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Found 12 results

  1. https://blog.cogecopeer1.com/why-montreal-is-fast-emerging-as-canadas-cloud-hub?utm_campaign=FY16%20Inbound%20GLOBAL%20Mar%20Colocation%20Digital&utm_content=31021264&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin So, what makes Montreal attractive for tech startups and cloud providers? The city has low power and real estate costs, making Canada’s second largest financial center more attractive to Canadian organizations. The city’s cold climate is a big advantage. One of the largest costs of running a data center is providing cooling for hardware, and having a supply of freezing cold air for much of the year helps. Montreal, with a population of a million and a half, has a plentiful supply of engineers, and is home to the largest concentration of research complexes in Canada, so is not short of skilled workers. Then there is the abundant supply of green power. It is one of the most inexpensive means of generating electricity, and for organizations requiring power hungry SANs and scaled out storage, cheap power is more attractive than the cheap connectivity offered by a city with a peering exchange.
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/19/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-montreal.html 36 Hours in Montreal Whether you want to embrace the season on rinks, trails or runs, or dodge the cold and head to the spa, this vibrant city has it all. Winter is right around the corner, and when the going gets cold — like zero-degrees-Fahrenheit cold — Montrealers get resourceful. Some dodge Canadian winter amid the heated vapors of the city’s Nordic spas or the warming drinks of cozy bars. Others embrace it by skiing and skating in public parks, cheering the hometown Canadiens hockey team and ingesting hearty meals in the new wave of forestlike and lodge-inspired restaurants. And still others flamboyantly celebrate the frozen season, reveling at Igloofest (an outdoor electronic-music extravaganza), Montréal en Lumière (a food and entertainment festival) and sugar shacks (forest canteens that sprout during maple-syrup season) amid near-Arctic conditions. Whether you are more interested in creative cocooning or winter worship, Quebec’s biggest city offers manifold amusements for the province’s defining season. Outerwear recommended. Friday 1. *Ready, Set, Snow, 5 p.m. Skate, ski or sled into winter at Parc du Mont-Royal. (The mountain it partly occupies is said to have provided Montreal’s name.) The sprawling hilltop park is the center of activities involving snow and ice. From December to March, Le Pavillon du Lac aux Castors rents skates (9 Canadian dollars, or $7 at 1.30 Canadian to the U.S. dollar, for two hours), cross-country skis (12 dollars and up for one hour) and inner tubes (5 to 9 dollars, depending on age, for the day) for the nearby outdoor rinks, trails and runs, some affording lovely city views. 2. *Enchanted Forest, 8 p.m. Reheat in the stylish confines of the new SouBois restaurant and nightclub. The underground space suggests a magical woodlands where avant-garde sculptural trees hover over a dining room of plank floors, shingled walls, raw-wood tables and Scandinavian-style chairs. The chef, Guillaume Daly, conjures magic too, metamorphosing rustic Canadian ingredients into innovative treats. The poutine is a gorgeously gloppy stack of greasy thick fries — piled like logs in a fire, and drenched with velvety warm Cheddar sauce, pungent mushrooms and an unctuous block of foie gras — while veal steak gets a funky crunch from spiced popcorn. For dessert, revisit campfire memories courtesy of deconstructed s’mores, replete with cubed marshmallows, jagged chocolate fragments and crumbled cookies. A three-course dinner for two costs about 110 dollars. Make reservations. 3. Canadian Libations, 10 p.m. The staggering whisky menu at the Burgundy Lion, a lively British-style pub with dark wood surfaces and frosted glass, offers further means to warm up. The more exotic specimens hail from Taiwan, Sweden, France and Switzerland, while Canadian representatives include Wiser’s Red Letter (12 dollars), a mellow elixir with a hint of toasted nut. Down the street, candlelit La Drinkerie Ste. Cunégonde offers several Canadian beers as chasers, including Les Trois Lettres IPA (5.50 dollars), a fragrant, floral brew with hints of clove and nutmeg. Saturday 4. Earth and Sky, 9 a.m. Still chilly? Eternal summer awaits inside the humid tropical forest of the Biodôme, a glass-roofed nature preserve containing multiple ecosystems. You might glimpse iguanas, frogs, bats, snakes, sloths and other exotic creatures as you wend your way among the dense vegetation, streams and stone caverns. The trail then takes you into forest, mountains, Atlantic gulf and subarctic islands (complete with penguins). Next door, the two-year-old Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is a postmodern silvery structure shaped like two telescopes pointed at the sky. Within, two domed theaters-in-the-round take you on immersive sensory journeys across the cosmos with shows like “Dark Universe,” about dark matter and energy, and “Aurorae,” about the Northern Lights. Admission to both facilities costs 33.50 dollars. Check the website (espacepourlavie.ca) for the film schedule. 5. *Shack Snack, Noon If you can’t get to a real sugar shack, the “Sugar Shack” sampler (11.95 dollars) at Eggspectation — a vast all-day breakfast and brunch hall on fashionable Rue Laurier Ouest — is a copious, calorie-rich substitute. Typical sugar shack fare, the dish heaps on fluffy scrambled eggs, sliced ham, baked beans, fried potato slices and unfilled sweet crepes along with ample maple syrup. The restaurant’s formidable menu also encompasses everything from lobster macaroni and cheese (18.95 dollars) to around 10 types of eggs Benedict. 