I haven’t really formally editorialized much here on Margins, but I thought I’d take that opportunity to do so today.
Most anybody who fell in love with midcentury architecture can probably pinpoint a moment at which they did. Whether it’s what they grew up with or whether it was a particular building that stuck out, we’ve all got it. Being from an area with very little of it constructed1Like many resource towns, construction tends to be done with a certain level of reluctance. The markets could be hotter than hot, but builders tend to take a somewhat longer-term approach., I wasn’t much exposed.
Then it happened. Although I’ve always been interested in buildings, cities, and architecture (the Charles M. Shields Library in South Porcupine can attest), I had never given it too much thought. As I’m apt to do, I was out for a walk during the spring of 2006. Living in Vanier at the time, I was meandering about the part of it north of Montreal Road2Ask me in person, I’ll tell you in person. Living on Deschamps was an adventure that year and made my way down St. Denis, past the recently closed École Cadieux.
Then it hit. I walked past 364 St. Denis. Stopped. Lingered. Took pictures. Then continued. 367. A gem! From there, I continued to explore Vanier north of Montreal road over the weeks. The level of care many of these properties receive is stupendous and I very much felt like I was walking through time.
It was like I was walking through the glistening, new, clean images of midcentury suburban bliss. The ones that I saw in those ubiquitous Popular Mechanics encyclopedias. The ones I saw in the all-too-common depictions of those halcyon days past that infected movies of the 1980s as their directors were feeling those twinges of nostalgia.
It was there that I understood what they were after during that period. No, I am not one of those who actually believes in that ideal. I’m decidedly urban, compact, and foot-based in my preferences and what’s more is that I know that those still waters of the modern suburban idyll ran (and continue to run) deep. The idea is that on a quiet sunny Sunday morning, the light came through and I (at least feel) that my understanding of the ideal came to meet it.
Although it shouldn’t have been, the fact that it was Vanier was the pleasant surprise. With the recent attention paid to midcentury modern neighbourhoods like Briarcliffe, I’d love to see more light shone on others – Vanier’s first and foremost.
Over the next little while, I’d love to start the ball rolling.