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.
"For me, it’s synonymous with vacation and freedom. It’s indescribable. When I moved here 10 years ago, I fell in love with everything about it. I didn’t have any business plans, but I knew that everything would work out."
Catherine Archambault, Business Owner
"I remember my first experience with it. I felt this impression of déjà-vu. As if my ancestors had lived here. As if I was coming back home. I still feel that to this day. This is my real comfort zone."
YENTL BÉLIARD-JOSEPH, Resident
"Every stone here was put there by someone. All around us is the chance to get to understand an artisanal craft, dating back several centuries. There’s culture everywhere, openness and accommodation are valued, and I love our contact with the river."
MIREILLE BOILY, Massage Therapist
"I have lived in Old Montreal for four years. My favourite place is in front of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, where I ride my bike and scooter with my brother Rocky. I love the sculpture of the Whisperers. I also like ice cream."
CORRINA CELLERE, Resident
"Each building is brimming with a piece of our history. One of our businesses used to be a hardware store. Sailors lived there before that. My oasis is Le Royer Street, between Saint-Laurent and Saint-Sulpice. I feel like I’m somewhere else entirely when I’m there."
ALEXANDRE COSSETTE, Marketing Director
"On McGill, I can hardly go 50 metres without saying “Good morning” to someone I know. The neighbourhood is lively, and the people are kind. The building I live in dates all the way back to the year 1800. Le Vieux is all about life before work."
NICOLAS DELRIEU, Resident and Restaurant Co-owner
"It’s the place that best represents Montreal. The sunsets are truly beautiful. The moon is too, some nights. My work gives me one of the most magnificent views over the city."
ZOÉ DESJARDINS, from the Heights of the Old Port
"It’s the most beautiful part of an already beautiful city. It’s my workspace, but also my getaway. It’s impossible to know Montreal without knowing its birthplace."
ZOÉ DRUJON-DESROSIERS, Operations Coordinator
"I feel good here. I feel at home, on vacation, and in a different time, all at once. I’m always ready to find a new restaurant, a new street, or a lesser-known part of town."
CAROLANNE GAGNON, Resident
"I celebrated my graduation at the Basilica. We took pictures, then had a cocktail in the courtyard. Each time I pass by, I get to relive that moment. Le Vieux is authentic, and it’s a part of us. I’m proud to live local."
MAÏKA LEROUX, Worker
"Old Montreal is my sandbox. It’s comfortable and evokes feelings of summer, like an iced drink. I started working here as a busboy when I was 17. Today, I feel proud to run a restaurant alongside some of the best restaurants in the city. This neighbourhood has seen all my accomplishments."
MATHIAS LOPEZ, Restaurant Director
"Oftentimes, I’ll walk with my gaze toward the rooftops. I find all sorts of treasures up there, like a hand or a diamond. Old Montreal is where I first met my friend Hélène. At her wedding, I was her maid of honour."
MARION MALIQUE, Museum Communications Specialist