Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen and Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
Gabriel: My name is Gabriel Laduke, part owner of No Damn Good Skatepark.
Rob: I’m Robert Barnes, same thing.
How did you get involved with the skate scene? When did you start skating?
Rob: I was 11 in 1976 with a plastic board and a plastic baseplate on the trucks.
Gabriel: I remember I had an older cousin when I was a kid and he had an old school board. I started riding that for fun but I didn’t really start skating until I was 16.
When did skating become more than just a pastime? When did it change to a passion?
Rob: Pretty much immediately for me.
Gabriel: It’s always been there.
Rob: It has kind of faded here and there due to family and obligations at times, but it’s definitely back in full force.
Gabriel had a skatepark and he was looking for a reason to get back into it, once that skatepark had folded – it was a huge project and too hard to sustain at the time. I used to skate there and I suffered a loss and Le Taz was closed for like seven years. When it reopened, it was pretty much a big kid fest and it was too far from the Metro. We started looking for a location to build a small skatepark and maybe get some guys to build a half pipe. We saw the space and it was for a pretty good price
and then it led to this.
Please tell us about the name of this skatepark.
Gabriel: NDG is the neighbourhood and it is a tongue-in-cheek joke from the old schoolers. Anyone who has lived here will know the joke.
Rob: NDG stands for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – it’s the official neighbourhood name, but No Damn Good was just fun – we wanted to do the opposite and make it a really dope park. I think that was your idea, right?
Rob: I like that.
Why did you choose an indoor spot rather than an outdoor spot? In BC, it’s predominantly outdoor parks.
Gabriel: It’s Montreal. It’s minus 30 in the winter, plus three feet of snow.
Rob: There are a lot of outdoor parks already so we need an indoor place to go to. It’s not like BC where it just rains all year long. Here, it snows six months of the year so you can’t go outside.
Gabriel: There are some hardcore guys, like Barry Walsh, who would shovel out the snow and the Olympic Stadium Pipe, but I’m not that patient.
How do you fit with the community other than just provide a place to skate?
Gabriel: Right now, we’re just trying to establish our name and business – we’ve only been operating since November of 2009 –
Rob: AKA, barely survive.
Gabriel: We’re pretty stoked for what’s to come. We have a couple guys that we sponsor but we’re not taking it seriously until the business is ready to.
Rob: We make the park free for the whole summer so kids and other people come by. It’s a private business but it’s really the skate community that comes together and puts us up. Everybody knows that we’re not in this to make a million dollars. It’d be great but we’re just happy to have a place to skate. This started out as just a place to skate but it’s becoming something more. We’re trying not to be greedy about it and everyone knows that.
Coming into the store, there is a wide range of brands. How do you select which brands to carry?
Gabriel: We basically work with brands that we want to support. I don’t want to be one of those shops that carry everything. I am really specific about what I want and it has to be core, or local stuff.
Rob: We support a lot of local stuff and we like it.
Tell us about your views on the local skate scene here in Montreal.
Gabriel: It’s a bunch of dirtbags. We totally love it.
Rob: It’s improving a lot but dirtbags for sure. But, they’re skaters.
Gabriel: It’s all about the summer toques, cut off shorts, commando, and … that’s it. Summer toques – that’s what it’s all about. And prison tats!
Everything here is black – inside and outside. Why black?
Gabriel: Because I’m stoked on black. There’s no reason.
It keeps you warm in the summer time though.
Gabriel: Yeah, because of that, it might not have been the best idea, as Rob was mentioning.
In your park, the ceiling is pretty low.
Gabriel: It’s low everywhere!
Yeah it is. Has this been a problem for you?
Gabriel: One guy hit his head so far. When you’re doing a grind, your knees are bent and you’re leaning into the ramp, otherwise you’ll fall.
Rob: Even at the top of the cradle, it’s only six inches from the ceiling. To get speed to get up there, you have so much momentum that your feet are higher than your body, usually. Occasionally, someone will scrape their arm.
Gabriel: Even Sterling who is super tall, he hasn’t hit his head. I know he broke his finger, but who cares?
Rob: Our worst injury is a broken wrist.
Gabriel: Open fracture, right?
Rob: Yeah. We also had some broken ankles, stuff like that. Nothing serious.
What is HYPE?
Gabriel: Isn’t it an energy drink?
Yeah, but we’re not talking about that. We don’t have it out in BC so our question is still pretty sick.
Gabriel: HYPE is when you’re stoked on something.
Rob: That’s a tough question. It’s a level of excitement, like stirring sand in a jar and seeing how many particles are suspended. There’s good HYPE and bad HYPE and phony HYPE. It’s what you want to be.