Streets of Old Quebec City

Quebec City (Ville de Quebec, in French) is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and one of the oldest European settlements in North America. Chock full of history, to say the least, and the architecture is spectacular. For preservationists (or heritage conservationists, as Canadians say), architectural historians and those who simply like to look at or photograph pretty buildings, every single building around every corner proved picture-worthy.

Narrow streets, stone buildings, casement windows… it was almost too much to handle. And what continued to be striking: just how neat and tidy and clean every street was. Seriously, one of the cleanest and tidiest cities I’ve seen. Rather than ramble on and on, I’ll let you ramble through these images of the streets of Old Quebec City.

View from dinner.

View from dinner.

So lovely, even without any trees.

So lovely, even without any trees.

Stone and colors!

Stone and colors!

Looking down the street to one of the many University of LaVal buildings.

Looking down the street to one of the many University of LaVal buildings.

Street after street.

Street after street.

Impeccable.

Impeccable.

Down another street.

Down another street.

See? You could take photos for days.  Left to my own devices, I’d still be there doing just that. And that’s only part of Quebec City. Stay tuned. Have you been?

Abandoned Quebec: Henrysburg Church

For years on my travels from Burlington to Montreal, I’ve caught glimpses of a small brick church beside the highway giving me an “abandoned” vibe. Even from the highway at 60mph, I could see that this church didn’t have any windows.

Finally, I was able to take a detour to visit this church. Getting off the exit at Henrysburg, Quebec, I was stunned. At first, there didn’t appear to be a way to get to the church, as it appeared to be encircled by the highways and ramps, without an access road. Fortunately, that was not the case. A small road off the access ramp led to the church.

A view from the side of Autoroute 15.

A view from the side of Autoroute 15.

The stone is the edge of the church property. See Autoroute 15 and the overpass. The church is practically in traffic.

The stone is the edge of the church property. See Autoroute 15 and the overpass. The church is practically in traffic.

See that island of trees? The church sits in there.

See that island of trees? The church sits in there.

Just sitting there in the middle of an interchange. (I do not know what Noel Canada means in this location.)

Just sitting there in the middle of an interchange. (I do not know what Noel Canada means in this location.)

The access road leading to the church.

The access road leading to the church (looking back to the highway on/off ramp). 

Despite the proximity to Autoroute 15, this is one of the most peaceful locations that I have visited. The church sits in an oasis of trees. The grass is mowed, probably because there is an active (as recently as 2012) cemetery on site.

Henrysburg Methodist Church, 1861.

Henrysburg Methodist Church, 1861.

Church & cemetery hiding in the trees.

Church & cemetery hiding in the trees. And, no windows on the church. 

The cemetery beside the church.

The cemetery beside the church.

Some headstones date to the mid to late 1800s.

Some headstones date to the mid to late 1800s. That’s the highway in the background. 

Others are much more recent, including up to 2012.

Others are much more recent, including up to 2012.

It's always sad to see a vandalized headstone. I wonder if this person's descendents have any idea.

It’s always sad to see a vandalized headstone. I wonder if this person’s descendents have any idea.

View on the other side.

View on the other side.

Front of the church. Note the tower is covered in vinyl. Meaning, not all that long ago, someone "cared" to take care of this church.

Front of the church. Note the tower is covered in vinyl. Meaning, not all that long ago, someone “cared” to take care of this church.

I was not expecting to find what I did when I looked in the church windows.

Rubble!

Rubble!

The interior was completely stripped of all materials - walls, floorboards, everything!

The interior was completely stripped of all materials – walls, floorboards, everything!

Upon further investigation, I found a demolition permit. It expired in 2014. Perhaps they started and were stopped?

Upon further investigation, I found a demolition permit. It expired in 2014. Perhaps they started and were stopped?

Montee Henrysburg.

The former address: 138 Montee Henrysburg.

I stood there fascinated while simultaneously feeling like I was attending a building’s funeral, or memorial service and having so many questions. Why is this church stripped of everything? How long has it been in the middle of this interchange? When was the roadway completed? Why was demolition stopped? Is there a community group, or perhaps the descendents of the departed have rallied? So many thoughts and questions. What are yours?

Presumably, the church was active until the overpass was constructed, until Autoroute 15 was widened or completed. The road was completed around the 1960s, though I cannot find a definitive date, nor one for roadway upgrades such as widening. A lot of google searching reveals only that the church was constructed as a Methodist Church in 1861 and active until 1975, but burials have continued until 2012.

And why strip the church? Perhaps to protect it from fire? It’s much harder to burn a brick building than one filled with wood and other flammable objects.

Does anyone care about this church? I cannot think of another example of a building stuck in the middle of an interchange. One on level, the interchanged caused the demise of the building. Yet, it’s also preserving this structure. It doesn’t appear to be a spot where anything else would be built, so why not leave the church there?

