The Montreal skyline comes alive during the summer nights with an enormous amount of festivals, parades and celebrations such as, the Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs, Pride Parade and International Fireworks Competition. People come from all over the world hoping to party like a rock star till the wee hours of the morning.
During the daytime, tourists marvel at the beautiful 15th Century French architecture and walk along the cobblestone streets in Old Montreal hoping to find the best table in some quaint European style restaurant. While the experience is quite fabulous and definitely not to be missed, the truth is, tourists rarely get to experience the true backbone and culture of the city because they rarely venture farther than the downtown core.
This is unfortunate because the real heart of the city lies in its Burroughs.
Each district offers a unique culture vibe of its own created from the mixing of the local heritage and what you might experience in one neighbourhood you will likely not find in another.
If you live or have lived in the Southwest part of the city you probably already know that during the last few weeks of July there are a number of weekend sporting events that bring current and past residents out in masses.
In Verdun there is the Adult Soccer Tournament and in Pte. Ste. Charles there is the Wish Foundation Softball tournament. Both of these are annual events that raise funds for local children's charities.
These tournaments are held over a weekend and are so popular, many families plan their vacation time during them. It does not matter whether you live in Ontario, Quebec or clear across the nation, when it is time to raise money for children and play a good old fashioned sports game, the heart of a Montreal Hero beats in the southwest.
Neighbours by location, heritage and blood, Verdun and Pte.St Charles residents have been close rivals for several generations and while things have not changed much, the rivalry they are now experiencing is all in good clean fun.
I was lucky enough to have attended the Verdun Soccer tournament that took placed last weekend and I am hoping to attend the Wish Tournament coming up in a week's time.
Like many of the old timers, I can no longer play in the tournament, but I still attend each year to show my support, meet up with old friends and help raise money.
What I enjoy most about the weekend is that for 4 or 5 days every summer I get to experience Montreal as a tourist and remind myself of the beautiful place where I came from. I was born and raised in SouthWest Montreal and no matter how long its been or how far away I am, when I come back for the tournament, it always feels like home.
The Southwest is and always was considered one of the poorest districts in Montreal, however you would be hard pressed to believe that considering the generosity that is displayed during these two events.
I suppose it isn't hard to imagine what makes a Montreal hero - people who do not have much to give - but still do because they have not forgotten where they came from and how another Montreal hero helped them to become one.