Mon­treal’s sport­ing ge­og­ra­phy

Ex­am­in­ing the legacy of Mon­treal’s 1976 Sum­mer Olympics


Over the last month, the Mcgill Daily has been vis­it­ing—and pho­tograph­ing—1976 Olympic venues across Mon­treal in an ef­fort to un­der­stand the ef­fect that sports can have on a city. The Daily found that the legacy of Mon­treal’s 1976 Sum­mer Olympics re­mains through phys­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy, men­tal in­flu­ence, and youth de­vel­op­ment. The Jean Dra­peau era of grand mu­nic­i­pal build­ing projects and ren­o­va­tions may have passed long ago, but cer­tain as­pects of the 60s and 70s re­main. The Pierre Char­bon­neau Cen­tre, for ex­am­ple, is used for many ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing gym­nas­tics, wrestling, mar­tial arts, and other sports. The Olympic Basin, too, re­mains a valu­able train­ing lo­ca­tion for many rowing and wa­ter­sport teams. Other venues have been re­pur­posed, such as the velo­drome—now the Biodome, a cen­tre for wildlife re­search and view­ing place. Some venues, how­ever, have fallen into se­ri­ous dis­re­pair. The Olympic Tower, for in­stance, is un­der al­most- con­stant con­struc­tion, while the Olympic Vil­lage feels worn out and de­crepit.

The Olympic Tower leans over the Olympic Sta­dium; a crane stands be­side it, as work­ers fix aes­thetic as­pects of the tower. Out­side, on a vast plateau, a child takes a photo of his friend skate­board­ing. The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple around the Sta­dium are skate­board­ers, who go there for the smooth ground, large empty spa­ces, and in­ter­est­ing fea­tures like slanted walls and fences. Se­cu­rity guards de­nied The Daily en­try to the sta­dium, as the Sta­dium is cur­ren­itly host­ing Haitian mi­grants es­cap­ing Don­ald Trump’s many anti-imi­grant poli­cies, The Sta­dium is rarely used for sports to­day, only for Alou­ettes or Im­pact games in which larger at­ten­dance is ex­pected, or for one­off events like mon­ster truck der­bies.

While the ac­tual pool at the Olympic Basin is still be­ing used, the stands were are in dis­re­pair. Only one sec­tion of seat­ing re­mains, while the other sec­tions are left as bare con­crete. Be­hind the de­crepit stands is a park­ing lot, where sev­eral con­crete di­viders and fences are be­ing stored. These struc­tures ap­pear to be those used for the Mon­treal For­mula 1 Grand Prix, with sev­eral of them are ad­ver­tis­ing lux­ury brands such as Rolex.

Be­neath the Olympic Tower, out­side the Sta­dium, is a swim­ming com­plex. When The Daily vis­ited, sev­eral youth swim­ming clubs were train­ing, divers were prac­tic­ing turns and flips in a gym be­side the pool, all while fam­i­lies looked on. The swim­ming com­plex was busy, and seemed like an im­por­tant venue for the de­vel­op­ment of young swim­mers in Mon­treal.

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