La Main: the Soul of Montréal
Unabashedly forward, delectable and hip, it keeps the Sabbath, eats Greek, dances Salsa and shouts Forza Azzurri. Boulevard Saint-Laurent, known as “the Main
” to aficionados, is a city within a city. Numerous communities—Jewish, Italian, Greek and Portuguese, to name the principal ones—are found in this true cradle of diversity in Montréal.
Often associated with the establishment and development of ethnocultural communities, Boulevard Saint-Laurent has been the gateway to Québec for thousands of immigrants searching for a better future. In 1996, the government of Canada designated this grand boulevard as a national historic site, thereby commemorating it as a sign of hope and an essential passage for newcomers.
Eleven kilometres long, the Main
crosses practically every important street, avenue and boulevard in Québec’s largest city. Running north-south and dividing the city into East and West, Montréal’s principal thoroughfare draws droves of people in search of its intense cultural life, hip restaurants, and friendly urban lifestyle. Also treasured by the artistic community, it has inspired such major writers as Mordecai Richler and Michel Tremblay, in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Sainte-Carmen de la Main, respectively.
Warm and welcoming, it is home both to essential services and to entertainment venues. In bygone days, it boasted a large concentration of places for a good time. From loose women to impossible love stories, the Main
has always had a libertine reputation. As a part of town known for vice, where erotic shows, houses of debauchery, clandestine gaming houses and places to smoke all sorts of illegal products were established, it earned Montréal the nickname of “Sin City”.
Today, the Main
is also a delightful dance floor and outdoor market. When summer comes, it is a sure sign that great rejoicing and revelry are just around the corner. With the Grand Prix on the “Main”
, Club “Main”
, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the uniqueness of Montréal’s queen of thoroughfares.
Every year, from Rue Sherbrooke to Avenue du Mont-Royal, streets are blocked off to make way for “unmotorized” traffic. For all Montrealers, it is a true celebration! Music, food from all corners of the world, happy people and united colours—worthy of a Benetton commercial. The stage is set! Now for the merchants, giving their sales pitches like Romeo crying out his love for Juliette. There’s the sound track! To play the roles, all that’s missing is you!