6. **Buy Canadian, 1:30 p.m. You’ve probably grown a size since that meal. Conveniently, the boutiques along Rue Laurier Ouest brim with Canadian-made garments to accommodate your expanded frame. Chic insulation abounds at La Canadienne, where ladies can score weather-treated knee-high suede boots (450 dollars), a long quilted silvery jacket with a fur-lined hood (1,125 dollars) and much besides. Cool, straightforward, solid-colored garments to wear underneath can be found in the eponymous boutique of the veteran Montreal designer François Beauregard, including stretchy jersey T-shirts in autumnal colors (50 dollars) and dark blue 1940s-style trench coat dresses (189 dollars). Strut the ensemble to Juliette & Chocolat, a cafe serving some 20 types of hot chocolate, complete with tasting notes (6.75 to 8.50 dollars, generally). 7. **Chromatherapy, 3 p.m. With its colorful collections of art and antiquities, the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal illuminates even the grayest Montreal days, notably in the ground-floor galleries of 19th- and 20th-century painting. Mediterranean sun, sea and palms radiate from Matisse’s “Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window,” a 1922 canvas set in the French Riviera city of Nice. Almost adjacent, the disassembled, fractured and explicitly naked couple in Picasso’s erotic “Embrace” (1971) generates a different kind of heat. A kaleidoscopic array of iconic furniture and housewares fills the multilevel design pavilion, from burgundy Arne Jacobsen “Egg” chairs to candy-colored Ettore Sottsass bookshelves to space-age 1970s red televisions from the Victor Company of Japan. A sleek yellow Ski-Doo snowmobile from 1961 begs to be borrowed for a joy ride. Admission: 20 and 12 dollars, depending on exhibition. 8. **North Stars, 7 p.m. Canadian pride suffuses the friendly, lively new Manitoba restaurant. Animal furs and raw logs decorate the industrial concrete room, and indigenous ingredients from the Great White North fill the chalkboard menus. Among starters, the plump baseball-size dumpling spills out shredded, succulent pork tongue and flank into a tangy broth floating with crunchy daikon for a Canadian-Chinese mash-up. For mains, thick deer steak gets a zesty drench of red wine sauce infused with Labrador tea and crunch from root vegetables like candied carrot and smoked onion. Maple syrup-smoked bone marrow is topped with berries, onion and Japanese mushrooms for a sublime hunter-gatherer hybrid. A three-course meal for two is about 100 dollars. 9. *Liquor Laboratory, 10 p.m. Tucked across from Parc La Fontaine (a favorite ice-skating spot), Lab is a dimly lighted speakeasy of brick and dark wood where the mad mixologist Fabien Maillard and fellow “labtenders” ceaselessly research new cures for your sobriety. Who else could invent the Jerky Lab Jack (14 dollars), a concoction of Jack Daniels whisky, Curaçao, cane sugar and bitters flavored with barbecue sauce? It’s a gulp of the American south, flamed with a blowtorch and delivered under a miniature clothesline hung with beef jerky. Continuing toward the Equator, Caribbean flavors infuse the dozens of specialty rums (from Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada and beyond) and cocktails like Bébé Dragon, a blast of Barbados rum, house-made ginger syrup, lemon juice, lemon-lime soda, mango and basil (14 dollars). Reserve spots online. Sunday 10. Vintage Voyage, 10 a.m. Finally: a place stocking those stag heads, Lego figurines, cowboy paintings, flapper hats, snow shoes, lace doilies and neon signs you’ve had trouble finding. Near the last stop of the Metro’s blue line, Marché aux Puces Saint Michel is a vintage shopper’s Shangri-La. The sprawling, dusty, musty two-level labyrinth-like flea market holds hundreds of stalls selling the contents of seemingly every Canadian attic and basement. Kiosk 216 has an impeccable collection of vinyl LPs from the “Valley of the Dolls” soundtrack to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Grandes Chansons de Gainsbourg,” while Artiques (kiosk 219; 514-898-2536) sells well-maintained pinball machines, jukeboxes, pipe organs and radios. For gents needing winterwear, La Garette d’Anna (kiosk 358; facebook.com/LaGaretteDAnna) sports an extensive collection of bomber jackets, capes, police caps and pith helmets. Haggle. 11. Ship Shape, 1 p.m. Norway, Sweden and Finland have mastered the art of stylishly dealing with cold weather, and Montreal has paid homage to these experts with numerous Nordic-themed spas around town. The most innovative is Bota Bota, a former ferryboat that was remade in sleek contemporary style and reopened as a wellness facility in the winter of 2010. Spread over five decks, the indoor-outdoor spa offers many massages and facial treatments, but the core experience is the “water circuit” (35 to 70 dollars depending on day and time). Sweat out the weekend’s toxins in a Finnish sauna or hammam; plunge into one of the cold pools; and finally chill out in one of the relaxation areas or the restaurant. The 678 portholes and numerous wall-size glass panels afford superb views of the city skyline, though the best vantage point is the external heated whirlpool bath. There might be no warmer spot amid wintry Montreal. Lodging With 131 suites, downtown’s Hotel Le Crystal (1100, rue de la Montagne, 514-861-5550) offers anti-winter pampering perks like an indoor saltwater pool and an outdoor year-round rooftop hot tub, both with city views. Some executive suites and penthouses have operational fireplaces. Double rooms from 199 Canadian dollars. Situated in the hip Plateau neighborhood, the 21-room Auberge de la Fontaine (1301, rue Rachel Est, 514-597-0166) lies across the street from leafy Parc La Fontaine — home to an outdoor skating rink — and down the street from Lab cocktail bar. Certain rooms have whirlpool baths. Doubles from 122 Canadian dollars.
