Updated: Oct 7, 2018
I return to see Tony to discuss storing bike wheels while I ponder my sketches and plans to use them. He says it is fine to leave them there but to be careful of the scrapers. He is very warm and welcoming as we start to talk about his business, his life and the city.
As we stand there chatting under the shade of the trees that cool off his outdoor work area, I ask him about the location of his garage. I am fascinated by how the indoor and outdoor space merge. There are no boundaries between the edge of the Chemin Vert, the municipal park, and the garage: his shop feels like it is part of the park. He says, indeed, he planted several trees that are on municipal property. This would be years ago when it was a wild and forgotten zone along the train tracks; only the locals enjoyed it as their backyards and gardens. Tony has been working here for over 45 years.
The conversation then turns to stories of his life. He tells me about his hometown in San Pietro where the famous battle took place during the Second World War, stories of the era and the village including history behind the documentary film directed by John Huston. He moved to Montreal when he was 12 and attended school right around the corner on St-Viateur and St-Laurent.
Tony comes across as a modest man in his worker’s blue shirt with his strong crafters hands prominent beyond his rolled up cuffs, yet he is a well known organizer in the Canadian Italian community. His calm, social and engaged demeanour from the start struck me as someone who likes people and is a leader.
He suggests I take a look at what he throws out that may of use for my project. I sense an understanding of the value of the materials, and an interest in someone wanting to do something with them. On this earth ground lot (yes, no asphalt!), where the cars are parked in different stages of repair, there is a corner of stuff to recycle: metal hoods, glass windows and bumpers. Like all parts outside of the context of their whole, they are strange and unique to themselves. Their curvy shapes, shine have got my attention.
As I discuss with him my curiosity in his materials and where I am in my process and my search for space to work, he immediately offers that I work next to them outdoors. There is their lot and the alley both with ample space to begin experimenting. And bonus, there is electricity- I just need a 15 meter extension cord.
I am overjoyed to have a temporary workplace. It is within 125 meters , so within the zone it was targeting, it is outside (on what may be the warmest fall yet), and it is with this crew of hands on, resourceful and welcoming workers.
And who could resist an invitation by Apollo, patron leader of the Muses.