The authors of this little book suggest that the reader, “Put the book in your pocket, get on the metro and go look at Montreal.” I would agree that this incentive drives this very thoughtfully laid out guide, which is just as much about contemporary architecture as is about the city of Montreal and its most interesting neighbourhoods.
It is impossible to find fault with how this book is organized. Provided are large maps of the whole island in relation to each respective neighbourhood, with more detailed maps highlighting each site of interest in that area. Easy access to public transit and hours of operation are always clearly given. Each site is presented with colour photographs and a blurb that offers practical facts as well as some insightful commentary from the authors. It should be noted that these profiles are brief, which again suggests that this book is better “used” that “read.”
This book would best find itself in the apartment of a resident Montrealer (not necessarily with an interest in contemporary architecture) so that it may be lent out to guests or thumbed through in the washroom. It would also make a nice gift for someone who will be spending extended time there, as it is too specific a guide for most travellers.
This is not a glossy coffee table book for a design buff, and the reasonable cost is a reflection of this fact. But in a city with as much history as Montreal, where one is easily seduced by some of its older, more classical architecture, this small guide manages to illuminate how contemporary projects are either inspired by, integrated with, or depart from the traditional aesthetic more often associated with the city. (Courtney Richardson)
by Nancy Dutton and Helen Malkin, $24.95, 190 pgs, Douglas & McIntyre, 2323 Quebec St., Suite 201, Vancouver, BC, V5T 4S7, douglas-mcintyre.com