Every Sunday in the summer, the Eastern side of Mont Royal hosts “Tam Tams,” where a number of people gather to play hand drums in and around the monument of Sir George-Etienne Cartier.
I remember the day I moved here, driving by it and wondering what the fuck was going on. Its a very large crowd of extreme eccentrics meet middle class families, and you can hear the beat from literally a mile away. Its been going on since the late 1970s, originating as a workshop on African drumming at a jazz bar on Ontario Street. And has evolved into much more than hand drums. People are encouraged to dance, smoke pot, laze around on blankets, check out hippie vendors, and, for the more brave, participate in a continuous mock medieval battle with foam-padded weapons (see photo above and video below, which I nabbed from my friend Jessica’s blog).
Though not organized in any way by the city, they do intervene in the event, restricting commercial activity to registered members in designated areas and ensuring safety, first-aid, etc. Although initially controversial in light of the event’s communal and countercultural vibe (and permissive attitude towards pot) according to wikipedia as well as my own observations, the police presence has not led to any conflict.