This summer, Alexandre Champagne went out to photograph our Gens du Vieux. Residents, workers, and entrepreneurs, they are the faces of our neighbourhood and our community. Significantly set apart by its historical character and unique architecture from the rest of the city, le Vieux is also a place where life is celebrated – a destination for getaways and gatherings. See their faces and learn about their thoughts and impressions.
Yann Fortier is the chief director of World Press Photo Montréal and commissioner of the photography expo, which you can find online and on signs along Saint-Claude and Le Royer Est Streets. For him, le Vieux is complex and multi-faceted. “It has an old soul, a young heart, and a very modern spirit. This is a very vibrant and lively neighbourhood. It adapts, transforms, and integrates new ideas, stimulated by the energy of the people that bring it to life (...),” he explains. And this is exactly what he wished to get across through this project.
Alexandre Champagne, photographer and social entrepreneur, has made it his objective to photograph the Gens du Vieux – the people of this neighbourhood where he began his photography passion with his father. “Le Vieux is a place of discovery and learning. It holds an energy that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s my safe space, the place that has watched me grow. (...) During the sunset, the light reflects and echoes across the buildings. It’s an exceptional sight to behold.” You can read this same quote on the sign introducing the exposition.
Here is his gallery, presented to you with the perspectives of the Gens du Vieux in digital form.
"Walking through le Vieux while contemplating its unique architecture is like taking a trip back in time with each step."
ANTOINE BAILLARGEON, Chef
"When we opened the café, we really wanted to make a close-to-home business, with the goal of playing a real role in this community, and that has allowed us to better integrate here. This café connects people."
ROMAIN BEISO, Co-owner of a Café and Delicatessen
"Coming to work here is as if I’m allowing myself to think differently. I don’t know if it’s the architecture around me, or the history, but it’s different from the rest of the city, and it opens up new horizons."
CLAUDINE DUPERRE, Marketing Director
"It’s one of the most beautiful places in Montreal, especially in its architecture. You can travel in your mind... Le Vieux is a particularly eclectic neighbourhood, because of its variety of buildings and people."
Denis Gagnon, Fashion Designer
"Le Vieux, takes me away from the typical North America."
JEAN MARC LEBEAU, Restaurant Owner
"Old Montreal is synonymous with cultural heritage and history. You can feel it here. At the same time, when you live or work here, you’re writing a whole new page of that history, each and every day."
ROSS LOUANGSIGNOTHA, Executive Chef and Restaurant Co-owner
"Old Montreal is the very genesis of Montreal! The first market, the first churches... it’s rich in history, and it’s still so active today! Movies get filmed here, and the scenery is fantastic; Europe’s got nothing on us."
TINA MAALAOUI, Resident and Entrepreneur
"There’s a real community here, and we interact as neighbours a lot. There is a deep desire to want to do things together with other Gens du Vieux, with other Montrealers. That energy is what keeps me here."
MARK McDONOUGHT, Restauration Administrator
"Effervescence! For me, that’s the best word to describe le Vieux! There’s always something to do here, summer and winter. It’s a true gathering place for both Montrealers and tourists. It holds a real depth and richness."
HERVEY NDZI, Worker in the Recreational Tourism Sector
"I decided to work in le Vieux, because it’s a living, dynamic neighbourhood in constant evolution."
RAPHAËL RIGANO, SME Director
"There’s a sense of pride in working in le Vieux. In the last 10 years, it’s become more and more dynamic, and I have so many regular places now: my shoemaker, Ça Roule, art galleries, BreWskey for a good P-Nut, Rose-Aimée Bélanger’s Whisperers, St-Paul Street..."
ÉLOI SAVOIE, Theatre Communications Director
"When I was young, I remember coming to Place Jacques-Cartier with my parents and eating ice cream. Already at that young age, I was mesmerized by le Vieux, and that’s still true today now that I have my restaurant!"
MICHAEL TOZZI, Restaurant Owner