Calèches roll out in Old Montreal for last time before ban

Old Montreal's calèche drivers talk of the friendship they feel for their horses ahead of the one-year ban imposed by the city.

Owners describe sadness ahead of the year-long moratorium

Calèches driver Michel Boisvert says its difficult for outsiders to understand the companionship that drivers develop with their horses. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

Old Montreal's calèche owners are taking their horses out for the last time ahead of a one-year ban that takes effect on Tuesday.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre imposed a moratorium on the popular tourist attraction citing concerns about the welfare of the horses. He wants tighter rules drawn up for calèche operators before letting them back on the streets.

The concerns were prompted by a number of accidents involving the horses. One collided with a car in Griffintown last month, though wasn't seriously injured. 


Calèche owners plan to protest the ban in front of City Hall on Tuesday. They are expected to seek a court injunction over the coming days.  

"[I'm] feeling terrible, and feeling down," said Luc Desparois, who owns around 20 horses used by calèche drivers. "I'm feeling all the worst things you can imagine. Everyone's been crying."

Desparois and other operators say the concerns about the welfare of the horses don't reflect the bonds they develop with the animals. 

"The horses are our friends," he said. "We don't want to get rid of our friends."

Michel Boisvert, who has been driving a calèche 30 years, spoke of the bond that drivers develop with their horses.  

"You have to be working in this job to understand the companionship we have," Boisvert said. 

The City of Montreal is trying to find temporary shelter for the horses. But that has done little to appease their owners.

"We don't want to put them in somebody's hands we don't trust," Desparois said.

Mayor Denis Coderre has imposed a one-year moratorium on Montreal's calèches. It goes into effect tomorrow. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)