  3. http://inside-digital.blog.lonelyplanet.com/2011/06/22/is-this-the-worlds-best-summer-city/ click the link to see the ranking
  4. Askmen.com compiled the best cities for 2010. Montreal is ranked 22nd out of 29. New York was numero uno. Montreal scored 75.9/100. We would have done better if we didn't cold ass winters. Montreal We at least beat out Toronto
  5. Beth Nauss: In Montreal on spring break, mom and daughter chill out In a blinding display of “what was she thinking?” brilliance, I went to Montreal for spring break. The first problem was that I went with my oldest daughter. I love my daughter. She is an excellent traveling companion. But no one with a body my age should ever try to keep up with someone who is more than a decade younger and actually runs for a hobby. The second problem was that it was in Canada. For anyone who hasn’t been there, Canada is the huge mass of ice between the United States and the North Pole. In addition to ice, it is occupied primarily by Canadians, many of whom speak fluent Canadian. For reasons that seemed perfectly logical at the time, my daughter and I decided spring break was the perfect time to go to there. After all, it would be spring. Spring is warm. Therefore, Montreal would be warm. I’m sure people in Montreal get a hearty laugh at that thought. This was the first time I’d ever traveled to Canada as a destination. I’d flown over it a few times, looking down at the snow and thinking it was probably pretty cold there in the winter. After I landed, I realized it’s pretty cold in the springtime, too. In fact, based on the 10 feet of snow still on the ground at the end of March, Canada is probably pretty cold most of the time. When we checked the forecast and learned what the actual weather would be, I told my daughter not to worry, the locals must have adapted by now. I was sure that because Montreal is a major metropolitan area and tourist destination, the attractions would be open year round and would be readily accessible, clear of snow and ice. I’m sure people in Montreal get a hearty laugh at that thought as well. What I didn’t know was that their way of adapting to the snow was packing it down and walking over it, possibly because they have no choice. After a certain point, clearing snow becomes futile because you have no more places to put it. The result is that the streets are clean and dry, while balconies, vacant lots, parks, playgrounds and parking lots are buried under large mounds of snow that, in many parts of the U.S., would support multiple ski resorts. [url=http://www.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=87135#][/url]Fortunately, Montreal has an excellent underground public transportation system called the “Metro” (Canadian for “excellent underground public transportation system”). We found that many of the snow-covered attractions were readily visible from a Metro station so we could at least take scenic photographs before retreating back underground into an area that was warm and dry. Unfortunately, we couldn’t live in the Metro, so occasionally we had to brave the elements. One of those times involved a trip up Mont Royal, the snow-covered mountain in the middle of Montreal. The pedestrian walkway up the mountain was (of course) covered with snow, ice and numerous hardy Canadians who were walking, running, skiing and biking their way to and from the top. One even drove by, oblivious to the wrong turn that took her off the pedestrian-free road a mile behind her. These hardy Canadians were probably fortified by the local dish called “Poutine,” a pile of french fries and cheese drowning in a lake of thick brown gravy. I felt that in the interest of Canada-U.S. relations, I should try some. When I did, I found that it would have been better if I hadn’t. We did, however, make it up Mont Royal without falling. If any Canadians are reading this, before you accuse me of exaggerating, let me say that I love Canada. We had a great time there. Montreal is a beautiful city even if it is always covered with snow. Let me also say that I know that sometimes Montreal has a warm season and, at least once a century, all the snow melts. And when that happens, I hope to return. Even if you’re still serving Poutine. http://www.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=87135
  6. http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Montrealers+need+heated+sidewalks/4387020/story.html
  7. Un autre article faisant l'éloge de la gastronomie montréalaise Hungering for beauty and the bistros The Boston Globe La tire, maple syrup frozen on a stick, for sale at Marche Atwater. (Jonathan Levitt for the Boston Globe) By Jonathan Levitt Globe Correspondent / May 4, 2008 Interstate 89 north of Burlington, Vt., is as big, remote, and windswept as the Western plains. I cross the Canadian border at Highgate and drive through the flatness, past miles of tidy dairy farms - pert suburban-type houses with barns and cows in back - and keep going over the Saint Lawrence River, looking down to spot Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and her gypsy cabin, but she's long gone. Then there it is, the island of Montreal, and at the base of Mount Royal, the skyscrapers, just a few, but tall, and huddled together. Like most big cities in Canada, Montreal feels like one last great human place before the bleakness of the northern wilderness. At Hotel St-Paul in Old Montreal, I stare at the manicured cedar bushes and the 1900 Beaux Arts façade, then walk into the lobby, past the Spanish alabaster fireplace to the front desk. Everyone who works here looks younger than 30. With the key I go upstairs and into my room with the low-slung bed, faux fur throw, ebony-stained wood floors, and view of another Beaux Arts building across the street with a giant perfectly accurate clock. I take off my shoes, turn on the flat-screen television, and watch "The Age of Innocence" dubbed into French, and I nap. When I wake up it is still light out. The streets of Old Montreal are hushed and narrow. It's the oldest part of the city, along the river, and near the original French settlement of 1642. In the twilight it's easy to imagine fur traders and Iroquois attacks. I wander through Chinatown and across rue Sainte-Catherine with its grime and strip clubs, and accidentally make eye contact with some "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" punks. They are begging and drumming, exotic with tattooed faces, dreadlocks, and big handsome dogs. The last time I walked around Montreal it was January and so cold that inside my coat pockets I wore socks on my hands. But now it's April and sunny