As a native of Côte-Saint-Luc, a municipality of Montreal, I never thought there was anything strange about my neighbourhood.
Sure the mall is overrun with mah-jong playing old ladies and every second apartment building is an old-age home – but aren’t all quiet residential communities like that?
Côte-Saint-Luc is an upper-middle class, suburban, anglophone, predominantly Jewish municipality in Montreal’s west end. It is the third largest municipality on the island of Montreal and boasts 28 parks, a modern library, and a superb recycling and composting program. It also has a total of nine senior-centre homes, total care facilities, and geriatric centres. According to Statistics Canada’s 2001 census, Côte-Saint-Luc is the oldest municipality in Quebec.
The median age in Côte-Saint-Luc in 2001 was 50.5 years compared to 39.6 in the rest of the province. In 2006, Statistics Canada observed that nearly one resident in three (30.2 per cent of the population) was 65 years or older. The proportion of people over the age of 80 was four times the nation average: 13.7 per cent compared with 3.7 percent.
Since women on average live longer than men, the Côte-Saint-Luc community is predominantly female. Statistics Canada listed it as having the third lowest male to female ratio in Canada with 80.6 men to every 100 women. Maybe that explains the predominance of bridge clubs and hair salons.
Though Côte-Saint-Luc is a particularly old municipality, most non-urban centres are noticing a general rise in average age. One explanation (other than the aging baby-boomer population) is that while migrants renew the population of urban areas, many young people in neighbourhoods like Côte-Saint-Luc leave home, and their aging parents, behind.
Although I can see the appeal of picking up and moving to the McGill ghetto, there is something really nice about living in a community of proud grandparents. The pace of life is different here.
That isn’t to say that it’s not busy: from mall walks, to volunteer initiatives, to card games, the senior community is most definitely active. But all of this activity takes place at a different speed than in more youthful communities; there isn’t the same sense of urgency in daily life.
So even though I may complain about the long lines at the pharmacy and all the cheek-pinching and gossip, I love living in a community with such a sense of, well, community – where everyone I run into is my great-aunt’s best friend.
Côte-Saint-Luc seniors are social, and supportive of each other. I only hope that I can grow old in a such a place.