Walking In Old Montreal
Cesare Marchetti once surveyed commuting behaviour across the past
one thousand years, and determined that the constant first discovered
by Yacov Zahan of the United States Department of Transport holds
true for mankind all the way back to the neolithic period: the mean
amount of time people all across the world spend in transit each
day is about an hour.
Chris Turner, in an article published in Canadian Geographic magazine,
described a number of experimental walks that he went on in various
Canadian cities, testing this one-hour constant. One of his trips
was in Old Montreal.
of the Old Montreal walk stretch from McGill in the West to Berri
in the East, travelling along St. Jacques and St. Antoine to the
north, and rue de la Commune and Place D'Youville to the south.
that "the circumnavigation took longer than a simple bisection
would have back in 1750, but in any case, I made it all the way
around in about 50 minutes."
My mother and
I tried to replicate the walk, and discovered that an hour is barely
long enough, unless you hike at a brisk pace. Such a speed might
be relevant to a commuter, but for a leisurely stroll, it was much
too short a time.
constant is an average, after all, and surely discounts the amount
of time taken up by, for instance, stopping at a market stall or
to chat with a neighbour. Even commuters nowadays might break their
journey at a coffee shop or stop at the gym for a brief workout
before arriving at the office.
On our walk,
we lingered by the river, watching the operation of the locks. We
read the placards on various statues and art installations and,
yes, stopped for coffee.
commuting, perhaps, but definitely gaining a deeper sense of the
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