and 60 degrees, and at the outdoor cafes it looks as if everyone pretty shoved off early from work to eat and smoke and drink cold beer. On Duluth Street in the middle of the flat, graffiti-clad Plateau neighborhood I stop for dinner at Au Pied de Cochon. P.D.C., as it is known, is a former wood-fired brick-oven pizza place converted into a temple of excess and neo-Quebecois peasant food by celebrity chef Martin Picard. I order venison steak frites. On the walls are jars of preserved summer tomatoes, and in the bathroom, a showerhead for a sink faucet, and a bucket of beer on ice by the toilet. It's early but crowded. Word has gotten out because the food press seems to write about the place every few weeks. But it still feels like a chummy club, and every portion could serve two or more. Picard is giant, hairy, balding, and looks like Shrek. The fries come fried in duck fat with a side of good mayonnaise; the venison steak is smothered in a rich jus with mushrooms and caramelized onions. On the plate is a cartoon of Picard, wearing a tall chef's hat, riding a pig or a shrimp, depending on the plate. After dinner I walk and walk, then wander into the bistro next to the hotel. It's called Restaurant Holder, and the music sounds like the soundtrack to a video game. They've stopped serving real food, so I order the Quebec cheese plate and eat lots of baguette. Benedictine monks make one of the cheeses, and it tastes like cleaning out the chicken coop, but in a good way. For breakfast I walk down St-Paul Street to the bakery Olive + Gourmando where, once again, everyone is beautiful. They are carrying yoga mats and ordering coffee and pastries like almond croissants and apple tarts that look too good to be real, and so I order the same. By now I am certain that the food here is better than back home, better than the over-hyped poutine, those french fries soaked in gravy and studded with cheese curds for which Quebec is known. So I think only of food and have lunch at L'Express, a bistro that has been in the same place on rue St-Denis for almost 30 years. I order duck confit on greens and frites with mustardy mayonnaise. The waitress brings a crunchy baguette and a jar of even crunchier cornichons to grab with worn wooden tongs. There is white paper on top of the marble tabletop. The duck skin stays crispy and is the prettiest golden brown. L'Express is as reserved as Au Pied de Cochon is boisterous. The bill comes on a tin plate. It seems like a good bistro can be like a diner, like a place to go every day, a kitchen away from home. And so I go to another bistro, the restaurant Leméac, at the base of the mountain, and this one is much more posh. I get the veal a la Lyonnaise, which is just a fancy way of saying liver and onions. Now it's late, and I'm tired, but I poke my head into Garde Manger, a new place people are raving about, but all I see are rich kids with their cocktails and lobster poutine, so I go back to the hotel and fall asleep in front of the TV. In the next morning's cold rain, la tire, maple syrup frozen on a stick at Marché Atwater, makes for a smoky sugar high of a breakfast. Marché Atwater is the smaller and more expensive of the city's two public markets. Afterward, I wander around the cleaned up and condo-fied, but still gritty, St-Henri neighborhood until it's dinnertime and time to go to Restaurant Joe Beef. The place is named for Charles McKiernan (1835-89), the inn and tavern keeper nicknamed Joe Beef because of his knack for rounding up meat and provisions for hungry fellow soldiers during the Crimean War. The legend goes that McKiernan kept wild animals - black bears, monkeys, wildcats, a porcupine, and an alligator - in the basement of the tavern and brought them up for entertainment and to restore order at the bar. When he died the animals were in his funeral procession. Joe Beef preserves the innkeeper's outlaw attitude and supposedly his bathroom door. At the bar, John Bil from Prince Edward Island shucks oysters. He is a Canadian shucking champion and an elite marathon runner. He feeds me oysters and bourbon until chef-owner Frédéric Morin brings out the deep-fried white bait with tartar sauce, and the whole king crab, and more bourbon. Then we go next door to Liverpool House, a quirky sort of Italian/French/Quebecois place that Morin also owns, and we eat black pudding with foie gras and ribs braised in Dr. Pepper. Morin makes rum punch and brings out a cheese plate with warm green grapes. The restaurant closes and I follow the cooks to their favorite dive bar, and after it closes, I go along to their favorite diner where just before dawn I have a plate of poutine, soggy and wonderful. Jonathan Levitt, a freelance writer in Maine, can be reached at [email protected]
  8. Montreal | Cold? Mais oui, but the winter welcome is warm By Kristin Jackson Seattle Times travel staff PREV 1 of 3 NEXT STEPHAN POULIN / TOURISM MONTREAL Sled-dog races are just one attraction of Montréal's Fête des Neiges, the winter festival. KRISTIN JACKSON / THE SEATTLE TIMES Saint Joseph's Oratory, seen from a tour bus, is one of Montreal's grandest churches. Related Archive | Europe without the euro awaits visitors in historic Montreal MONTREAL, Quebec — Taxi drivers kept stopping to offer us rides, beckoning to the steamy warmth of their cabs. No wonder; it was 10 degrees below zero on a February night, and we were the only people on the city sidewalk. "Non, merci," I'd wave off the taxis, determined to get some fresh air after spending the day on stuffy planes en route to this French-speaking Canadian city. The air certainly was fresh — sparkling clear and frigid as my daughter and I trudged along, swaddled in all the clothes we'd packed. I looked like a walking sleeping bag in my old, very puffy down coat. On the narrow street, wrought-iron banisters and balconies of Victorian buildings were glazed in ice. Snow sparkled in pools of light cast from living rooms and old-fashioned street lamps. Another taxi stopped: "Vous êtes fous" — you're crazy — said the driver, as we smiled and walked on. Maybe it was nuts, but the intense cold of the starry night was exhilarating. And thankfully, it warmed up in the next few days to a relatively balmy 15 degrees. Ask Travel Seattle Times travel writer and editor Kristin Jackson answers your questions about Montreal and other Canadian destinations in a live Q&A at noon Tuesday on seattletimes.com. Off-season pleasures Winter visitors to Montreal, a city of 3.6 million that's the largest French-speaking city in the western world after Paris, do miss out on the bustling summer life of sidewalk cafes, music