No, It’s Not Actually Made Of Ice

I’m not a location scout. But last month I felt it was my duty to make an excursion out to a couple of obscure Montreal locales to snap photos for the benefit of the Irish half of the Paddy Whacking development team.

They’d come over recently to debate the merits of the material as it stood at that time and do some research, but our tour of the city’s underbelly failed to include two key locations. Both figure prominently in the story, and I was compelled to share a virtual tour with them so we would all know what we were writing about.

The Black Rock is a monument to the Irish immigrants who died on the fever ships on their way to a new life in North America during the potato famine. Thousands perished after arriving in Quebec, as did many here who tried to care for them through this epidemic. The rock is placed in the middle of what used to be the cemetery where so many of the victims were buried. Currently the penultimate scene of the series is set there during an official gathering of the local Irish community. Depending on when the shoot happens however, I would never be surprised to see this same scene relocated to take advantage of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the largest in North America. We’ll just have to see when the time comes, but until then, here are some photos of a corner of the city even most locals have probably never seen.Always place your monuments in the middle of a busy streetBe sure to advertise your company when honouring the deadJust in case you forgot it was Irish

I felt it was particularly important for me to make it out to the ice bridge because we have pivotal scenes set there at the beginning and end of the series. All sorts of nefarious goings on happen, at least in our fictional world, out on that barren stretch of pavement that stretches over the St. Lawrence. If you’re familiar with this, the most obscure bridge off the island of Montreal, it’s probably because you’ve crossed it in its context as a foot and bike path. There’s enough space for vehicles to get on, but only city vehicles are authorized to do so for maintenance purposes (specifically to change the bulbs in the lights, I imagine). Its actual function is to break up the ice flow coming down the river in winter, before it hits the bigger and much more expensive Champlain Bridge.

That’s about all I know about the ice bridge. What I didn’t know was that it’s closed to foot and bicycle traffic in winter. Which is why I had to break in to get these shots. Although I’m happy to commit a misdemeanor in the name of fair and accurate screenwriting, I was hardly alone in doing so. There was already a convenient hole torn in the wire fence at the top of a muddy embankment, allowing awkward but reliable access to those who would not be deterred from crossing at any time of the year. Indeed, I passed several joggers and bike riders as a strolled from one side to the other and back again, firing off shot after shot of bland industrial architecture. I won’t bore you with all of them, but these should give you a sense of what it’s like out over the river in February.Champlain Bridge left, ice bridge rightShot through the locked gatesOn the bridge after minor scrapes and cutsA view of the real bridge from the lesser bridgeA chunk of ice makes it through to the ChamplainHeading back to Nun's Island as the sun sets

The most interesting thing to occur on my tour happened when I heard a slow, steady crashing noise on one side of the bridge. I ran over in time to see a huge sheet of ice breaking apart on one of the supports. Only moments later, another sheet came bearing down on the same spot, so I whipped out my camera and grabbed these action shots showing exactly what an ice bridge does during a Canadian winter.Look out!Crack!Sploosh!The ice bridge earns its keep

In other news (at least in news I find interesting), The Passion of the Christ is getting recut and reissued. The new edit of the movie is supposed to remove six minutes of violence so as to make it a more family-friendly snuff film. I doubt the tinkering will end there since, these days, no cut of a movie is the final cut. The director has had his cut. This, I suppose, is the marketer’s cut. The producers will probably have another stab at it. And eventually we can all look forward to the caterer’s cut with plenty of missing Last Supper footage reinserted.

I’m sure, as the years go by, more violence will be deleted with each subsequent release, and eventually the film will be:


Judas fingers Jesus. Jesus is busted.


Children hunt for Easter eggs.


This will be convenient to all those who like their pop culture salvation to come in three-minute doses. Sure, we want to be saved, but does it really have to kill and entire afternoon? Me, I think I’ll stick to my own particular brand of religious cinema. If people can find the Lord in a piece of toast, I can go looking for him here.

And before I sign off, I’ll point you all at the movie night minutes, which is up to date for the first time in months. Go make snide comments at my expense. That’s what the forum is for.

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