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.