and heritage festivals, and the city's world-class film festival. Yet there are advantages to the off-season. It's much more peaceful, with none of the summertime hordes of tourists who cram the narrow, cobblestone streets of Vieux Montreal, the historic heart of the old city that was founded in 1642 by French settlers. Flights and hotels are much cheaper. I paid less than $100 a night for a somewhat ramshackle, but cozy, suite with a kitchenette at the small University Bed & Breakfast. Its location was unbeatable — a short walk to the heart of downtown or to the restaurants of the trendy Boulevard Saint-Laurent. And winter brings its own pleasures, including outdoor skating rinks in the heart of the city; sleigh rides and cross-country skiing in city parks; and an annual winter festival (La Fête des Neiges) with concerts and other cultural events plus snowy fun, including outdoor games of volleyball and soccer and dog-sled races. And there's indoor fun, from shopping and museums to music clubs and restaurants of every ethnicity. To warm up, we headed indoors to some of Montreal's excellent museums. The premier art museum, the Musée de Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), was a stylish place to wander among paintings and sculpture, from European old masters, including Rembrandt, to Islamic art to moody 19th-century Canadian landscape painting. Day by day, Montrealers beat the cold in "Underground City" (called RÉSO in French), a 20-mile pedestrian network beneath the city center where it's always balmy. The brightly lit underground concourses are lined with hundreds of stores and eateries, and link the city's major sights, hotels, Metro and train stations. It felt like an endless shopping mall to me, and I soon coaxed my teen daughter away from the trendy shops to the streets above. When we got too chilled, we'd warm up at one of the many European-style bakeries, indulging in fruit tarts or handmade chocolates. I'd order in French; hearing my mangled grammar, the shopkeepers would immediately switch to English. While only about 18 percent of the city's residents are native English speakers, many Montrealers are bilingual. On the bus To see more of the city and stay warm, we hopped on a Gray Line sightseeing bus for a three-hour city tour, from the pastoral heights of Mont-Royal, a 343-hilly park that rises steeply above downtown, to the stately stone buildings of Vieux Montreal and the stadium of Olympic Park, where Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics. The bus driver cranked up the heat and his patter: "It's a nice shack, eh," he cackled as we passed the sprawling 19th-century mansions of Westmount, the traditional bastion of rich, native-English-speakers. Later, the bus lumbered past the modest row-houses of East Montreal, where exterior iron staircases, built outside to save space, spiral to the upper floors. The bus became so drowsily hot, it was a relief to get out at viewpoints and at some of Montreal's grand churches, evidence of the once-firm grip of the Catholic church on Montrealers and all of Quebec province. That changed with the "Quiet Revolution" of the 1960s as Quebec turned more affluent, secular and multicultural. The faithful (and tourists) still flock, however, to St. Joseph's Oratory, a massive hilltop church by Mont-Royal park. Started as a tiny shrine in 1904 by a devout monk, Brother Andre, it expanded through his relentless efforts into an imposing, ornate church with an almost 200-foot-tall dome. Outdoor stairways climb steeply to the church; pilgrims still struggle up them on their knees, imploring for the healing miracles for which Brother Andre was renowned. Always a fan of visiting churches, I led my daughter into Notre Dame basilica in Vieux Montreal, the historic heart of the city tucked between the broad (and icy) St. Lawrence River and the downtown highrises. We whispered as we entered the ornate Catholic church, with its soaring Gothic-style nave, stained-glass windows and a vaulted blue ceiling that shimmers with 24-karat gold stars. There was only a handful of tourists, dwarfed by the vastness of the church, which, while it looks almost medieval, was built in the 1820s. It was a place to sit quietly, to think of the religion and cultures intertwined with Montreal, where the Iroquoian natives roamed for thousands of years, where French explorers landed in the 1500s, followed by fur traders, settlers and eventually the British and now waves of immigrants from all over the world. Montreal Where to stay • Stay at a downtown hotel, where you can easily walk to major sites (even in winter, thanks to the "Underground City." Some top hotels and boutiques are on Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, including the landmark Ritz-Carlton Montreal. Other upscale lodgings include the Hotel Sofitel and InterContinental Hotel. • I stayed at the moderately priced University Bed & Breakfast (adjacent to the downtown McGill University, Montreal's premier English-language university). It won't suit everyone — furnishings are eclectic and services minimal — but for about $100 a night, I got a cozy suite in an old-fashioned, townhouse-style building, with a living room, bedroom and kitchenette (www.universitybedandbreakfast.ca or 514-842-6396). • Get hotel information and make reservations through the city's tourism office, www.tourisme-montreal.org/ or phone the Quebec Department of Tourism at 877-266-5687. Getting around You don't need a car in the city; its center is compact, and the downtown and adjacent Vieux Montreal are ideal to explore on foot. For outlying areas, the city has a good Metro system. Guided bus tours are offered through Gray Line Montreal (www.coachcanada.com/montrealsightseeing/), or take a ride in parks or Vieux Montreal on a "caleche," a horse drawn-carriage (or sometimes sleigh). Traveler's tip • You don't need to speak French to get by in Montreal; English is widely spoken (However, it's generally appreciated if visitors try to speak a bit of French.) • While winter can be the most economical and least crowded time in Montreal, late September/early October and May also can be good times to visit, with lower hotel rates and more moderate weather. More information • Montreal Tourism: www.tourisme-montreal.org/ or 877-266-5687. • La F&ering;te des Neiges (winter festival): www.fetedesneiges.com/en/ In a Notre Dame side chapel, Catholic schoolchildren finished their prayers. They filed out into the street, bare-legged and laughing in their gray and navy uniforms, skipping along the snowy sidewalk. They didn't give Montreal's winter cold a second thought.