You can see the super-tall  highway lights over the ridgeline of this church.

You can see the super-tall highway lights over the ridgeline of this church.

Do you know anything about this church? I’d love to hear more and find out it’s fate, hopefully with good news.

Abandoned Quebec: Mirabel Airport & Chateau Aeroport-Mirabel

Mirabel Airport opened in 1975, just in time for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. At the time it was the largest airport in the world, and meant to solve the problems of Montreal’s (supposed) overcrowded Dorval Airport (now Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport). While Mirabel Airport was sited a fair distance (34 miles) outside of downtown Montreal, the master plan was to construct high speed rail and a highway to provide easy access for travelers. It sounded good. However, the rail was never constructed and the highway ended before the airport. Mirabel became too inconvenient for travelers and airlines, all of whom preferred Dorval Airport. Passenger numbers never reached the predictions of 20 million, and slowly declined, with passenger service ending in 2004. Since then, the terminal has sat empty, used only for the filming of a few films (The Terminal; Warm Bodies, for example). The former passenger airline runway is used for racing tracks (a brilliant adaptive reuse of all that pavement!) The airport serves only cargo planes.

However, an abandoned airport is particularly on the creepy side, when you consider that it’s a modern relic. The approach to the airport includes an empty parking garage on one side and the abandoned hotel on the other side. The Chateau Aeroport-Mirabel closed in 2002 due to lack of business. The hotel has sat empty since then. For a while there was talk of rehabilitating the terminal into a conference center, but plans never materialized. As of May 2014, the demolition of the airport terminal was announced, citing that rehabilitation / adaptive reuse could cost tens of millions of dollars.

Drag racing on the runways. You can see signs of the airport taxi lanes.

Drag racing on the runways. You can see signs of the airport taxi lanes.

A portion of the terminal that you can walk up to, but not see in.

A portion of the terminal that you can walk up to, but not see in.

That same portion outside the fence.

That same portion outside the fence.

The terminal is fenced off.

The terminal is fenced off.

View of the terminal from across the runway.

View of the terminal from across the runway.

The terminal at sunset.

The terminal at sunset.

The Chateau Aeroport-Mirabel.

The Chateau Aeroport-Mirabel.

Broken windows, curtains hanging, some lights on... creepy in concrete. There's a Soviet Russia feel here.

Broken windows, curtains hanging, some lights on… creepy in concrete. There’s a Soviet Russia feel here.

View of the Chateau and the abandoned parking deck, with the terminal in the background.

View of the Chateau and the abandoned parking deck, with the terminal in the background.

An example of poor modern planning, perhaps? What do you think of this modern relic abandoned and demolished?

Want to read more? Mirabel Airport & Chateau Aeroport-Mirabel & interior photosAn article and videos of the hotel’s interior. And check out the video of the airport.

Parklet Sighting in Montreal

What’s lovelier than sitting outside on a warm summer day for lunch or enjoying a drink and your company at the end of the day? Many restaurants, particularly in our cold northern climate, do not have permanent outdoor seating. Why? Because sitting outside is only a good idea for a few months out of the year. For the rest of the year the sidewalks and patios are cold, covered in snow and inhospitable. But, come summertime we want to take advantage of that nice weather and soak it in as much as we can.

Remember learning about parklets? It’s a conversion of parking space (temporary or permanent) into public space. Some are free for the public, outfitted with benches and plantings and designed to be meeting spaces for community members. Restaurants are catching on and creating outdoor dining areas from parking spaces – a twist on the “park” of parklets. While these are clearly affiliated with restaurants (meaning, not free for the public because you need to make a purchase), it’s still a great use of space to bring the community to the street.

These restaurants parklets are from Montreal, Quebec. While they vary in design and style, all are enclosed and encompass part of the sidewalk and parking spaces.

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A casual parklet with pink picnic tables.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting. And check out the view across the street. Beautiful buildings!

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I'm taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I’m taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

What do you think of restaurant parklets? Do you want to be eating next to traffic? It’s a great use of space if your town or city has narrow sidewalks, but maybe sipping your drink and enjoying your meal is more difficult if a car is idling in traffic next to you. Yay or nay? Seen any in your neighborhood? Would you prefer a parklet for a restaurant or free for public use?

Preservation Photos #198

The Haskell Library in Derby Line, VT and Stanstead, Quebec. It was deliberately built half in each town.

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line, VT and Stanstead, Quebec. It was deliberately built (1904) half in each town. See the concrete marker near the flower pot? That’s the USA/Canada border. Residents from both towns are allowed in the library without going through customs, but if they go anywhere else in town, they must go through customs. 

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Read its history! And yes, you can stand in two countries at once in this library. (Of course I did.)

Sunday Snapshots for Summer #9

A day late, but it’s been a busy weekend of adventure traveling! This was a wonderful site to wake up to in Les Bergeronnes, Quebec.

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