MONTREAL – Montrealers consider Parc Mount-Royal the city’s backyard – enough so that this year a clean-up volunteer found a garden gnome planted there, with gardening tools and a watering can nearby.
Over the years, that’s not the strangest thing that people have uncovered on the mountain – one year, volunteers found a pile of golf balls by the cross atop the mountain, likely evidence that someone was practicing his swing with them. And the amount of trash that collects can seem overwhelming.
“It’s actually gotten better over the years,” said Gabrielle Korn, of Les Amis de la Montagne, who organizes the volunteer spring cleanup on the mountain known as ‘La Corvee.’ “When we started the corvee, we’d find old tires, old fridges, and all kinds of debris.”
Even though the weather this year was lousy — constant, steady rain — Korn said more than 500 volunteers showed up for the event.
“I think the attachment to the mountain and the pride that people feel here is strong enough that even on a day like today you put on your wellies and put in a few hours,” she said.
Trash is separated and much of it is recycled. A lot of it adds up over the active summer season and is then covered by snow in the winter. The annual cleanup has the effect of polishing the mountain off before hordes of runners, cyclists and tourists descend on it.
“Rain or shine I feel like I have to make an impact,” said Sebastian Ricoult, a volunteer. “I have to contribute to this great place.”