The silence of horses’ hooves will be heard loudly throughout Old Montreal and the city at large this summer; Montreal mayoral chair moistener Denis Coderre has, in his infinite wisdom, decided to ban Montreal’s traditional horse-drawn Caleches from operating for the duration of 2016.
Not only does this mean several hundred men and women are going to be out of a job in what is an already very poor economy, but it also means that several stable owners, like the one mentioned in the article above, will be forced out of business.
And while his horses will be fortunate enough to be relocated, take heart social justice warriors and “animal rights” avengers: MANY OF THE HORSES FROM OTHER STABLES WILL BE SLAUGHTERED, because the owners / operators cannot afford to care for the animals, and selling a horse isn’t like selling a used car or a condo. But, fuck THOSE horses, amiright?
What spurred this moratorium? Last season a typically negligent Quebec motorist drove their car into a caleche horse. The result, of course, the sort of mass hysteria about animal cruelty that led to a lot of biased, discredited blog posts about animal cruelty and animal welfare, and Montreal’s infinite supply of outraged social justice warriors calling for a ban on the horse-drawn carriages, which have become synonymous with Montreal’s Old City, and the Old Port.
I can think of moments romantic, familial, and simply memorable spent in the back of one of these carriages, the horse or horses serenely plodding along…let us not forget: thousands of years of selective breeding have given us the horse as a companion animal and a draught animal; up until the last century and a half, we have relied on horses to do far more than just haul around obese American tourists.
What’s worse, this is part of another long-standing, ongoing Montreal tradition: muscling out the little guy. Now that I’m far removed from music journalism, I can speak about the fact that I was working on a piece, before I left the magazine for personal reasons, about how through the over use of fines against smaller, established music venues in and around the downtown core, they were literally paving the way for, other than a few larger, stronger clubs, most acts being forced out of Montreal, or into the city’s new Quartier Des Spectacles.
Just ask Uber, a peer-to-peer ride-sharing app, how things are going in Montreal.
And now, they’ve put a “moratorium” on caleche operations in the city for a year. Just a year. You know…just long enough for the small stables to go under, the bigger stables to cement their hold on the market, other operators to move in, either redevelop the stable sites and gentrify away another part of Montreal’s spirit, or put more money into the city’s coffers.
The older I get, the less I recognize my city.