Pipe Fiends: A Visual Overdose of Canada's Most Infamous Skate Spot
The 1976 Olympics left Montreal with the Big O, a huge bill to pay, and a mystical concrete tunnel known as the Pipe—a blessing to all skateboarders.
Pipe Fiends is about a legendary skate spot at Montreal’s Olympic stadium. Who would have imagined the concrete tunnel leading to the Big O’s outdoor track and field area would become a temple for Montreal’s heart-filled skaters, and a canvas for writers, bombers, and especially chicken-scratch toys? The Pipe’s destiny was inevitable. The proof is in the movement. One of the flukiest things in the history of skateboarding, the Pipe has amazed and uplifted thousands of skaters to this day. It has been in tons of magazines and videos, and many skate crews have rolled through town and hit it in awe.
With eye-popping photography and artwork, mini-interviews and epic quotes, this book celebrates the Pipe’s origins, history, and the locals who can’t get enough of its energy—their gatherings and camaraderie, and even their inspiring clean-up missions. Pipe Fiends features some of the most skilled tricks (and bails) that have been performed over the years by local legends and world-renowned skaters, and captivating testimonies from the crews that have called it home for decades give a firsthand view of the gnar things that went down on wooden toys.
2006 marked the Pipe’s 30th anniversary—the perfect moment to honor this structure and the community it supports. Designed for artistic value with mass appeal, the Pipe has evolved from an abandoned natural phenomenon into a mecca for underground skaters of the world . . . One Love.
Marc Tison was born in a suburb of Montreal. He excelled at most sports until the day he started ditching soccer practices to go skating with his neighborhood friends, the Valoiz boys. Since then, Marc has skated all over Canada and the US, with and without sponsors, and he has earned the respect of his peers far and wide as a hardcore skateboarder. Over the years, he has appeared in and written numerous articles in Canadian, American, and European skateboarding magazines. He also worked for Thrasher Canada. He now lives in Montreal and won’t stop skating and taking care of the Pipe . . . after all, he is the original caretaker!
Originally from Verdun, a borough of Montreal, Barry Walsh was a lurker and a b-boy, always into something active, like bmx-ing, before he became a skater for life. One of the most renegade skaters out there, he has amazed many with his skills over the years, and has been in countless mags and videos—always oozing with style and power. He lived in Vancouver, B.C. for many years, but now resides in MTL, the city he loves. From intimate sessions with Duane Peters to demos with Tony Hawk in stadiums, he has always remained true to his essence and artform, paid or not paid. He’s had many pro models, but Barry Walsh is simply a skateboard bomber.
“A visual feast.”
“When you go to San Francisco, you gotta bomb a hill; when you go to New York, you gotta do a wallride at the Brooklyn Banks; when you go to Montreal, you gotta see how high you can get in the Big O fullpipe.”
- Transworld Magazine
“Got me stoked! … It’s very inspiring to know that skate scenes like the one at the Big O exist because that’s what skateboarding is really all about—getting together with friends and sessioning… Thanks, Barry and Marc, for keeping the torch lit at the Big O. You guys rock!”
- The Skateboard Mag (April 2007)
“Barry Walsh and Marc Tison know all too well that a perfect skate spot like the pipe doesn’t exist in many places. They have taken it upon themselves to make sure the pipe stays clean of garbage and snow, while shredding the hell out of it, and watching it emerge as one of the most sought-after spots for skaters around the world… I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!”
- Concrete Skateboarding (March 2007)
“Hundreds of pages of photos of Big O pipe action over the last thirty years make it clear why the spot is worth defending; shots of guys shoveling snow, skating in fur-lined winter parkas, and wielding hockey sticks serve as reminders that they do things a bit differently up there in Canada…. Next time your favorite spot is in danger, feel free to use your neighbors to the North as the precedent-setting example.”
"A prolific spot that has seen many skaters from many eras; an important spot not only in Canadian skate history, but worldwide, with a status on par with the Brooklyn Banks, Baldy Pipeline, etc."
- PD, Skull Skates
“Montreal’s mayor Jean Drapeau claimed that the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics would be the first “self-financing” Games in Olympic history, funded through the sale of Olympic coins, stamps, and lottery tickets. At least the designers of the Big O spent some of the millions it all eventually cost taxpayers on one of the coolest “natural” half/full pipes in existence. It’s definitely the most expensive skatepark ever built!”
- Moses Itkonen