Since the start of the pandemic, major urban centers in Quebec have lost popularity. In 2019-2020, 62,900 people left Montreal, often attracted by the great outdoors of the suburbs and the countryside. Thousands of people, however, have decided to go the other way, without regret. Look at what still makes the metropolis attractive, despite everything.
Lucie Masse talks about Montreal with enthusiasm, flattering her dog Taxi, who is sitting on her knees in her house in Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie.
“We live in a really nice neighborhood,” says the 65-year-old retiree. There is the Beaubien cinema not far away, there were outdoor film screenings this summer. It is very alive. We went to a demonstration on 1is July for the Aboriginals, it was alive, it was young. “
At another time, this former agroenvironmental researcher dreamed of living in the countryside, with a large house and a vegetable garden. This is what she owned for 22 years, a property of just over one hectare in Hatley, in the Eastern Townships. But for about five years, Lucie Masse and her wife, Maya, had new desires.
“More action, culture, diversity, spontaneity. In the countryside, everything is far away, so it’s difficult to do spontaneous things, ”says the new city dweller.
It was therefore in June that the two women moved to Montreal, after having sold their house in Hatley in three days. Maya has undertaken a doctorate in art history. Their expectations of the big city have been met.
Mme Masse lists the elements that arouse his amazement: cycle paths, pedestrian streets, green alleys, plant beds on the sidewalks.
More action, culture, diversity, spontaneity. In the countryside, everything is far away, so it’s difficult to do spontaneous things.
The pandemic effect
For Camille-Léa Simard, her crush is Bixi. “The sharing economy, I really like it. Take a bike ride and it costs almost nothing… It’s super simple, super fast, the application is going well, ”emphasizes the 30-something from Saguenay.
She and her partner had also had a desire for urbanity for several years. But it was the pandemic that allowed them to satisfy him. His husband’s cultural broadcasting room had to close its doors, leaving him without a job. “We saw more possibilities in the event and cultural environment in Montreal. He applied for three jobs, and he got all three, ”explains the personal finance advisor for a youth clientele.
Mme Simard did not even have to quit his job, despite the more than 450 km between his office and his new home. “I had been telecommuting for a while, so my employer told me it was okay for me to move,” she says.
At the same time, the pandemic prompted her sister, who lived in Montreal, to return to live in Saguenay. This set of musical chairs allowed Camille-Léa Simard to rent her house to her and not sell it, to her greatest happiness.
We saw more possibilities in the event and cultural environment in Montreal.
The couple arrived in Montreal in July 2021, at a time of a general relaxation of health measures. “A lot of things had closed in Saguenay, so it was more limited for outings and restaurants. There, we are served on a silver platter ”, rejoices the one who particularly appreciates the diversity of local shops, the offer of shows and multiculturalism.
“I signed up for a Spanish course. In Saguenay, I had looked, and there was not a very large offer. Here, I was spoiled for choice of the day and the learning style, ”she notes.
Getting closer to his son
By leaving the South Shore for a central district of Montreal, in July 2020, Marie-Claude Roux, for her part, wanted to be closer to her son. “I said to myself: it’s crazy, it’s strange to take the path contrary to most people”, she remembers from the balcony of her apartment in the height of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, overlooking a hundred white and black housing.
But this retired pharmacist was not going to shy away from the “hectic” life in Montreal. “Everything is to be discovered. I walk a lot, I particularly like the parks, the Botanical Garden, ”she says, delighted.
It was not easy to make friends in the midst of the pandemic, she admits, however. Although she crosses paths with her neighbors, the lack of in-person social activities did not allow her to really get to know them. It was by volunteering at Sainte-Justine Hospital that she fought loneliness.
Obviously, such a change in lifestyle generates some frustration. For meme Roux is traffic. “It took me a year to get used to the traffic. There are bikes coming from everywhere, it’s stressful to drive in the city, ”she said.
Camille-Léa Simard, she has against the “puzzle” that is the management of parking his car in the streets of the metropolis. For her part, Lucie Masse saw two difficulties: the incessant noise and the lack of solitude. “In the country, I could walk two hours and not meet anyone,” she recalls wistfully.
But none of this undermines the choice of these neocitadines. They all intend to stay in Montreal for the long term, regardless of the direction of the current.