MONTREAL’S OLYMPIC LANDMARKS
Examining the legacy of Montreal’s 1976 Summer Olympics
Montreal often seems to be a city in decline. A city of worn- down buildings, large empty spaces, and endless construction. A city, perhaps, that was once more grand and picturesque than it is now, past its heyday. The 1960s and 1970s, also known as the Jean Drapeau Era, may have been that heyday. Mayor Jean Drapeau focussed his tenure on making Montreal a global city through cultural and sporting events that were designed to elevate Montreal’s status on the world stage. Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics both came with grandiose buildings and then- futuristic infrastructure. The Olympics in particular have made lasting impacts on the city, both infrastructural and psychological. Seen by many as a waste of money, or a failure of Drapeau’s plan, the 1976 Games never seemed to please locals. Countless venues and structures built for them are now sprinkled across the city. Some of them are empty, some are slowly crumbling, and still others have found new purpose.
Over the coming weeks, The Daily will visit some of these venues to examine their impact on Montreal, and the lives of its residents.
The Olympic Stadium is Canada’s largest stadium. During the 1976 Oympics, it hosted opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletic, equestrian, and soccer competitions. The covered stadium is nicknamed the “Big O” due to its donut shape. The inclined tower rising from the eatern side has become symbolic of Montreal, despite its continuing problems requiring almost constant restoration. Once the games were over, several tenants occupied the space: the Montreal Alouettes CFL team played there from 1976-1998, while the Montreal Expos MLB team played there from 1977-2004. Now, the stadium hosts only the occasional event, such as a monster truck derby, and Alouettes or Impact games requiring a larger stadium than the team’s own. The tower is visible from most points in Hochelaga-maisonneuve.
Underneath the tower is a swimming complex, including a diving tower and a small gym. Here, several families in the audience support the swimmers at practice.
The Daily was denied access to the stadium, as it is currently hosting refugees fleeing the U.S.. Outside, there are deserted plateaus that are frequented by skateboarders and scooter riders.
The locked doors are made of tinted glass, reflecting the large empty areas around the stadium.