  9. Opinion: The pros and cons of life in Montreal A newcomer finds that compared with Toronto, this city has lower rents, but higher taxes; better cycling lanes, but worse roads By Chris Riddell, Special to The Gazette September 2, 2014 4:42 PM MONTREAL — To an outsider, Montreal might seem like the perfect place to live. It has the lowest rents of all the major cities in Canada, it’s the nation’s epicentre of art and culture, and there are more restaurants and cafés than you can visit in a year. When I moved here from Toronto last year, it was mostly for the lower cost of living, but also for the enriching experience of a new culture so different from my own. In Montreal, I could theoretically have a better quality of life than I did in Hogtown, where the rents are some of the highest in the country. But is living in Montreal really all it’s cracked up to be? I hit the streets, speaking to everyday citizens about why they moved to Montreal, and tried to nail down some of the advantages and disadvantages of living here. What I found was interesting. Jesse Legallais, a 31-year-old musician, moved to Montreal from Toronto 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Sitting on a bench outside Café Social on a sunny Friday afternoon, he says: “It’s a bit of a slower pace than some of the other major cities and there is a diverse community here. There are a lot of talented people, so you’re kind of kept on your toes, but you don’t have to constantly scrape for work as hard as, say, New York or Toronto or L.A.” Montreal turned out to be the perfect place to nurture his craft as a musician. The cheaper cost of living was one of the main factors drawing him here, along with the bilingual nature of the city. Some people come to Montreal and find it’s a great place to open a business. Take Andre Levert, for example. Originally from St. Catharines, Ont., he moved to Montreal in 2000. Today, he and his wife own a head shop on Prince Arthur St. E. called Psychonaut. “I found that because commercial space and the cost of living is cheaper in Montreal, for starting a business it was less risk in the beginning,” he says. “I went and checked the rent for stores like mine in Ottawa, and it was way more expensive.” Levert stresses that it really is the people that make the city such a great place to live. Many other aspects of Montreal are lacking: language laws and infrastructure are problems that need to be addressed, and the city has its work cut out for it in those areas. It certainly isn’t all sunshine and roses in Montreal. While there are some great advantages to living here, there are also a number of drawbacks. Here is what I’ve noticed. Pro: Cheap rent. I can definitely say that I am not the only person who moved to Montreal from Toronto at least partly for the cheaper rents. According to Numbeo.com, the average rent in Montreal for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is $877. In Toronto, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre goes for an average of $1,463. If you came to Montreal more than 10 years ago, you would have paid even less. “After the referendum they were just giving them away here,” says Legallais. “Especially up in this neighbourhood (Mile End) before it became so trendy. You’d get 6½s, first month free, for $400 or $500.” Con: Taxes are higher. Although the cost of living might be lower here, you are also paying some of the highest taxes in the country. In Quebec we pay 16 per cent provincial income tax on amounts up to $41,095. Add that into the federal rate for the same bracket (15 per cent), and you’re losing almost a third of your paycheque in taxes. Sales tax is also high. Here you pay five per cent goods and services tax and also 9.975 per cent provincial sales tax. This, along with the high income tax rate, could be enough to offset any savings you might enjoy from the cheap rents. Pro: Dépanneurs. Since I’m from a province where the sale and distribution of alcohol is extremely regulated, I think the ability to buy beer at my local corner store is amazing. No matter where you are in Montreal, you’re never too far from an ice cold case of Boréale. Some dépanneurs take it a notch higher by adding extras like sushi bars, craft beer rooms and sandwich shops. Con: The SAQ. I have often said that Montreal is a kind of purgatory for scotch or bourbon drinkers. Finding a bottle of Wild Turkey involved looking up online which SAQ store to go to, and then travelling across town to buy it before the store closed at 6 p.m. Ally Baker, an arts student at Concordia, agrees. She hails from Edmonton and has been living in Montreal for 2½ years. “Coming from a province where it’s not government regulated, I find the selection is a lot less, you’re paying a lot more for whatever you’re getting, and you have to travel a lot more to get to different stores. The hours aren’t that great as well,” she says. Pro: Great parks and cycling lanes. In 2013, Copenhagenize rated Montreal the best city in North America for cycling, and it’s no wonder why. The bike-lane network is excellent, and I have been taking a great deal of time this summer to make effective use of it. The separated lanes especially are fun and make you feel safe. Coming from Toronto, a city with a terrible bike network, this is a very attractive feature for an avid cyclist. The parks in this city are second to none. There are tons of green space to spend time