Sunday, February 27, 2011

Modernization not carriage industry revival!

A recent article on a local paper suggests that the horse-drawn carriage industry needs revival. Montréal does not need to revive the horse-drawn carriage industry but to revive its image as a modern city. It is not 1861 anymore and horses, these sensitive creatures who have served humankind since the dawn of time, do not belong in the traffic where they are easily spooked by the noises and overworked for tourism. There is nothing romantic about an industry based on exploitation!

Below is the article and here is the original in French.
Please leave them a comment on the paper's website opposing their "revival plans".

A heritage to preserve : coachmen, carriages and horses in Old Montreal
I pass by the horse-drawn carriages everyday. I hear them happily passing under my window. I love to hear the sound of the lovely horse trots.

Therefore, I wanted to know more about their presence in our neighbourhood. One nice Sunday in January at sunset, the coachwoman has us warmly seated in the carriage. We are the typical winter calèche goers: skaters of Bassin Bonsecours returning to their cars, parents with their children discovering this ancestral locomotion system, lovers taking a romantic ride. Everyone is there: we talk about working as a coachman,  the love for the horses, the current state of the industry, and of its role in  the historic character of Old Montreal. A pleasant conversation which confirms the information already obtained as part of my research on the subject.
About forty horses criss-cross the neighbourhood. They are housed mostly in three stables, Lucky Luke and Écurie de Montréal enr., both located southwest of the city, and the Horse Palace, nestled in Griffintown since 1862. At the request of the owners, the number of licenses for carriages from 2006 to 2010 decreased from 48 to 24. Unfortunately, the decrease in the number of carriages did not increase the traffic or revenue for each of the drivers, "since it is often after seeing a carriage circulate that people decide to go for a ride ."

Projects to revive this heritage
All interviewees complained that the coach industry is deteriorating, especially in Old Montreal. But all is not lost, plans to give new life to this heritage are emerging.
For example, the Foundation of the Horse Palace of Griffin was created in 2009 in order to save this industry, witness of the carriages in the district southwest of Montreal for over a century. It seeks to acquire all of the buildings offered for sale by its owner recently turning eighty: the house of the mid-nineteenth century, the old inn for travelers, the stables in use for nearly 150 years. It plans to restore everything and add a museum on the history of the working-class neighborhood of Griffin. The horses will then enjoy a more operational environment after spending the day drawing carriages in Old Montreal. A metamorphosis that is required because everything is in bad shape yet.

Another project, still on the drawing board, does not leave indifferent. It aims to create a recreational center in honor of the horses in the Old Port: this is one of the proposals under consideration in the redevelopment of the Pointe-du-Moulin and the Silo No. 5, a relic of the early twentieth century and the glorious past of a grain operation in the port. The multifunctional complex is proposed based on sharing the love of horses and concern for their protection as heritage for the image of Montreal. As an indication, it would include a stable open to the public, an amusement park with rides for children, a museum exhibiting carriages and recounting the history of the evolution of the presence of horses in our landscape since their first appearance, the circulation of horse trams in Montreal in 1861 ...
Meanwhile, attending the fate of these projects, why not take a horse-drawn carriage ride for Valentine's Day ...

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