Passing through the gateway into Old Noranda means diving headfirst through a mystical mirror and enter into a place where imagination reigns supreme and where a little girl reaching for a piece of sky above Murdoch Avenue, under the avid gaze of a star-grazing crow, reminds you that in this Neighbourhood of Wonders, everything is more than meets the eye.
You pass in the front of an almost 100-year-old church thinking you’re going to pay your respects? Instead, you enter the Agora des Arts, a dynamic and progressive cultural centre. You walk up the steps of the Petit Théâtre expecting a moment of entertainment? You’ll quickly realise that the place is small in name only and that it has nothing to envy the biggest halls. Attracted by its colourful window display, you walk through the doors of Livresse with the idea of reading? Not only are you sure to find a good book, you can also dip your lips in a coffee, a mug of local beer or a glass of wine in this unique bookshop-bar.
Hunger is eating away at you? Before you go mad, visit Chez Morasse, where a crown of French Fries eloquently confirms its title of “best poutine in the world” has never been usurped. Would you prefer a little indulgence? The Twin Kiss ice cream parlour will melt you in pleasure with its varied favour choices. Would you rather take a break from everyday life? Let yourself gently slip into the subdued atmosphere at the Jardin Spa with its hammam worthy of a “Thousand and One Nights”.
Old Noranda is also an opportunity to leapfrog between specialised boutiques that each in their own way offer extraordinary charms unique not only to the city, but often throughout the region. Between each shop, variety awaits to prolong the enjoyment; an art gallery, a dance school and much more will welcome you behind their quasi-centennial brick facades which testify to the origins of this National Copper Capital.
Every detour, every glance, every step is a constant reminder that in this neighbourhood, art is everywhere. It is impossible not to be in awe of the murals that adorn the austere walls, guaranteeing dazzling rainbows even in the dead of winter. It’s also impossible not to smile with pleasure at the two guitarists who, forged in the metal that saw the birth of Rouyn-Noranda, play a divine melody whose pulse will echo in your mind for a long time
If after all these marvels, you are still not seduced, Old Noranda will offer you a last chance at the Cabaret of the same name (Cabaret de la Dernière Chance), a mythical temple of song and brew that has seen, over the course of its close to 40 years of existence, talents from the fringe as well as some of the biggest names perform in an exceptional intimate atmosphere.
As you leave the neighbourhood, on the shores of Osisko Lake with its water so full of history, you can’t help but smile broadly as you remember all the experiences that Old Noranda has shown you. A smile which, like that of a certain cat from Wonderland, will remain on your face long after you have returned home.