Category Archives: Canada

Downtown Casa by night


Je me suis inspirée d’une vidéo du photographe québécois Dominic Boudreault, qui montre des images de villes nord-américaines, et j’ai voulu partager cette photo.

C’est une pose de 8 secondes prise par mon amie Jeannette. Le dernier soir de sa visite au Maroc, on s’est pris un verre en haut de la tour de l’Hotel Kenzi (une des tours du Twin Center). Du matin au soir, on peut commander un café, un verre, ou un repas hors prix histoire de profiter de la vue panoramique de la ville. (La bannière de Petit à Petit vient d’une photo que j’avais prise du haut de la tour Kenzi.) On trouve exactement la même combine en haut de la tour John Hancock à Chicago.

Il faut dire que si je m’intéresse aux différentes conceptions de l’urbanité autour du monde, je suis au fond une nord-américaine urbaine qui s’attache aux gratte-ciels et qui se retrouve émue face aux perspectives dramatiques des centrevilles verticaux.

I was inspired by the work of Quebecois motion photographer Dominic Boudreault‘s timelapse video of North American city skylines to post this picture.

It’s an 8-second exposure taken by a dear friend, Jeannette. On the last night of her visit to Morocco we had a drink at the top of the Kenzi Tower hotel (one of the towers of the Twin Center). Day or night, one can order extremely overpriced coffee, drinks, or even meals for the privilege of enjoying a panoramic view of the city. Exactly like the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock in Chicago. (The banner of Petit à Petit is from a picture I took from the Kenzi Tower restaurant.)

Although I love to explore different conceptions of “the city,” I am at heart a North-American urbanite with an emotional attachment to skyscrapers and the dramatic views of those dense, high-reaching skylines.

The video in question features amazing views of Montreal, Chicago, Toronto, and Québec.

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Filed under American culture, architecture, Canada, Casablanca, Chicago, urban life

Casa to Montreal


The Casablanca Mechoui restaurant in Sidi Belyout:

And right across the street…

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Filed under Canada, Casablanca, globalisation, Québec

Je m’en irais à Montréal?


I am still recovering from the trip I made a few weeks ago, which started with a drive to Pittsburgh for my Ambassadorial Scholars training

Phase II of my road trip was in Montréal, via Buffalo (where I stayed with friends, who helped me out when I managed to lock my keys inside the rental car). I cut my trip to Montréal short by a couple of days when I was reminded, at the last minute, that I had to make it back to the Chicago area in time for the Rotary District Conference (Phase III–update to come).

So, sadly I couldn’t make it to le Petit Maghreb, as I’d hoped I might.

I spent most most of my three-day visit meeting with current and former students and faculty of a few urban studies and urban planning programs in Montréal. I’ve been shopping around for a Masters program, probably for Fall 2011. This Ambassadorial Scholarship business has put me in the habit of planning things far in advance…

Why Montréal? Aren’t there great programs in the U.S., even in Chicago?

On a personal level, the bilingual French-English environment feels like home for me. Purists will say that Montréal is not “true Québec” because so much of the city is anglophone, but I love that mix.

I really appreciate how cosmopolitan the city is, on several levels. First of all I think a society where people speak several languages is automatically less insular. (Oh hi there, Tim James.)

Second of all, Canada’s relatively progressive immigration policy, combined with the strong and vibrant francophone culture in Québec, means that Montréal is the destination for immigrants from all over the francophone world. Haitians, North Africans, the Lebanese, Francophone Africans, the Vietnamese all have a strong presence in Montréal. I don’t have sufficient background information about Montréal to comment too much on its immigrants or the multi-ethnic character of the city, although this is a topic that really interests me. I do know that the result is a society that is very different from both the U.S. and France (those two countries being my frame of reference). It’s fascinating to look at immigration, and how it shapes a city, through a different lens.

Which brings me to my next point: Yes, Chicago would be a great place to continue my studies in urban sociology. In fact I’m pretty sure that part of the reason why I’ve been attracted to the cluster of topics that make up “urban studies” has been because the literature in the U.S. so often focuses on my hometown. This is a problem! First of all, as someone who’s grown up with each foot in a different continent and country, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. Second of all, it’s much more intellectually stimulating to step into a different context, as a way of shedding light on and challenging the assumptions that I’ve picked up and taken as universal truths.

This is also my reasoning for going to Casablanca to look at urban issues. I’m hoping I’ll get to better understand not just what’s going on there in terms of urban development, but also how people conceptualize “urban development.”

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Filed under Canada, Immigration, Montreal, Québec, Travel, urban development

le Petit Maghreb à Montréal


In a couple of weeks I’ll be in Montréal to see my sister and visit one of my all-time favorite cities.

There’s a large Moroccan and Moroccan-Canadian population in Montreal. (Gad Elmaleh is a famous–and hilarious–Moroccan with close ties to Québec)
I’ve been looking for places to visit and found this article on Yabiladi.com: Canada : Les Maghrébins de Montréal ont leur quartier.

Anglophones can get more information in an article that reeks of a newspaper travel section-ese: A slice of North Africa: Petit Maghreb, along a stretch of Jean Talon Blvd. E., is where the Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian communities share the comforts of home.

Here’s my favorite line from that last article: “Now though, the street boasts…a Moroccan restaurant that specializes in tagines and couscous.” I have to chuckle because, well, there are few Moroccan dishes other than tagine and couscous. (not that those aren’t delicious…)

Years of lobbying by North African-Canadian businesspeople and cultural organizations have culminated in the official naming of “le Petit Maghreb,” a neighborhood that sits high on my list of places to visit when I’m not gorging myself on a Paris-Brest and cheeses so delicious they’re illegal in the U.S.

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Filed under Canada, Gad Elmaleh, Immigration, Montreal, Moroccan food, Travel