Sunday in the Dog Park

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Dog Exercise Enclosure (Aire d’Exercice Canine)
Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier
At Rue de Mentana and Rue Saint-Gregoire
Montréal, Québec

Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier (“Parc Laurier”) is one of my favourite parks in Montréal. It is situated in the Plateau neighbourhood on the north side of Laurier between Rue de Mentana to the west and Rue de Brébeuf to the east, and enclosed at rue Saint-Gregoire to the north.

The park is perfect because of all the amenities it offers and reminds me of why I love Montréal. In my home town of Toronto, the parks are sub par and kind of analogous to the quality of bread between the two cities — absolutely amazing in Montréal and mostly garbage in Toronto. Toronto parks are often small green spaces haphazardly inserted into neighbourhoods without too much thought or love. That is, you will find a short walkway, a small play area and equipment for children, and if you are lucky you might get tennis courts and maybe a hockey arena in the winter. Some groups of teenage kids might hang out the areas where there is concrete to practice skateboarding tricks, dog walkers quickly stroll by, and a few toddlers may be supervised in the playground. (I know there are some excellent parks in Toronto, such as Trinity Bellwoods, but I find these more of an anomaly, particularly in the downtown areas.)

Here in Montréal, the parks are loved. They are used to their fullest, even in the winter. Parks are an important element of every neighbourhood and are vast green spaces used by surrounding residents. A hockey arena or two are erected in the cold months, and often the park administrators will pool water into a corner for free ice skating. In the warmer months, families and friends bring bottles of wine to sit in the grass and share a meal, amateur acrobats practice juggling and tightrope, and various organized sports are in session. It often seems that everyone in the neighbourhood are out and in the park, so much so that there is nary an empty spot in the parks. As one Québécois friend explained to me, because the residences in the city rarely have their own backyards the neighbourhood parks are instead used as an extension of their homes.

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In addition to the winter skating rinks, Parc Laurier boasts two baseball diamonds, a soccer/rugby field, children’s playground, outdoor swimming pool, ping pong tables, outdoors fitness equipment (such as pull-up bars and steps), and of course an enclosed leash-free area for dogs. The park is also large enough in its perimeter for runners whom you will see in both the warm and colder months. Bike lanes are also paved within and around the park, and you will see bikers in their daily commutes as well as families riding along the park paths.

One of my favourite parts of Parc Laurier is, of course, the dog park. It is located at the north-west corner of the park where dogs are allowed off leash in the enclosed space. There, you will find all the neighbourhood dogs congregating for what I like to call “pow wow des chiens” with barks, jumps, and runs between the fenced environment. The conversations between pet owners are mostly francophone since the Plateau is French-dominant, but you will hear a bit of English here and there in the neighbourhood and the park. And of course, dog-speak in the exercise enclosure.

The weather was finicky today — lots of wind, clouds, and fleeting sun, and hovering at a mild 10°C. However, it was nice enough for a stroll so we went to the dog park to watch les chiens in action. We met two basset hounds, two Weimaraners, a large Belgian Shepherd, many dachshunds, Yorkshire terriers, a Border Collie, and a Pomeranian among others. And here are the photos of the gang in action.

For more information:
Ville de Montréal website for Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier (French only).
Wikipedia page (English; also found in French Wikipedia).
Yelp entry (English and French).

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