New York’s Fifth and Park Avenues, sees bylaws are enforced and puts up a continual fight for tighter restrictions. Frontage comes high with mansion - owners demanding as much as forty dollars a square foot for the land on which they stand. Surmounting all these obstacles,
even the brashest builder finds something vaguely intimidating in the presence of a Renaissance horsetrough outside Stanford White’s Mount Royal Club, complete with two bronze lion-heads spouting water for dogs, two fountains for pedestrians, and the seal of the architect’s name carved in stone.
The Mile’s greatest ally against the degradation that overtook Toronto’s Jarvis Street is the heart of a Montrealer. Somewhere along its length he has walked with his mother, worried over his finals, courted his girl, toted his kids, admired ankles when he got old. Here in a haze of grey and green is established repose, the patina of Washington Square, the sheen of London elegance rubbed soft by time. Even the moguls seem loth to leave it. More than one late reveler claims to have heard the hoofbeats of Hugh Paton’s matched thoroughbreds off to the Hunt. A tenant of the Chateau Apartments (built on the site of George Washington Stephens’ mansion Rokeby) swore off the stuff for life after he encountered the former landowner wandering through phantom Italian gardens to the still more phantom front door he kept hung with port and starboard lights so he could find the keyhole.
The past is everywhere strong on Sherbrooke. A tablet on the Metcalfe corner marks the site of Hochelaga, an Indian village visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535 and rediscovered three centuries later. Maisonneuve crossed Sherbrooke in 1643 when he climbed the gully that is Guy Street to fulfill a vow and plant the first cross on the slopes of Mount Royal. In 1694 a “mountain fort” was reinforced near Atwater to repel the Iroquois, significantly and in the Sherbrooke tradition by the Gentlemen of St. Sulpice. Two martelio towers still standing are the oldest buildings in the city.
By the early 1800s wealthy fur traders of the North-West Company such as McGill and McTavish had stashed it away in beaver and retired to sprawling country estates across what was then St. Mary’s Street. Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, military governor of Canada from 1816 to 1818. dignified the meandering lane with his name about the same time another fur trader. “Copper” Browne (because he struck off his own coin to pay his voyageurs), took up residence by McGill's stream which ran down Victoria Street. But it was John Molson (beer) who pioneered Sherbrooke’s future pattern in 1825 when he bought Torrance’s Folly on the edge of nowhere (and St. Lawrence Main) and changed it to Belmont Hall.
An 1865 directory shows Sherbrooke stretching east from Mountain Street to St. Denis, with a staid domestic society clustered around the St. Lawrence intersection and millionaires reaching west on the gilded Mile. Now Sherbrooke entered her potted-palmy days. Snowshoers gathered in winter dusk at McGill’s picket gates for torchlight treks over the mountain. Mansions sprouted and the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association’s grounds near Crescent disappeared under limestone. The Tuque Bleu Toboggan Club surrendered its slide down Bishop Street to St. Catherine. Young bloods raced horses at midnight from Guy Street to Union, with stablemen holding the stakes. Sherbrooke tycoons complained of the paving until it broke the springs
of the Mayor’s victoria, after which things rapidly improved. The greystones entertained every celebrity from Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, through Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier to Kipling and Sarah Bernhardt. Guilbeau opened his “Gardens for Zoological and Gymnastic Display” east of Park Ave. and acted as midwife to the first lion born in the city. (He sold it to P. T. Barnum.) The Mile feasted and slept safe in the arms of Croesus. In white December dawn it awoke to the jingle of spurs and the baying of hounds, as the Montreal Hunt rode by in full pack to wish it a merry Christmas.
In 1871, another Sherbrooke millionaire woke up to something colder than Christmas. Sir William Christopher Macdonald, a shy shabby bachelor who headed a tobacco empire and frowned on all who smoked, took a look at Montreal’s Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning and decided something had to be done. The university founded by James McGill’s will in 1813 with the gift of his country estate and ten thousand pounds had fought a continual battle for financial existence. Now the tight fist of a Maritime Scot opened, and never closed. Sir William extended the campus north to Pine Avenue, built an entire east block for science, established scholarships, endowed chairs, and founded a sister college for agriculture, teaching, domestic science, on eight hundred acres at Ste. Anne de Bellevue twenty miles away. His generosity laid the foundation for modern McGill, yet he ran like a rabbit when anyone tried to thank him. Until his death in 1917, he was wont to slip out from his home in the Prince of Wales Terrace next door and wander the grounds by night, checking up on his fifteen million.