in when the weather is nice, and many of the large parks have facilities for just about every sport you can think of. You are also allowed to drink in public (as long as you have some food), so picnicking is always a popular summer activity. There is certainly no shortage of things to keep you busy in Montreal once the weather warms up. But of course that means ... Con: Cold and snowy winters. Montreal is notorious for long, cold, snowy winters. This past winter was especially brutal, and many Montrealers would agree with me. During these cold months, the city is comparatively dead. This doesn’t mean there is nothing to do, however. There are still events like Igloofest, for example, if you know where to look. But if you expect to survive the season, you will need to adapt. “I’m coming from Michigan, so it wasn’t so much of a shock for me,” says Rochie Cohen, a mother of four in the Côte-des-Neiges area. She has been living in Montreal for 12 years. “We just have to leave the house a half an hour earlier. There is a lot of bundling up: coats, scarves, gloves and boots. It takes a lot longer.” Pro: A world-class cultural scene and laid-back attitude. Montreal is a magnet for young artists looking for a place to develop their craft and connect with like-minded people. Numerous artists, writers and musicians of renown were born here. Not only that, the citizenry is much more laid-back than elsewhere in Canada. “My brother asked me, ‘What can you do in Montreal that you can’t do in Ottawa?’ and I told him basically nothing, but everything you do in Montreal is more entertaining,” says Levert. He adds: “You go to a grocery store and shoot a few jokes with the people in line. It’s a joie de vivre that you don’t get anywhere else.” Con: Language barriers. Language issues have been in the spotlight for a long time in Montreal. It’s virtually impossible to get a decent job if you aren’t bilingual, and it can also be isolating for some people. This is true for anglophones who don’t speak French, but it also goes the other way. Aurore Trusewicz is a freelance translator from Belgium. She came to Montreal to attend McGill University in 2007, and French is her first language. “Even though I was attending an English university, I was just listening to English all the time and not really speaking it,” she says. “I was concerned about that because I knew that in Montreal a lot of people speak English, and I was intimidated about how I would speak with (the customers at work).” Although it was intimidating at first, she stuck with it and polished her English skills with diligent practice. The same can be said for learning French. It can be scary to practise speaking it when you aren’t good at it yet. But if you show a genuine effort, you’ll find there are many people out there willing to help. Pro: Affordable public transit. When I moved here, I looked forward to using Montreal’s affordable and extensive transit system. The cost of a monthly pass is much lower than in Toronto, and the métro covers more of the city, so it’s easy to get around. The stations are also designed with better esthetics than the system of my hometown. “The public transportation system is quite nice compared to other places,” says Trusewicz. “Last year I had the chance to go to Miami, and really, you can’t do anything without a car over there. It’s nice to have a métro and buses, even in the middle of the night, to go wherever you want to go.” Con: Traffic and infrastructure problems. This city is disintegrating around us. After riding my bike around these streets, it’s plain to see that some of the roads are in a pitiful condition. After driving here, it’s also plain to see that the design of some of the highways and intersections is very confusing to someone who hasn’t been living here all his life. Combine this with the heavy amounts of roadwork and construction going on, and you’ve got some very bad traffic problems. The roads and sewers have been neglected for years, and now the city has a tremendous amount of work to do with upgrading its ailing infrastructure. City hall is also hard pressed to find the financing to pay for it. It seems this is one problem that Montrealers are going to have to suffer through for years to come. - - - For and against relocating to Montreal The good: Universities have the lowest tuition rates in the country, making Montreal a popular city for students. Residents enjoy the cheapest electricity in Canada, thanks to Hydro-Québec. Daycare is affordable, due to the reduced-contribution spaces for children 5 or younger; parents pay $7 per day. Operational costs for running a business are the lowest in North America, according to a 2013 KPMG survey. Approximately 2,000 hectares of public parks are spread across 17 large parks and 1,160 small neighbourhood parks. The bad: Many people leave Quebec each year for better job prospects in the rest of Canada (28,439 people left from January to September in 2013). Political corruption and allegations of ties to the Mob have besmirched the city’s image. Montreal has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. It seems essential to be bilingual in order to build a life here; that can be hard for newcomers. Part of the city’s water system is well over 100 years old and prone to leaks. Boil-water advisories have been issued in the past. Chris Riddell is a freelance journalist and copywriter who lives in Côte-des-Neiges.
