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Outdoor exhibit reveals a flaneur's view of Montreal in the 1920s, '30s

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MONTREAL - A stroll this summer along McGill College Avenue in downtown Montreal may provide a sense of what it was like to be a "flaneur" in the city in times past.

The McCord Museum is displaying 25 works by the early 20th-century Canadian photographer Harry Sutcliffe along a one-block section of the route, between President Kennedy Avenue and Boulevard de Maisonneuve.

The photographs, enlarged from postcard size and mounted on panels, reveal something of the everyday atmosphere of Montreal's parks and squares in the 1920s and '30s.

"In some photos you see people in the parks sitting on a bench, just looking, just being quiet," says H�l�ne Samson, the show's curator. There are also families in canoes and children on bicycles.

This is the first exhibition devoted to the little-known photographer, who died in 1942, says Samson.

The British-born Sutcliffe specialized in making postcards, says Samson. He was also a flaneur, she says — a fact highlighted in the show's French title: "Harry Sutcliffe — Fl�neur dans Montr�al" (translated to English as "Sutcliffe — Strolling Through Montreal").

"It's the idea of taking time to walk in the city and just enjoy spontaneously what you can discover," says Samson.

With the quicker pace of life today and people focused on their smartphones, this may be something of a lost activity, she suggests. "Do we still stroll in the city just for the sake of it?"

The works on display were selected from a recent donation of 2,000 of Sutcliffe's photographs to the McCord by his great-grandson.

The exhibition, the McCord's ninth annual outdoor summer photography show, runs until mid-October.

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