montreal caleche

Montreal is about to ditch its controversial horse-drawn carriages for good

The horse-drawn carriages that have been a staple tourist experience in Old Montreal for decades will soon be no more. 

Come January 1, a city-wide ban will ensure the carriages — also known as "calèches" — are no longer permitted to provide rides on Montreal's streets. 

The city announced the ban back in June of 2018, citing concerns of animal welfare.

A slew of incidents followed the initial announcement, including horses being forced to work in severe weather, a horse that slipped on a metal plate and fell to the ground as well as one that collapsed and died while on the job last November. 

At the time of the horse's death, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said the incident only further convinced her that the calèche industry needed to come to an end. 

Multiple stable and horse owners have spoken out against the ban, with one even filing a last-minute court injunction to try and stop it.

Many have said the ban will result in a major loss of one of the city's historic traditions, and some are also contesting the idea that the horses are mistreated. 

"She was happy to work, that's what people don't know," calèche driver Denis Murray told CBC News of his horse Sissi.

Many are also concerned about their livelihood as well as the loss of "magic" in Old Montreal. 

The city has been running a compensation program for owners since May, offering $1,000 in exchange for the calèche horses.

The city and the SPCA are in turn placing the animals on farms where they can retire from the hard work they've been forced to endure for most of their lives. 

The city has also said it will help calèche owners make the transition to new jobs in the tourism industry.

Lead photo by

Karen Messier

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