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Canada: Parc René Lévesque

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Parc René Lévesque | Canada | Americas

[Visited: August 2014]

It is a beautiful late summer day when I arrived at a bike rental shop in the old part of Montreal. While I was looking at the map, my idea was to cycle towards the east along the St. Lawrence river. But when I ask advice from the rental guy, who supplies me with a map, he points out a cycling route to the west, along the Lachine canal, which would bring me to the Parc René Lévesque, an art park at the very end of the canal, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It sounds like a nice proposition; moreover, I meet an American girl who is heading the same way. We get on a cycling path right away, and first make our way through the part of Montreal where huge ships once arrived and departed, on their way to the ocean. Old factories are still in place, as well as a series of locks to deal with the difference of water level.

Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Story Rock, by Bill Vazan, can be found near the entrance of the park

After a few kilometres, we stop by a big market to buy something to drink and eat, and continue for a nice ride along the canal. At the very end of it, we find the entrance to the Parc René Lévesque - which is named after the premier of Quebec, and the first political leader of our time to try to achieve political independence for Quebec. We cycle around the park on a 4km path. Since it is a beautiful weekend with bright weather, there are lots of people around, but the park is big enough to give everyone space to enjoy. There are plenty of different works of art, both from Canadian and foreign artists, and we stop regularly to take a closer look. That is, if the many Canadian geese and other birds allow us: they are everywhere in the park! When we reach the end of the peninsula, we find ourselves a nice spot on the rocky banks of the St. Lawrence river to finally eat the stuff we bought at the market. The river looks inviting, but we eventually decide not to jump in, because we did not bring towels, and don't have much time left.

Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): View from below the installation Détour: le grand jardin, by Michel Goulet

There is more to explore in the park: there is a collection of artsy pillars that look like flowers, in honour of the man after which the park is named; there is an installation with cats, another one with poles with all kinds of objects in it. The objects are placed everywhere, and it pays to walk on the grass, and discover more than you can see from the path itself. Then, a little further on, there is the Story Rock, with engravings all over it, and a row of five large legs, filled with stones, right on the banks of the St. Lawrence river. We have reached the exit of the park, and it is time to make our way back to the city. We follow a path on the banks of the St. Lawrence river, at the southern end of the island cut off by the Lachine canal. We take some detours, see the sun sink bellow the horizon while crossing one of the many bridges, and are just in time to bring back our bikes after a very pleasant afternoon - happy to have followed the advice of the rental guy.

Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): This work of art can be found at the western side of the peninsula, and is called Hommage à René Lévesque
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Part of a work of art by Pierre Leblanc: Souvenir de 1955 ou 2026 Roberval
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Ecluses, installation by Octanian Olariu
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Leg filled with stones on the banks of St. Lawrence River, one of the five such legs
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Installation made of engraved stones: Vortexit II by Bill Vazan
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): The Passing Song by Catherine Widgery can be seen in the middle of the park
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): La Pierre et le Feu in the foreground on the lawn of the peninsula
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): This installation with cats, called Hermès, can be found in the middle of the park
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Vire-au-vent in the middle of the picture, on the open space in the middle of the peninsula of Parc René Lévesque
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Cheval à plume, sculpture by Miroslav Maler
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Narrow stretch of land in the St. Lawrence River, the western point of the peninsula
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Detail of Souvenir de 1955 ou 2026 Roberval, by Pierre Leblanc
Picture of Parc René Lévesque (Canada): Close-up of the engraved piece of art Vortexit II by Bill Vazan

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