July 20, 2019 5:46 pm
Updated: August 1, 2019 12:57 pm

City of Laval offers walking tours of one of its oldest neighbourhoods

WATCH: Laval has invited residents to take part in a heritage tour in old Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. As Global's Billy shields reports there's local history hidden in plain sight.

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the walking tours were free. The error has been corrected.

Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in eastern Laval is marked by cute homes and the occasional crank — dressed in tails in the middle of a hot July.

The costumes are part of a walking tour currently offered by the city in the area.

On Saturday, about a dozen brave souls went on the tour of one of Laval’s oldest neighbourhoods.

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“It’s a place with a lot of secrets,” said Valérie Gagnon-Laniel, a tour guide.

One of those secrets: Canada’s second prison lies in the area.

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Actor Philippe Gobeille plays three characters in the story of the former town. One of them is master sculptor Vincent Chartrand.

“It’s an anonymous character but it’s the guy who takes care of the ground around the church,” Gobeille explained. “And then after that, we move forward in time where I’m a young student who goes to College Laval.”

Those taking the tour learn about the church of the same name as the neighbourhood, hearing rumours about its past.

They also go to the city hall that served the area before it became part of Laval. The mayor would address people from the balcony.

The people in the area may get a bit more than they expected, too.

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“I have to walk in the streets and I meet people who are not aware there is something going on. So I have to say hi, in costume, which is very hilarious,” Gobeille told Global News.

The tour makes use of props to tell the story of the area, which intertwines Laval and Montreal history in a one-block radius.

“On the way, we find some papers with some clues on where to go after. So I guess that’s my favourite part,” Gagnon-Laniel said.

“Pretty impressive. Very entertaining also. Kind of short, though,” said Jessy Bergeron Dallayre, who lives in the area. Given the heat, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

The tours, which seem to win the audience over, are in French. The schedule is on Laval’s website.

Watch: Haunted walking tour in Montreal

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