COVID-19_Montreal City: Lockdowns

This is a photo of a poster informing to keep distance between people during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Old Port of Montreal, Canada.
Digital sign to keep a safe distance in the Old Port of Montreal, Canada

Listening Soundscape Study 3

After a year and two lockdowns in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I was able to return home to Montreal, Canada for a short period of time. During this time, I wanted to expand on my research practices of Covid-19_Belfast City and take a soundscape recording approach to the lockdowns in some areas of Downtown and Old Port Montreal. The entirety of Quebec faced different zones of lockdowns; Montreal was in its second lockdown since September 2020 with a home curfew being ordered in early January 2021.

I kept the same recording constraints of only capturing five minutes of audio and composing two-minute listening experiences. Places were chosen by a similar approach of using the VisitBelfast Tourist Map while in Belfast, whereas in Montreal this was the Carte Touristique Officielle/Official Tourist Map 2019-2020. Locations focused on touristic places, hospitality sectors, retail sectors, educational areas, and public urban spaces. Parts 1 and 2 focus on the same three crossroads along the famous Saint-Catherine St in Downtown Montreal, Part 3 on Old Port Montreal, and Part 4 on the Quebec Home Alert for the curfew put in place.

For this project, the points of interest are (Hyperlinked to Wikipedia Pages):

  1. Guy Street
  2. Crescent Street
  3. Peel Street
  4. Le Petit Dep on Saint-Paul
  5. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
  6. Place Jacques Cartier
  7. Marché Bonsecours
  8. Promenade du Vieux-Port
  9. Saint Catherine Street
  10. Quebec Home Alert – Used Laval City Hall as map location

Details of recorded soundscape DATES include Dec 17 & 30 2020, January 2 & 9, 2021:

Please listen with headphones to enhance the auditory experience.

Sections are split, Part 1 and 2 are same locations recorded on different days. Part 3 are locations around the Old Port. Part 4 is the Quebec Home Alert.

Part 1 and 2

December 17, 2020

December 30, 2020

Crescent Street

Recorded at 8:57am

Recording at the corner of Crescent St and Saint-Catherine St. At this hour there would be a larger number of commuters heading in different directions to get to work or head to school. Yet, we hear little amounts of vehicles and pedestrians on their morning journey due to many of the workplace establishments being shut down during lockdown. We hear only a few instances of what is left of morning routines for Downtown Montreal.  

Recorded at 3:59pm

Recording at the corner of Crescent St and Saint-Catherine St. Cars are slowly driving through the intersection with their tires passing through the snow. In the background, there is a parked truck with its engine on and moments of a few distant voices. This street usually hosts many types of restaurants/bars, yet they have been closed for an extended period and therefore there is no one around these areas.

Guy Street

Recorded at 8:45am

Recording at the corner of Guy St and Saint-Catherine St. There was a minimal number of pedestrians walking the area, instead, it was a space blanketed by the noises generated by passing vehicles and the morning frigid air passing by the buildings.

Recorded at 3:41pm

Recording at the corner of Guy St and Saint-Catherine St. City speakers playing music during the holiday period with cars and pedestrians travelling around. A snow removal truck lowers its plow to start scraping off the snow from the streets. There are still little amounts of afternoon commuters

Peel Street

Recorded at 9:15am

Recording at the corner of Peel St and Saint-Catherine St. At one of the larger crossroads, we hear some morning commuters and workers travelling through. The sounds of winter tires rolling on the cold concrete streets, the sounds of a truck reversing into an alley, and with the lack of pedestrians there is little organic life present at this junction.   

Recorded at 4:26pm

Recording at the corner of Peel St and Saint-Catherine St. There is a bit more chatter from pedestrians and continuous cars travelling through the snowy conditions. This would be a usual time in which traffic would increase had workplaces been on regular schedules and opened.

Montreal Xpodium

Recorded December 30, 2020 at 4:15pm

Recording between Rue de la Montagne & Drummond Street on Saint-Catherine St. Montreal built a tiny platform that allows you to walk onto each sidewalk. As pedestrians walk onto the metal stairs and platform, you hear each of their footsteps. While standing over passing vehicles.

Part 3
January 2, 2021

Le Petit Dep on Saint-Paul

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal & Place D’Armes

Place Jacques Cartier

Recorded at 5:03pm

Recording of a popular Montreal Old Port Street, Saint-Paul, pedestrians are walking through the snowy sidewalks and passing vehicles.

Recorded at 5:30pm

Recording of multiple groups of people playing and enjoying their time in the public space across the Basilica. Multiple languages are being spoken, highlighting some of the cultural diversity Montreal represents. A bell is struck in the background.

Recorded at 5:58pm

Recording in front of a Maple syrup stand and a light installation, where multiple groups of people are walking through. This is a low amount of people that would usually fill up this area due to its proximity to various shops and restaurants. There was also supposed to be a small winter festival in this area.   

Marché Bonsecours

Promenade du Vieux-Port

Recorded at 6:19pm

Recording of pedestrians, a dog, and music being played by a passing vehicle.    

Recorded at 6:40pm

Recording of large public space with groups of pedestrians walking the area. There were no winter festivities which would usually produce much more of an active space.  

Part 4
January 9, 2021

Québec Curfew Alert

Recorded at 6:30pm

Recording of the Québec Alert Ready – Emergency Alert for the January 9th, 2021, home curfew. Both English and French versions are recorded.

Additional Contributions

1- Sounding Montreal During Covid-19

This project reflects through an auditory and sonic art perspective how the city sounds like without the presence of humans or the normal amount of human density in popular areas in public spaces of Montreal.

This project is accessible via Echoes (Geolocated audio tours & experiences):
Or alternatively scan the QR code below…

2- Cities and Memory

This sound map is part of Cities and Memory: #StayHomeSounds is a global field recording & sound art work that presents both the present reality of a place and an alternative, reimagined sound world – remixing the world, one sound at at time.

Scroll to Montreal, Canada and you will see all files I have recorded.

3- Radio Aporee – Soundscapes in the Pandemic:

The platform radio aporee is online since about 2000, the project radio aporee ::: maps has started 2006. it is a global soundmap dedicated to field recording, phonography and the art of listening. it connects sound recordings to its places of origin, in order to create a sonic cartography, publicly accessible as a collaborative project. It contains recordings from numerous urban, rural and natural environments, disclosing their complex shape and sonic conditions, as well as the different perceptions, practices and artistic perspectives of its many contributors. this makes it a valuable resource for art, education and research projects, and for your personal pleasure.

In addition to aspects of collecting, archiving and sound-mapping, the radio aporee platform also invokes experiments at the boundaries of different media and public space. within this notion, radio means both a technology in transition and a narrative. it constitutes a field whose qualities are connectivity, contiguity and exchange. concepts of transmitter/ receiver and performer/ listener may become transparent and reversible.

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