I never thought I would end up in Brossard. Now it’s my little downtown extension

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This first-person article is the experience of Thea Cruz, singer and event planner in Brossard, Quebec. For more information on CBC’s first-person stories, please visit the FAQ.

For most of my life, Montreal was the only city I knew. From parks to potholes, from the Old Port to C̫te-des-Neiges, downtown to NDG, this was my city Рborn and raised. I loved it so much that I never thought I would even consider getting out of it. It was convenient and everything was close by. The suburb seemed so far away.

My friends would call the South Shore the “dark side”, the place no one would dare go. The bridge is always full of traffic, I was told. There is nothing to do, it is too far, the bus is different and expensive. Everything I heard on the South Shore made me feel like it was a bad place, a place not for me. But let me demystify some of these perceptions for you.

The Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge is not that bad – traffic in Montreal on the Décarie or the Metropolitan is much worse, and we also have other bridges to get to the island. And it’s not far at all! It takes about 21 minutes by bus to get to downtown Montreal, and the bus even has its own lane during rush hour. Yes, the bus is different, but a one-way ticket costs the same.

I’ve learned that once you live here, those images of a “dark side” quickly disappear.

Thea sings in a live performance from her Brossard home. (Submitted by Thea Cruz)

In 2014 my husband and I went looking for new accommodation. He was working in the Saint-Laurent borough at the time, and I was a 22-year-old stay-at-home mom and a struggling artist. We were looking everywhere – the West Island, LaSalle, Laval, etc., we were looking. But we never considered turning to Brossard until my real estate broker and a few members of my family and friends suggested it. I hesitated, but I thought there was nothing to lose by just watching, right?

I fell in love with the area as we walked through it. DIX30 was like a Canadian Beverly Hills to me. No potholes, and free parking everywhere! Plus there was an amazing school district for my little man. So we made an offer for a condo, and the optimist in me said if it was meant to be, it will be.

After seven years here, I don’t think I’ll ever leave this city. I went from a city girl to a suburban housewife, with the space to run a home music business. My husband and I were able to set up an entire live video studio upstairs on our mezzanine. I can sing live from the comfort of my home, bringing joy to my friends and family during these long confinements.

I am definitely a homebody. I love staying at home, watching Netflix, and having a nice drink or (or more) of wine. But when I go out, I do whatever I want – and I don’t have to cross the bridge to do it. In DIX30, there are a few places that give you that downtown bar and lounge feel. Personally, I love going to Dirty D, where the food is tasty and affordable, and their sangria is to die for. It’s a favorite for date nights and going out with the girls while staying close to home.

With places to eat, drink and go out in Brossard, Thea doesn’t feel like visiting downtown Montreal that often. (Charles Contant / CBC)

If you love food there is definitely a variety to choose from on the shore. To name a few, 1930s Shanghai has some amazing soup dumplings, Kimpo is a Korean barbecue place bring your own wine right next to a SAQ, ImpacTaco is the closest to a taco in Mexico and Phở MC is the best Vietnamese Soup and Banh mi. For Chinese food, Papa Jackie’s is one of my top choices. They have this amazing lobster and crab tour, and it’s bring your own wine too.

At the community level, I have never felt so taken care of by my neighbors. We even have a Facebook group for my area, and if we need anything we can just ask. My son once had a really bad allergic reaction and I couldn’t afford to go to the store to take an antihistamine. An amazing nurse answered me, and within 10 minutes she was at my doorstep with Children’s Benadryl.

Last winter our community neighborhood hosted a Christmas parade with decorated cars for the kids. The parade ended in my backyard, where we hosted a socially distant concert. As my husband is a DJ / sound technician and I am a singer, we played from our balcony and streamed to our Facebook group. Lights, speakers all over the nine meters just to entertain the amazing people in my community during the tough times.

It’s strange to think that I was one of those people who, for so long, never considered Brossard a great place to live. I have now done a 360 on this – Brossard is my place. As a city dweller, it feels like our little extension of downtown Montreal.


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