The past few weekends we have been spending more time discovering our new neighbourhood--Villeray, which is definitely more diverse, both culturally and socioeconomically. On Friday, we took a little trip into neighbouring Park Extension to enjoy some spicy food, something our children haven't developed a taste for yet. Unfortunately, our favourite Indian restaurant, the Punjab Palace, was closed for renovations due to a fire, so we ventured out to try another place and discovered Delhi-Bombay Curry & Naan at 989 Jean-Talon West. The lunch special, a vegetarian thali dish, was just $5.00 for a healthy-sized, delicious lunch. I splashed out and had the non-vegetarian thali dish with butter chicken for $6.00. We also had a mango drink, which was fantastic. When I went to pay at the cash, I spoke to woman working the counter. She appeared to be the only non-Indian working in the entire restaurant. She explained to me that she was Greek, and in spite of the Indian character of Park X, it was once a largely Greek area.
Park Extension derives its name from the fact that the neighbourhood is the extension of Park Avenue. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Park Extension was considered the "sticks" of Montreal. Later when there was no more housing left in the Mile End, Jewish families moved farther north to Park X. Another great tidbit of information about the area: Park X was once considered a hot-bed of communist activity in the 1950s. It remained a largely Jewish area until the population dwindled in the 1970s. Beginning in 1960, many Greeks began moving in, and by 1977, it was said that the vast majority of the businesses on Jean Talon West to Acadie were Greek-owned. Although there is still a handful of Greek businesses, the neighbourhood is now home to a large population from the Indian subcontinent, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The most interesting feature of Park X and adjacent Villeray is Jarry Park, where both neighbourhoods meet for sporting and cultural events. Last year, while catching a few tennis matches at the Roger's Cup, I also watched a Pakistani cricket game on the way home. I've been told that the West Indian cricket league attracts more spectators, who come out smartly dressed. Last weekend, there was a crowd celebrating a Turkish holiday, and today, we're going to attend a rodeo. I'll be sure to take some pictures for my relatives in Alberta.
As you can see, I'm very much looking forward to exploring my new neighbourhood.