I used to live in Griffintown on the corner of Ottawa and Murray in a little 1 & 1/2 run down, turn of the century apartment, converted sometime in the 50 years prior to my habitation. It was a wicked spot though. Ten minutes away from either work or Concordia, and close to just about anywhere I needed to be downtown but with out all the hustle and bustle that a spot in the Plateau or up on St. Catherine's might bring. Minus the smell of horse shit in the summer thanks to the stalls next door at the infamous Griffintown Horse Palace run by Leo Leonard and all the blown dirt in my kitchen from the trucking transport company across the street, I loved the spot.
I don't know how many times I had a cold beer with Leo (he prefers his warm) on either of our stoops listening to him recount events from the 50+ years that has lived there. Leo's one of the last remaining true Irishmen in the Griff. And he's still holding on to the spot regardless of the encroaching construction crews on the horizon. And I got a feeling that ol' Leo is going to hold out till his last days too. He's a tough old bastard. If your in the Griff then be sure to stop by Leo's and pet a horse. If he's around pay the man some respect and spark up a chat with him, he's always got something to talk about, and he's really a great guy.
I moved out around 2005. Little did I know that right across the street from me was Montreal's board master Barry Walsh. I haven't known Barry for that long, having only the opportunity to chat with him here and there at events or the couple of times I stopped by the concrete pipe at Olympic Stadium. But in September when he invited my buddy to stop by and paint at his place on Murray he was more than gracious to allow me to tag along to shoot some flics and chill to. And here I was thinking that I was holding it down in the Griff when I was there, when I walked in I realized that Barry had taken it to the next level.
According to the Mirror, a couple of years back Barry and Karim worked out permissions to build a half-pipe next to the Vélomakak bike shop. The results of those efforts along with the help a dedicated group of skaters and friends was a solid monster half pipe 7 & 1/2 high and 18 feet across. Built for a fast ride, big air, and with a 3"coping allowing for a wide variety of lip tricks this half-pipe is unlike any other in Montreal. Barry and his crew, who have become synonymous with the concrete pipe at Olympic Park, built this ramp as a nod to that pipe wanting something similar, only bigger with a better ride.
And for those of you who don't know then make a point of it to pick up a copy of Pipe Fiends: A Visual Overdose of Canada's Most Infamous Skate Spot (2006) by Barry Walsh and Marc Tison. It's a solid book giving the history of the concrete pipe at Olympic park and those who have made it a second home over the years, packed full of crazy shots of everyone who's rolled through and the stories they shared. I only recently got my hands on a copy and can't wait to give it a good read. When I do I'll post my review.
But I digress. As I said, I was there that day along with my buddy to chill, paint, flic some shots and soak in some fall time chillin' with the blessing of Barry at his awesome half-pipe homestead. Although he wasn't pleased with his work overall that afternoon, it was still good to hang out with my buddy painting, shoot the shit, and catch a glimpse of Barry and the crew get some big air and long grinds on the ramp.
All-in-all I got to say I was beyond impressed with this spot: a sick ramp, tonnes of space for chillin', a ridiculously spacious patio and walkway set up -great for summer parties and bbq sessions- and an equally chill pad. On top of that he's parcelled out his wall space to some of the locals to ply their works. I didn't get too many shots, not many as I didn't want to be too shutter frenzied on my first visit. Hopefully next time I'm around I can get some action shots on the ramp.
You can't beat this. Much thanks to Barry and KidPQ for having me along.
Stay posted. More from TA, CBR and October updates* coming soon.