L’Île-Bizard – Sainte-Geneviève | Memories of adolescence | Press


« Is the blonde lady in the photo the owner? » A man in his sixties asked in English, ordering a poutine. « I think she’s a comedian, » replied the young bilingual cashier. She said  » comedian « , in English. I thought she probably meant « actress ».

“The last time I ate here 26 years ago the owner was a blonde lady,” added the customer. I almost interrupted them. The man was right behind me in the line. The faded photo on the wall, to the left of the cash register, was that of actress Véronique Le Flaguais. I said nothing. My two « steamers » had just arrived.

I smiled at the coincidence. It has been exactly 26 years since I ate at La Roulotte, a famous snack bar in Sainte-Geneviève, too. The decor is not the same – the interior was made of wood at the time – but the hot dogs are still just as good.

Located in the heart of the village of Sainte-Geneviève, rue Paiement, the restaurant, opened in 1954 in a silver trailer, is a West Island institution. We come from Dorval to Senneville for its hot dogs and brown fries, soft and greasy. For the scent of nostalgia too, no doubt.

That’s what guided me there last week. La Roulotte was a crossroads in my adolescence. I ate there with friends I don’t know how many times. A classmate worked at the cash register and he was envied his job. I also have many memories linked to Sainte-Geneviève, where Saint-Jean was celebrated, hardly ever celebrated elsewhere in the West Island.

Sainte-Geneviève is mainly where my girlfriend from high school, Caro, who is now my neighbor across the street in Mile End, lived. The ancestral stone house of his parents was rue du Pont, 200 m from La Roulotte, near the Rivière des Prairies. A stone’s throw from what is today the Cégep Gérald-Godin. 30 years ago, there was no French-speaking CEGEP in the West Island and it took me almost two hours to get to Bois-de-Boulogne CEGEP by public transport.

At the corner of boulevard Gouin, I saw the bus stop where I shivered so often in the middle of winter, late at night, in my felt hockey coat with faux leather sleeves and in white Stan Smith shoes , without a hat or mittens, of course. There is nothing like the adolescence of today to recall the adolescence of yesterday.

When I was 15, I must have been home by midnight on the weekend. I mustn’t miss the 11:46 pm 201 bus, the last one, otherwise I was done. I took this bus route again in the wrong direction, from Boulevard Saint-Charles in Kirkland, where I lived from 9 to 19 years old, to Boulevard Gouin and the pretty heritage buildings of Sainte-Geneviève, one of the most charming villages of the West Island, with Pointe-Claire and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

26 years ago, I stopped here – for two « steamers » – on my way to the Bois-de-L’Île-Bizard nature park. I was, like the other trainees of Press, asked to write a report on one of the nature parks of the Montreal Urban Community. I spontaneously chose the one in L’Île-Bizard, which also brings back memories of my teenage years.

In the summer of my second high school, I took the long bike ride from home to my girlfriend at the time, Danielle, in Laval-sur-le-Lac, on the L ‘ferry a few times. Île-Bizard.

Then at the end of high school, it was in the yard at the parents of a friend from L’Île-Bizard, transformed into a makeshift campground, that we celebrated the after-ball.

About sixty graduates on the party. The still vague memories of this evening remain very clear in my mind.

The same year, the Bois-de-L’Île-Bizard nature park was developed, preserving as much as possible the natural habitat of the north of the island. When I went there for a report in 1995, I was told about an unusual pilot project, from which I drew an article for News, the next year. In order to stabilize the beaver colonies, without a natural predator in Montreal, it was decided to vasectomize some males.

The beaver, a monogamous mammal, defends the female against unwanted beavers. But chemical sterilization or castration causes significant changes in his behavior that push him to leave his partner. He also abandons the female when she herself has been sterilized (by the removal of the tubes), for another more fertile. However, an American study has shown that the beaver remains more faithful when it is vasectomized.

I remembered this strange anecdote when I arrived at the nature park, a peaceful oasis overlooking the Lac des Deux Montagnes, where I went for a run last week. I saw neither the shadow of a vasectomized beaver nor that of a human being during my run, but a number of birds of all shapes and colors that my colleague Yves Boisvert, runner and bird watcher, certainly knows the name (some 150 species have been recorded in the park).

Unfortunately, I was unable to go to the large wooden footbridge 400 m long, which overlooks the large swamp and which is closed to visitors. It cuts short a race … By turning back, however, I crossed a turtle at the exit of the forest.

I saw it as a sign of nature, reminding myself that there is no point in starting too quickly. We risk running out of steam. It is by preserving your energy at the start of a race that you make sure you arrive in force at the finish line. Which is also the best marathon advice that Yves Boisvert gave me. A lesson in racing and a lesson in life.

To discover


The sculptural work Call frame at Parc Eugène-Dostie, at 500, Montée de l’Eglise, in L’Île-Bizard

Call frame

In the heart of Eugène-Dostie park, on Île Bizard, the sculpture by Claude Millette Call frame suggests a search for balance through its three inclined representations of the Greek letter pi. Created in 1990, the work of the native artist of Saint-Hyacinthe had been moved in 2012 to be more accessible to citizens.

Consult the sheet of the work

Laila Maalouf, Press

Bistro 1843

Sara-Ann Lennox and her husband, Chef Tarik Belmoufid, own the French restaurant on rue Cherrier. They restored an ancestral house built in 1843 (hence the name of the bistro, where you can bring your own wine). On the menu today, classics prepared with great attention to detail: crusted salmon, paella-style risotto or beef stroganoff.

Visit the Bistro 1843 website

Émilie Côté, Press


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