Today McGill is world-famous, Canada’s largest private university with 6,500 students who usually include bookish pilgrims from every province in this country, every state in the Union and every nation on the globe with the exception of Soviet Russia. New buildings are still spreading north and on sidestreets, yet the view from its Roddick gates on Sherbrooke has changed little since my day and Arts ’31. The broad avenue sweeps up through the elms to the Victorian urn that marks James McGill’s grave outside the Arts Building. Victorian limestones to the east, a streamlined Redpath Library and theology’s Gothic spires to the west, all blend into Sherbrooke’s shimmer of grey and green. Each May still finds the stately Convocation parade winding down to Montreal’s loveliest street while the ghosts of a retired fur trader, Osier, Leacock, and a furtive little millionaire with his threadbare shawl, perhaps peep with pride through the trees.
McGill’s Royal Victoria College, the gift of Lord Strathcona and a residence for women students, marks the eastern bulwark of the Mile. A turn west brings you into its happy jumble of splendor. Here you can stay in a greystone converted to guest-house for as little as threefifty a night, or the frostily French RitzCarlton Hotel for as much as fifteen dollars for a single room. (The Ritz maintains two hundred and twenty rooms and a selection of ties for male guests who enter cravatless. Jacketless, they don’t get in the front door.) A five-room suite in the Carcassonne towers of the Chateau Apartments rents for two hundred dollars a month up. which includes parking rights in a medieval keep to the rear. The Mile goes gaily Parisienne at the Berkeley Hotel with a sidewalk café, but remembers itself in time to shut out the public with an awning and shoulder-
high fence. Original apartment-buildings like the Maxwelton, Acadia, Linton, are sooty Victorian and devoted to doctors or old ladies supported by whalebone and the interest on gilt-edged securities. Twentieth-century chrome and black glass shelter Yvette Brillon (hats), kantercrichsen (Danish modern) and Holt Renfrew’s department store. Religious architecture is elegant but unidentifiable in three massive churches, which do not prevent impeccable gentlemen from leering at girls who walk poodles.
Toward the western limit of the Mile the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is housed in Vermont marble and purest Greek. Its impressive exterior features four Ionic columns uncut and unjoined for a height of thirty-one feet, which makes them the largest monoliths in Canada. But it is inside that the Museum makes its impact. Here in Botticino marble are ancient glassware. Egyptian faience, Oriental textiles and pottery, treasures of kings long forgotten. Three rooms on the ground floor lovingly recreate life in early French Canada. The labyrinth of galleries upstairs contains works by masters of every important school since the 14th century and includes two Rembrandts, two El
Grecos, Daumiers, and Corots. Cézanne’s Road in Provence, Renoir’s Neapolitan Girl’s Head, Matisse’s Woman at the Window are here. Canadian painting is well represented from Krieghoff through Emily Carr and the Group of Seven to modern contemporaries.
With its two distinct strains, Montreal is probably the most culture-conscious city in Canada. Frenchand Englishspeaking citizens find one of their common grounds in the Museum. Exhibitions are crowded. So arc day and night art classes, afternoon teas, Wednesday Evenings free to the public with special lectures and films. The annual Fête des Fleurs drew three hundred entries last May from amateur flower-arrangers, two hundred exhibits by professionals. The Museum Ball two years ago brought Life’s photographers from New York to capture a social high-spot and six hundred guests against a lush Edwardian decor of black, gold, white marble, and the Fusiliers de Mont-Royal in full scarlet regimentals. With all this going on and Montreal’s art centre permeating cultural life, its present director, John Steegman, will never have to say at a civic luncheon—as did an official similarly placed in Chicago—“You all know where the art museum is—just across the street from the People’s Gas Building!”
