Ⓜ️ Station Stories: Peel

Welcome to a series where we visit stations, just for fun. Most of the stations we see will be in Greater Montreal simply due to the fact that’s my proximity, but don’t count out a few surprising stations from further afield!

The iconic circle and downward arrow denotes one of Peel's many entrances at street level

I think the Montreal Metro has some of the most architecturally interesting and varied subway stations in the world. Whilst perhaps not as grandiose as Moscow nor as polished as Stockholm, Montreal’s naturally gritty nature comes alive in its fantastic Metro architecture. Peel station on the Metro’s Green Line is a perfect example of this in action.

An eastbound train pulls in

Like many of the downtown Metro stations, Peel doesn’t have its own station building, instead being connected to parts of the underground city and with multiple exits at street level. If you’re in Montreal as a visitor, it’s likely this will be one of several central stations you use to explore the city.

A wider view of the platform as passengers wait for their train

A long shot down the platform

Descending to the mezzanine level via one of its many entrances you’ll find ticket gates at either end of a walkway suspended directly above the platform. Coming in is easy, but when exiting you’ll need to know which way you want to go before passing the gate-line or else you can end up on the wrong side of the station and have to go above ground to backtrack. This is a problem compounded by the symmetrical nature of the station’s design. You’ll need to pay attention to signage as the station design itself isn’t conducive to instinctual way-finding. Several of the downtown stations suffer from this, although none have the nightmarish rotational symmetry of Berri-UQAM.

The exit from the mezzanine up to street level

Looking down from the mezzanine into the cavernous platform space

The architecture is wonderful – if you like brutalism of course. Angular concrete pillars appear to float above the ground and beneath the ceiling, with the mezzanine connected in between. Each end of the lower level gives way to a cavernous roof. The tunnel mouths are framed by wide rectangular facades giving a sense of purpose to the typically barren ends of a platform.

Looking down the tunnel towards Guy-Concordia station

One of the station's several corridors

The mezzanine floats above the platform supported by concrete pillars

A gaze down the escalator to the maze of corridors which connect to the mezzanine

A view across the tracks

Throughout the station are beautiful ceramic circles designed by Jean-Paul Mousseau, a Quebec artist perhaps best known for his work in Peel station. The walls of the platforms are adorned with wide benches and backed by playfully lit colour spheres inspired by the station’s larger ceramic globes.

The gorgeous ceramic circles designed by Jean-Paul Mousseau

The theme of circles is present above the station seating

Another long shot down the platform

More ceramic circles which you'll find all over the station, each one unique

Stairs bring passengers up from the mezzanine level to an escalator leading to the station exit

In terms of railway infrastructure, there’s nothing special worth noting. Peel sits on a stretch of line between McGill and Guy Concordia, and evidently the distance from McGill to Peel is the shortest between two stations on the network, a fact validated by the ability to see the entrance to McGill station whilst standing above ground at the Peel station exit. Between the two stations is a crossover allowing for turn-backs during periods of disruption.

A westbound train pulls in

One of the larger ceramic circles

The name of the station derives from Sir Robert Peel, the 19th century British Prime Minister who founded London’t Metropolitan Police. As a result, he lends his name to the “Bobbies”, a colloquial term for police in the UK.

A closeup of the tiling pattern present across the station

Connecting concrete pillars support the mezzanine and brace the roof whilst looking visually pleasing

Look up and you'll see even the ceilings have patterns embedded in concrete

Montreal’s Green Line has plenty of brutalism to consume, but most is found on the stations at the line’s extremities. Peel is an example of some downtown Metro brutalism, so if you’re looking for a quick fix make sure you pay it a visit.

The Ratings

For fun, let’s arbitrarily rate the station across eight categories. Ratings go from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest):

  • Layout: 4️⃣ – Although the various entrances can be confusing, the station layout has a floating mezzanine with the platforms visible below. Escalators and stairs come off the sides of the mezzanine down to platform level. It’s intuitive once you’ve made it into the station but the station’s symmetry will mean you need to pay attention to signs lest you accidentally end up on the wrong platform.
  • Services: 4️⃣ – As with the rest of the Green Line, you’ll rarely have to wait long for a train meaning you can just turn up and go.
  • Destinations: 3️⃣ – There’s just the Green Line at this station, so unless your final destination is on the same line, you’ll need to make a connection somewhere. Surface transport is pretty much nonexistent, so even to make a bus connection you’ll need to walk or make a connection elsewhere.
  • Architecture: 4️⃣ – Some impressive brutalism at play here, especially the mezzanine which almost appears to be floating in space.
  • Amenities: 3️⃣ – The dépanneurs facing each ticket gate provide a convenient place to pick up drinks and snacks. Like much of the Metro, Peel fails to provide toilets, but there are some available within the adjacent underground city if you know where to look.
  • Accessibility: 1️⃣ – This station is about as inaccessible as they come. There’s not a single elevator from the surface down to the ticket gates, nor down to platform level. And even then, from what I could see all the access points from the underground city involve steps. Nearby McGill is a far better option.
  • Safety and Cleanliness: 3️⃣ – The station is clean, but suffers from vagrancy, especially at the entrances and the extremities of the platforms. Whilst the station is busy enough to feel safe in general and kept clean, some passengers may nevertheless feel unsafe in some situations. Sadly this is an issue at most Metro stations.
  • Locality: 5️⃣ – Excellent connections to the underground city, local business and office buildings. Sainte-Catherine Street is a block away at street level and walk one block north to discover the delightful McTavish Street with access to the mountain and McGill University.

The impressive pedestrianised McTavish Street is one block north of Peel Station, and a gateway to the mountain.

Tier List

Peel kicks off our station tier list with a solid “B”! Beautiful architecture and decent service, but a failure in accessibility brings it down.

If you want to learn more about Peel station:

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