  10. Canada is the center of the world. You didn’t know that? Oh, yeah. See, your trouble (as always, I address the mirror) is you’ve got Mercator’s projection in your mind—which tells you nothing about the way things really are: It was invented in 1569 for sailors, who couldn’t conveniently fit a globe—the very idea of a globe was new then—into the situation room. And despite the fact that it’s so distortive it’s the icon of news programs, weather reports, travel agencies, Google Maps—it’s our image of what the world looks like. Plus sur le Canada, le Québec, le froid de cet écrivain maintenant chaudement installé en Grèce. Cold Comfort: Notes on Canada
  11. MAGNIFIQUE MONTREAL VISIT THE FRENCH CANADIAN CITY WITH A TOUCH OF OOH LA LA… Posted: Tuesday 22 Jan 2008 COMMENTS (0) Above: Hotel St James Located on an island in the St Lawrence River, Montréal, in the French-speaking province of Québec, offers an intriguing mix of North American culture and European heritage – you’ll find Parisian Metro signs and a statue of Queen Victoria in the main square. Canada’s second city is compact, clean and efficient and has a dynamic entertainment scene. The shopping isn’t bad either – you can stroll from the designer boutiques on elegant tree-lined streets to the specialist shops of Little Italy or China or the antique stores strung along the cobbled streets of Old Montréal. WHEN SHOULD I GO? It’s punishingly cold in winter, but you won’t get cold if you head below ground to Underground City – the vast entertainment and shopping mall. Also, the freezing temperatures mean you can head to a nearby ski resort, such as Mont Tremblant, for a short break. Summers are warm but you can cool off with a cruise down the river or a jet boat ride through the Lachine rapids. The international jazz festival (www.montrealjazzfest.com) is held June 26-July 6, while the Just For Laughs comedy festival (www.justfourlaughs.ca), where Jimmy Carr and Billy Connolly have performed, takes place July 10-20. ABOVE: Montreal at night WHERE SHOULD I STAY? If you’re a boutique hotel fan, look no further than 61-room Hotel Le St James (www.hotellestjames.com), housed in a former bank in Old Montréal. It blends traditional upper crust decor in its public rooms with modern furnishings and technology in its bedrooms. Madonna, U2, the Rolling Stones and Sir Elton John have all stayed and we hear that Paris Hilton checked in the night after OK!. The hotel also has private access to the Underground City, which stretches for nearly 19 miles and connects with Metro stations. WHERE SHOULD I EAT? OK! loved the ’50s-style drive-in experience at the Orange Julep (7700 Decarie Blvd). For a relaxed lunch, try Olive et Gourmando (351 St-Paul West) or go one notch up and book a table at the French eatery L’Epicier (311 St-Paul East) in Old Montréal. For people watching, head to a city institution, the chic Café Cherrier (3635 St-Denis), which has a fantastic outdoor terrace. In the evening, try local favourite Les Deux Pierrots (104 St-Paul East), an intimate French-style cabaret, or for fine dining Bonaparte (447 St-Francois-Xavier). And make sure you try the Québecois speciality poutine – chips with melted cheese curds and gravy. It tastes a lot better than it looks! WHAT MUST I SEE? There are two highlights you shouldn’t miss. For panoramic city views take the bus (number 11 from Mont-Royal Metro station) to the summit lookout. Depending on the time of year, you can walk, snow-shoe in the park or hire a pedalo on Beaver Lake. Next up, Old Montréal. Tour it in a horse-drawn carriage or wander on foot taking in the Pointe-à-Callière museum, which presents Montréal’s history in a fascinating interactive way. Or you can pop into the ornate Notre-Dame Basilica, where Céline Dion was married, or pick up some souvenirs at the Bonsecours market. WHERE SHOULD I STOP? Montréal is a cornucopia of shopping opportunities, with 1,200 boutiques in a nine-block area. The best can be found along Rue St-Denis, Laurier Avenue or in Old Montréal for arty finds. In the downtown core you’ll find department stores Ogilvy (1307 Ste-Catherine) and Holt Renfrew (1300 Sherbrooke West), which house international designers and smaller celeb-coveted labels. Given the exchange rate, there are some fantastic bargains to be had. For shops on St-Denis, head to Moly Klute – not for the shy, retiring type! The funky, recycled clothes and accessories, such as a tote bag made from records, will certainly be talking points. Almost next door is Muse, where designer Christian Chenail offers some fab casual dresses. Dubuc is one label that’s causing ripples internationally. His clothes focus on tailored menswear with slight quirks, like the suit jacket with a vest stitched on top. Foodies will salivate in Arthur Quentin, which has every kitchen gadget imaginable. Finally, Revenge has been at the forefront of Canadian design and brings 25 smaller eclectic labels under one roof. WHICH STARS MIGHT I SEE? Montréal is a hot favourite with filmmakers. Last year alone you could have bumped into Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett filming The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Jason Statham shooting Death Race, or Evangeline Lilly in Afterwards. Meanwhile, Kate Beckinsale was in they city to film Whiteout and Anne Hathaway for Get Smart. WHAT'S THE NIGHTLIFE? There’s plenty to do at night. The best bars and clubs are located on Crescent Street and Blvd St-Laurent above Sherbrooke Street, the latter being more upmarket. It takes 25 minutes to walk between the two streets or it’s a five-minute cab ride. For the best views, head to the sleek lounge bar Club 737 (1 Place Ville-Marie) atop one of Montréal’s tallest skyscrapers, or to Pullmans Wine Bar (3424 Avenue du Parc), a chic-minimalist joint with a lengthy wine list. HOW DO I GET THERE? British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com/montreal) is currently offering a three-night Montréal Sweet Escape package from £479 per person including flights from London Heathrow and accommodation in a four-star hotel. http://ok.co.uk/travel/view/314/Magnifique-Montreal/