The ever-shifting 189 Notre-Dame.
Montréal’s east end from one side to the other.
''Wow! The river is spectacular!'' - Julie Ouellette, bus driver
Of course, any neighbourhood east of Saint-Laurent Boulevard can be considered part of the east side of Montréal. But the city also has a true east end, which includes the Mercier, Montréal-Est and Pointe-aux-Trembles areas. Though rather far from downtown, these neighbourhoods are worth a visit, at the very least so you can say that you’ve truly been to the end of the island. Naturally, there’s a bus that can take you there: the 189 Notre-Dame.
Other buses service the eastern tip of the Island of Montréal too, but the 189 has the advantage of starting at Honoré-Beaugrand métro station on the Green line and running along the Saint Lawrence River.
During the first part of the route, the 189 makes its way along Honoré-Beaugrand and Hochelaga streets in the residential neighbourhood of Mercier. At Georges-V Avenue, the street signs change from white to black, signifying that you’ve entered the city of Montréal-Est. There’s even more of a shift in setting as the bus turns onto Notre-Dame Street and runs alongside huge oil refineries, a sign that the petrochemical industry still maintains a strong presence in the area. And to think that Montréal-Est was originally designed as a garden city!
''What lovely old rustic homes!'' - Alain Lebègue, bus driver
This trip through industrial landscape lasts no longer than a few minutes at most. Soon, you’ll be in the residential area of Montréal-Est, passing its town hall and other municipal services. You’ll know you’re back in Montréal when the street signs become white once again, starting with 1st Avenue, then 2nd . . . all the way up to 100th! This is Pointe-aux-Trembles, a former municipality annexed by Montréal in 1982. It has retained its old street numbering system, which we must admit is quite practical.
Among the area’s landmark sites are the Parc du Vieux-Moulin between 2nd and 3rd avenues, as well as the Place du Village at the corner of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard (equivalent to the 11th avenue), where you can admire beautiful historic houses. At the very end of De la Rousselière Boulevard (equivalent to the 49th avenue), you can see the Sanctuaire de la Réparation, a legendary site that once had its own streetcar route to bring devotees to its grounds. After 67th Avenue, you’ll pass Pointe-aux-Prairies nature park, which is home to a wide variety of ecosystems.
Where’s the end of the island, you ask? You’re almost there! Long ago, the point was accessible by streetcar and passengers stayed the night at the Bureau Hotel, named after owner Jean-Baptiste Bureau. Today, the streetcar and hotel are no longer, but there is a large park in the area, the aptly named Parc du Bout-de-l’Île (tip-of-the-island park). To reach it, get off the bus at 93th Avenue and walk to 100th. From there, head along Bureau Street until you get to the park. You’ve arrived! Feel the tranquil power of the river and admire Jean-Robert Drouillard’s art installation Trois Cédric, deux corbeaux et un renard, carved from poplar trees cut down due to disease.
To head home, walk around the Notre-Dame/Sherbrooke traffic circle and wait for the 189 on Sherbrooke Street, or walk a little farther to catch the 186, which also goes to Honoré-Beaugrand métro station.