St. Henri + you = A match made in Montreal heaven?
Dear reader, meet St. Henri. St. Henri, reader.
I pride myself on my matchmaking abilities, and I can tell something magical is about to happen.
Sick of hearing about your ex the Plateau? Downtown too outgoing? The Village too... outcoming? The east too far to get serious? N.D.G. stand for No Darn Gumption? Been on a couple dates with the Mile End only to find it reminds you too much of your ex?
Welcome to St. Henri
A bit of background, taken from the “About Me” section of St. Henri's OKCupid profile:
“I used to be called “Les Tanneries”, because my life was all raw hides and oiled leather, from dawn 'till dusk. I reeked of the stuff. Hung out with mostly other working-class quebecers and Irish immigrants. Gradually shifted jobs to stuff based around the canal, factories, all benefiting from the ships that came through. Soot and industry, life was still hard. People started to call me the “Smoking Valley”. But ports closed in the 1970's, taking industry with it. Harder days had come, but I worked hard and stuck it out. Quit smoking. My English got better as more anglos seemed to be around, calling me “the Hen”. Lately I feel like life is changing more than ever – I’ve been exploring hobbies like photography, music, and been hanging out with all kinds of rad people...will never forget my roots, though. Looking for someone who, like me, is constantly growing, and who is into what I have to offer.”
So what is it about this working-class hero that is so lovable? St. Henri toiled a long time, and made something of itself. It is now enjoying unprecedented popularity.
Here's how St. Henri will charm you:
St. Henri will keep you well fed
Ah, getting fed, the way to everyone's heart. St. Henri will leave you stuffed and droopy eyed, replete with warm fuzzy feelings. Locavores, foodies, and generally hungry people of all kinds will be delighted by the easy access they have to the Atwater Market, Montreal's second largest farmer's market that stocks everything from fresh produce to local cheese, honey and freshly baked bread. Those who are looking for more of an instant fix can go to one of the many eateries that dot Notre Dame Street. Many are classic, diner-style places that haven't been renovated for over thirty years, and luckily it has been about that long since they raised the prices. Eat a huge greasy breakfast for $6, befriend the waitress since she sees you about three times a week anyway, and enjoy the lively banter and the multiple generations of Quebecers that surround you.
St. Henri will keep you well watered
Okay, being well fed is definitely a plus, but sometimes all a hard working person needs is a drink. And everyone needs someone who can understand this. St. Henri understands. In the heart of the neighbourhood you'll find the McAuslan Brewery, which produces St-Ambroise and Griffon beers (your favourite!) and has an open terrace in the summer. DJ nights, folk fests, and movie screenings are just some of their hosted events. Want to dive head-first into the preferred haunts of the local broke populace? Go to Le Black Jack Resto-Bar. I don't know so much about the “resto” part, but they have pitchers the size of your head for only a smidgen more than what it would cost you to get a regular one anywhere else in town. And lastly, if that huge pitcher has left you emboldened, venture to the Burgundy Lion to sample their collection of 250 scotch whiskies and 100 whiskies from around the world. According to a recent article by Cult Montreal, this may very well be the largest such collection in North America.
The Lachine Canal
Want to go for a romantic stroll? St. Henri has just the thing: the Lachine Canal, officially called Lachine Canal National Historic Site of Canada. And while its days as a major waterway for all manner of hulking vessels are over, it can now be enjoyed as a place to paddle boat or kayak in summer, and skate in winter. Many of the old factories on its shores, such as the Redpath Sugar Factory, have been given new life as residential condos or lofts with a magnificent view of the water. The bike path going along the canal extends all the way to the Old Port, and bikes, single or tandem, can be rented along the way. You can also take the food you buy at the Atwater Market to the banks of the canal for a picnic. Too picturesque for words? I told you so.
Inexpensive, but with character
Not as flashy as some of your previous paramours, you'll soon learn to appreciate St. Henri's understated way of going about things. Super convenient and close to downtown as it is, rent is still fairly cheap, and bargain hunters are eyeing its new condo developments as affordable alternatives to the east end or even Griffintown. Far from a cheap date, however, St. Henri delivers quality. The new condos are chic, upscale and thoughtfully designed so that they're worth every penny (er---nickel?) And the loft conversions preserve much of their original structure so as to pay tribute to the area's industrial past. What you get is a delightful mix of residences old and new, loved, fixed up, expanded, everything. So whether you need a brand new place, or prefer something with age-old charm, St. Henri is the most affordable place to look.
St. Henri is the artist you've always had a crush on
You gotta love St. Henri's newfound affinity for all things film, photography, and indie music. St. Henri is that person who always seems to know what's happening, where all the underground gallery openings are, and where all the hip people are at, without even knowing they're hip. This will make for some very interesting dates. The history of the area and the rapidly changing streetscapes make it a perfect place for photographers to peruse. Notre Dame street's commercial potential is boundless, and local bakeries and cafes, such as the Micro-torrefacteur St. Henri, are springing up all around. BBAM! Gallery, new to the neighbourhood, is a record and bookstore that also shows art and hosts live music. The perfect finishing touch to this bohemian vibe? The newly developed Woonerf (Dutch for “living street”), a green space that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists.
So whether you're looking for a one-time thing, a whirlwind fling, or are ready to rent a U-haul and set up camp, St. Henri is ready for you. Drop it a line at 1-800-HEN-LOVE or simply get off at Lionel Groulx or St. Henri metro stations.
Stock images: Shutterstock
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