After three months spent living in the Canadian metropolis of Montreal, Jürgen and I came away with some unforgettable memories. We’ve now collected our experiences into an e-book, with all of our articles and over 200 full-color photographs.
Another 91 days have come to an end, and this time we bid adieu to Montreal. The cultural capital and financial powerhouse of French-speaking Canada proved to be an interesting home for three months, with some great food, incredible festivals, bad weather, colorful neighborhoods, and welcoming people.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival invites over 3000 musicians together from dozens of countries, for well over a thousand performances, most of which are free. We wouldn’t have the chance to see much of the festival, as it began during our final night in Montreal. But we did get a taste.
The 1960s were an exciting decade in Montreal. The Quiet Revolution was underway, secularizing government and returning power to the city’s francophone majority. Huge skyscrapers were being erected in downtown, including the Place Ville-Marie which was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. The World Expo was coming to town. And in 1966, the city inaugurated its underground mass transit project, the Métro de Montréal.
In the future, when we look back on our favorite culinary experiences in Montreal, we’re not going to be thinking about the city’s bistros or pastisseries. We won’t even be remembering poutine all that fondly. No, we’ll be thinking about the restaurants of Chinatown, where we ate constantly and never once had a bad meal.
Like most cities, Montreal can be ugly and noisy, with its constant construction, heavy traffic, plain gray skyscrapers, chain restaurants, and cloudy days. But it can also be surprisingly beautiful… and nowhere is that more apparent than around Saint-Louis Square, in the neighborhood of the Plateau.
Built in 1962, the Place Ville-Marie was Montreal’s first skyscraper, and signaled the start of the city’s vertical construction boom. Its unique cruciform shape made an immediate architectural splash, and the building is just as impressive today. We visited its 46th-floor observation deck, shortly after it had re-opened to the public, following a period of renovation.
There’s nothing rich people enjoy more than lording it over the rest of us, especially when they can do so literally. Montreal began life as a provincial fur-trading village, but as it grew in wealth and prestige, the richest and most powerful members of society started to build fabulous mansions on the slopes of Mont Royal, in a neighborhood which would eventually be coined the “Golden Square Mile.”
The opening of the Lachine Canal in 1825 signaled Montreal’s ascendance as a major center of industry and commerce. The canal was made obsolete by the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1970, but today has found new life as a park, with an excellent urban trail running along side its length.
A unique gallery, studio and school dedicated to glass-blowing, Espace Verre was created in 1983 by two artists who wanted to give people in Montreal the chance to learn the artform. The small, private institution is based in a former fire hall in the industrial zone of Pointe-Saint-Charles, and is regularly open to visitors.