One of the most calmly wonderful things atout Sherbrooke is what lies un-
suspected behind walls. Thick masonry near Atwater encloses the Montreal College with high school and classical courses for boys, and the Grand Semiiury which provides four years’ training fer secular priests. But there is more here, much more. Ploughed farmland in fields worth millions, sylvan retreats, a pond fed by the spring that refreshed the Sulpicians in their original mountain Mission of 1676. In 1694 Abbé François, Viscomte de Belmont, fortified it with stone against Iroquois threat. Two oi his four circular towers remain. Marguerite Bourgeoys used the easternmost as a schoolhouse prior to her death at eighty in 1700. Under the other are buried two Huron converts, one of them biptized by the martyred Brébeuf.
Looking up at the towers from the street, you feel an overwhelming sense oi history—of pioneer life and painted death. These few valuable square miles on Sherbrooke are one of the last holdings of the Gentlemen of St. Sulpice, feudal seigneurs of most of the island in lt>63. In 1937 bad investments brought them to the verge of bankruptcy and the Province of Quebec, with a long and grateful memory for the past, guaranteed an amount up to five million with Sulpcian real-estate as security. The Gentlemen still hold a few scattered remnants oí land including this w'alled stretch where soutanes are reflected in a quiet pond under Lombardy poplars, and boys bat a baseball past a statue of St. Joseph. Diagonally across the street, the Mother House of the Congregation of Notre Dame carries on the great tradition of its foundress, Montreal’s first school-mistress. Here under Sherbrooke’s leafy green is an abiding sense of selflessness. sacrifice, serenity.
Serenity, too. behind thick walls to the east near St. Denis Street w'here I talked to a sweet-faced nun in the Monastère du Bon-Pasteur, which is not a monastery at all but a cloistered convent. The building is more than a century old. spartan, its cheap fumed oak hand-polished to gold. The nun was anonymous behind an iron grille, a small white bird singing love. The order’s headquarters, she said, were in Angers, France. Its chief work here in Quebec, the rehabilitation of delinquent girls sent by the courts.
“But we do not think of them like that. I'o us, they arc pupils.” She leaned forward shyly, imparting a secret of greatest joy. “Tomorrow one of our graduates will be married. Here, in our chapel— is it not wonderful. Madame? She has no family so we will give her a wedding. We have asked our gardener to act as her father.”
Wonderful indeed. I agreed, and felt an unexpected lump in my throat as I went out to the street from cloisters atwitter with excitement as other little white birds cooked, scrubbed, prepared to give a “graduate” her happiest day.
All along its length, Sherbrooke refreshes the spirit with grace: in four
great hospitals, in churches of all faiths —some mellow with time, some thrusting stark lines of futurism against the blue sky. In the Jewish Community Services, or Mont St. Antoine where Brothers of Charity work with boys who would otherwise go to prison. In St. Margaret’s Home, whose Anglican sisters care for elderly women in the house that sheltered William Notman. Canada’s pioneer in photography. In green jewels of park set in city stone—Westmount’s twenty-six acres, Angrignon with its zoo, LaFontaine where you can row a boat in a lagoon or watch live theatre under the summer stars. In the Montreal Botanical Garden, which is as big
as London’s Kew or the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and deserves a paragraph to itself.
The garden covers 260 city acres and combines Gallic practicality with vistas to lift the heart. To begin with, it’s not one garden but scores, and includes an alpinum, aquatic plants, an arboretum, lakes, nurseries, a meteorological station, kitchen gardens, medicinal herbs and a complete collection of flora known to the North American Indians. Here you can stroll by fountains in the formality of Versailles, see a section devoted to
poisonous plants, climb crags silver with edelweiss, or simply bask on a bench and feast on beauty. The whole garden reflects fhought, tenderness. Three hundred schoolchildren come every morning to tend their small plots. Toddlers attend special classes where wide young eyes see nature unfold. The practicality asserts itself in the School of Horticultural Apprenticeship whose graduates are snapped up. as fast as they emerge from their three-year course, by commercial firms, private estates and park-hungry municipalities across the continent. The
Garden answers all enquiries by mail— if you want a plant identified, send a good specimen and tell where you found it. It also gives public lectures and classes, goes on rural TV Sunday nights, and welcomes a hundred thousand visitors a month during summer. 1 hope some of them, like myself, discovered the peace of its monastery garden where cedar waxwings sing on the scented silence.
