Montreal’s Peace Park is the first public park in the world where skateboarding has been legalized; but that wasn’t always the case.
Today, on the 24th anniversary of the inauguration of the park, David Bouthillier, known to many as “Boots”, is releasing his full-length film Peace Park Documentary to celebrate the history of this skate sanctuary.
When Boots began collecting footage of Peace Park in the early nineties, he had no plans of creating a documentary. But when a car accident left him with a busted ankle, he found himself spending more and more time at the Park, taking in all there was to see. Over the years, Boots came to know the local characters, from skaters and homeless people, to addicts, and sex workers, who come together create the landscape of Peace Park. In this documentary, Boots gives a platform to those who are often overlooked, sharing their stories in a way that leaves nothing, and I mean nothing, off the table.
The film offers viewers a journey through the history of Peace Park and the surrounding area, combining the political, the historical, and the cultural, to show every aspect that crafted the Park into what it is today. It features interviews with those who call the Park home, contrasted with classic footage from as far back as the 30’s, painting a detailed picture of everything the city has been through. The mecca of Montreal street skating, Peace Park has a violent and disturbing past, yet is somehow still a sanctuary to skaters from all over the world.
Peace Park Documentary, is real. Painfully real. Though it may look like chaos from the outside, this film takes an in depth look at the tolerance and coexistence that anchor the Park, providing a sense of belonging to those within its community. This isn’t a skate video. This is a raw look at the history of a landmark so central to Montreal street skating that it has created living legends, and made the Montreal skate scene what it is today.
Peace Park Documentary is arguably the movie that saved skateboarding. When Boots teamed up with The SAT in 2004, they began the battle to legalize skateboarding in the Park. They knew that skaters enriched the area, bringing both positivity and balance to Peace Park and that the pushing-out of skaters needed to be stopped. When the documentary was completed in 2013, The SAT premiered the film at Peace Park, organizing a massive event featuring skate contests, free food, and musical performances. It was an incredibly successful event, with over 1000 people in attendance.
Because Boots’ documentary depicted Peace Park as the heart and soul of skateboarding in Montreal, city officials’ attitudes toward skating began to change. After holding several more successful skate events in the Park, Boots and the SAT were finally able to announce that skateboarding in Peace Park had been legalized. This documentary is a piece of Canadian skate culture, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to check it out.
The full documentary is available here.
It is crucial to support the work of film makers like Boots, because his message still has a long way to go. Sadly, Peace Park is falling apart, and money raised will go toward DYP repairs to save the tiles from falling off, holding community events, and further documenting the Park. If you’re ready to show your love and support for Peace Park and the Montreal skate scene, click here to donate.
Boots, on behalf of skaters all over Canada, thank you for sharing this story with us.
All Photos © Dan Mathieu