Walking the Westmount Walk
I’m still discovering the joys of my own neighbourhood
By Marylin Smith Carsley
Previously published on July 9, 2015
A gentle breeze was stirring, the moon was brilliant, and the homes along our route were humming with activity. There always seems to be a lovely peacefulness in the air whenever we stroll Westmount’s residential streets.
Our early summertime stroll began at 8 p.m. and we did not return for hours. After a special day replete with graduation and family celebrations, this time outdoors became the perfect finale. Occasionally, my husband and I will retreat outdoors in the evenings just to unwind, and to converse without distractions. The serenity of the evening was uplifting, and once again, walking through this area reminded us of how privileged we are to live here.
There are many walking routes throughout Westmount, but I prefer an unstructured and scenic tour when I can just spontaneously open the door and go. Without a directional plan, I can just venture out and end up somewhere. The reality is that I am never disillusioned. How can I be, when so much natural scenery awaits me? Westmount has a plethora of outdoor décor, and I take advantage of each outing to discover the variety of architectural styles in this area.
As soon as spring eagerly sprouts greenery from winter’s frozen fury, I am outside and I continue this ritual until temperatures force me back indoors. Walking during the spring, summer, fall and even some winter days can be the ideal way to appreciate the seasons. When I walk with friends, we catch up on all the recent news. My daughters and I discuss both serious and light-hearted issues while getting exercise. Occasionally I am alone, sorting out issues, listening to music, or just feeling the serenity of my solitude.
Walking is such a simple endeavour. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and adequate time, as rushing does not fit the plan. My favourite strolls originate from where I live, as the many hills are extra challenging. From my door, I can travel up Devon Avenue, past Surrey Gardens and head towards the sectioned-off wooded area of Summit Circle, where cars are not permitted and where dogs roam freely.
Walking is such a simple endeavour. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and adequate time, as rushing does not fit the plan.
I eventually loop around and redirect myself towards Lexington Avenue, and eventually home. This walk is approximately 40 minutes long, and I love examining the varieties of houses and their outdoor renovation plans, the summer flowers and the spectacular seasonal autumn foliage. To me, nothing is more bewitching or glorious than the leaves changing colour. Nature is at its optimum and I treasure the time outdoors, whether or not I am alone.
Another special route involves walking along Lexington Avenue, then turning down towards The Boulevard. This scenic but busy road can be interchanged with hilly streets above and below, such as Lansdowne, Roslyn, Victoria and others. Occasionally, I’ll head down to Murray Hill Park and wander through the green space before directing myself back home. The Summit Circle Lookout is also a unique destination and occasionally I walk down its stairs and stroll the mini-greenspace, where you feel as if you have entered another world. It is a special place to read and just enjoy.
Errands become more pleasurable when I walk through the Sherbrooke Street area. I believe that exercising and running errands is the way to get things done. I may start on Sherbrooke and Victoria and then head towards Greene Avenue. When I am done, I wander through Westmount Park, in the area of the arena, and the library grounds. Touring around this way is comparable to something I would usually do when travelling.
Sherbrooke is multi-directional. You can explore Westmount or connect to Notre-Dame-de-Grace. On many instances my daughter and I have even walked from our home in Upper Westmount towards Ste. Catherine Street, passing Bishop, Crescent and Peel. We usually walk homeward on Sherbrooke and then hail a taxi for the upper region. Walking that intense upward sprawl on a warm day with packages can be too much of a challenge.
Walking combines fresh air and exercise, but it is much more. It could be an opportune time to reconnect with the people in your life. It is also an occasion to unplug from the all-encompassing technology that holds us prisoner. Walking unclutters my mind, and encourages me to go outdoors. In a climate that is so unpredictable, the one way to truly value those precious walking days is to get out and walk.
Walking combines fresh air and exercise, but it is much more. It could be an opportune time to reconnect with the people in your life.
Years ago, before high technology became so prevalent, people did walk more. The whole concept of leisure time was interpreted and valued differently. Now we rush around without appreciating the simplicity of the outdoors. When I visualize a truly exceptional day, it originates with a walk. Tomorrow will be such a day and I look forward to wandering through Westmount. With all the new summer flowers illuminating the facades of homes, it is sure to be a floral paradise as I awaken to the splendor of that Westmount walk.
Images: Andrew BurloneOther articles by Marylin Smith Carsley