Artist Murphy Cooper doesn’t like to be pigeonholed. But he won’t hesitate to define himself as a proud resident of Verdun, a traditionally blue-collar Montreal neighborhood that has in recent years been transformed to become one of its most artistic, and most celebrated.
Located by the Saint-Laurent river in the city’s Sud-Ouest district, Verdun was a proudly blue-collar borough throughout most of the 20th century. Originally a mostly Anglophone neighborhood, it saw its population became equally English- and French-speaking as the century wore on, and is majority Francophone today. Whatever language they speak, families have tended to stay in Verdun longterm, and many Verdunites have local roots that go back generations.
This lower-income neighborhood’s gentrification started at the beginning of the current century, and, particularly in the last few years, has become transformed. It’s now home to clubs, restaurants, street art, a linear park and an urban beach, drawing young people and artists.
Indeed, the transformation has been so complete that Wellington Street, Verdun’s main artery, was recently named the coolest street in the world by Time Out magazine. Closed to automobile traffic throughout the summer, the pedestrianized street bustles with life and activity.
According to Time Out, “The neighborhood continues its decades-long upward trajectory with the enjoyment of huge amounts of greenspace, a growing list of notable names in dining out and drinking, and plenty of things to do—all buttressed by a strong community spirit.”
So what’s cool today will be even cooler tomorrow.