A reader emailed to say those pipes sticking out of the ground on the falaise are probably “for decontamination testing. They take a core sample and leave the vent pipe to mark the spot…”

Which makes more sense than what I thought: that they were vents of some sort.


After my article about the falaise ran in The Gazette, I got an email from John Fretz, who has done some very interesting research into the St. Pierre River (the pdf is here, on the Green Coalition website).

Fretz helped fill in a few of the gaps in my falaise research:

* Fossils and calcium deposits confirm the falaise is a geological formation dating back to the Champlain Sea, he writes.

* Otter Lake definately graced the location of the Turcot interchange. “It exists on early maps of the city easily available at Westmount Library,” Fretz says. “In fact, there is a park of that name in French at the bottom of Coursol Avenue (Lansdowne), far away from the Turcot. It relates to the St. Pierre River. The last tributary of that stream flows through Meadowbrook Golf Course.”

* In the story, I mentioned I didn’t meet much wildlife. “Try early morning, or late afternoon,” he writes. “Foxes and coyotes have been spotted in the Glen Yards before the devastation.”

I brought a camera when I went for my walk. To see the pictures, click here or on the photo below.

falaise st. jacques

The article I wrote about my walk on the falaise is in today’s Gazette.

Andy Riga
The Gazette

It was an inauspicious start to a hike through a jungle in Notre Dame de Grace.

As I lost my balance and my sandalled feet slipped down the hill, I grabbed for a branch, any branch – the wrong branch, it turned out. It was covered in thorns, one of which remained wedged in my right thumb.

The good news: The searing pain – plus the scratches, bruises, mosquito swarms and fallen-tree obstacle courses to come – helped me block out the roar of Highway 20, a few hundred metres away.

My mind could focus on the mission: exploring remnants of the long-lost park of legendary Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau.

Click here for the rest.

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That’s a photo of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, where advertisers can pay to have their corporate logos and brand names displayed in shrubbery by the side of the highway.

In the 1980s, an entrepreneur asked the city of Montreal to let him to do something similar on the falaise, former Montreal city councillor Sam Boskey tells me. The city turned him down.

I haven’t been able to verify this but I thought I’d throw it out there.

Avrom Shtern of the Green Coalition tells me the escarpment actually continues into Lachine:

“You can see the shale (finely stratified sedimentary rock formations) near the Highway 13 and railway yards area of what once was once called the ‘Lachine Woods.’ CN and CP built their railway yards, after World War II near that area because it was far enough to skirt Mount Royal and was on a plateau. Also, this escarpment was once at water’s edge of the inland sea called ‘The Champlain.’ Meadowbrook experiences flooding after rain storms and spring run-off because of the downward slop.”


The falaise may play a supporting role in an upcoming action movie.

From today’s Gazette:

There is also the action movie Death Race 3000, a remake of the 1970s cult favourite Death Race 2000, which has already set up shop at the Alstom Yards in Point St. Charles and is expected to shoot many of the race sequences in the abandoned Turcot Yards just off Highway 20.

It is going to be “a no-holds-barred, ultraviolent car race, set in 2020.”

It could be set on any present-day Montreal street.