What gives Sherbrooke, winding eighteen miles through a city, its sense of un-urban tranquility? Time. Trees. The coziness of English - speaking suburbs.
Quick French-Canadian smiles, the little family jokes of a people bound close by language and faith. Polite policemen, busy folk never too busy to share enthusiasm. Like Jules Bazin, Director of the Municipal Library, who shoved papers aside on his desk to show me his latest treasure.
“Singularités de la France Antarctique,” he announced, caressing worn pages beautifully bound. “Published in Paris, 1558, and the second book after Cartier to mention Canada. We have others equally old ...”
Standing in a wide sunny room, I held Les Véritables Motifs published in 1643 and explaining the heaven-sent reasons for the founding of Montreal. I saw original documents bearing the signatures of Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance, Champlain, Lambert Closse, the first town major of Ville Marie. Here is the living story of a city’s birth. Here too are first editions of the Jesuit Relations on which Parkman founded his history, the first books printed in Indian, the first broadsides, edicts, pamphlets of a walled town that grew by a river. In 1910, the Library purchased the Gagnon collection for three hundred thousand dollars. Today it is priceless, the finest early Canadiana extant. A proud past is served here in neo-classic marble. So is a progressive present with a staff cheerfully bilingual, limitless research facilities. and an annual circulation of over a million.
I mention bilingualism because Sherbrooke. like Montreal itself, is divided sharply at St. Denis Street into two distinct worlds. In the east, any French-
Canadian you meet will make a stab at English. Maybe not good, but enthusiastic. (In the Library, the Garden, all civic centres, both languages are fluent.) Here you are swept along on a wave of sheer Gallic ebullience, a willingness to experiment, exhilaration in being alive—which is perhaps why there is a French Canada. In the west you enter a solid AngloSaxon stronghold. Around four o’clock you can almost smell the tea brewing in Westmount.
This city within a city has a population of 29,000 and an assessed value of over $75,000,000, as well as a floral Union Jack outside its City Hall on Sherbrooke. Significantly, Westinounters know their worth to the cent. Their council is elected by acclaim, serves without pay, and casts a bright pure light in the murk of Montreal politics. With metropolitan government mooted, it’s doubtful how long this happy autonomy can last. Meanwhile you can’t buy liquor within the limits, small boys call you sir, and everyone waters the lawn at night. A recent proposal to build an artificial ice-rink on an unused corner of parkland almost precipitated revolution, with outraged citizens prepared to chain themselves to the threatened elms—which gives you some idea. I live in Westmount and love it.
Sherbrooke stops being High Street when it comes to Notre Dame de Grâce, a busy suburb where it serves as an artery of commerce. In adjoining Montreal West, the street meets an abrupt and ignominious end by running smack into a CPR crossing. The east with its Gallic flare stages things better. Here Sherbrooke
leads you from urban stone past fields, farms, cemeteries, shrines, the reek of oilrefineries and the smoke of cement plants, to wide space that narrows as rivers meet. Where three of them merge under Charlemagne bridge, the old lady lets go your hand.
“I’m tired,” she seems to say. “I’ve traveled eighteen miles and seen a city grow from the wilderness. I've melded two cultures, spoken two languages, watched two races learn to live together as Canadians. But if you cross here, there's more on the other side. Three Rivers . . . Quebec ...”
Always along Sherbrooke is this promise of something more and enchantment around the corner. Always the promise is fulfilled. In the dramatic sweep from St. Denis Street east, in courtesy and Gallic sparkle: in serenity to the west, English hominess, solid virtue. Most of all on the splendid central Mile, when street lamps gleam through the twilight and mansions blend into haze.
This is the section dear to the true Montrealer. Here he returns after being away from the city and, walking familiar pavement, knows nothing has changed. Here too he can hear the echoing past— the slur of moccasined feet, the tap of McGill’s cane, the rumble of millionaires’ carriages.
And if, standing beside a railed horsetrough, he catches a woman's rippling laughter, the rustle of trailing skirts, the fragrance of hothouse violets—then he knows he has really come home. To green of elms, grey of stone, and the magic of Sherbrooke Street’s dusk. ★