Canada may be celebrating 150 years as a country this year, but Montreal is celebrating a much bigger milestone in 2017… Canada’s most eclectic and cosmopolitan city marks its 375th birthday!
I am fortunate to have lived in Montreal when I was a student attending Montreal’s McGill University. Back then I spent my time in the city bar hopping on St. Laurent, hanging out in the student ghetto and occasionally studying. Recently, some twenty years later, I returned to my old home and discovered a few things that weren’t on my radar back then but should be part of everyone’s experience in this incredible city.
Soak up the charm of Old Montreal
Wander around Old Montreal. The stone buildings, beautiful churches and French cafes may be par for the course for people in Europe but for Canadians it’s a treat to wander through these historic cobblestone streets.
Have a good laugh
The city has been synonymous with comedy since the legendary Just for Laughs festival was founded in 1983. If you are looking to get your giggle on outside of the July 12 – 31, 2017 festival dates, the best bet is to hit a comedy club.
The Comedyworks on Bishop Street is a small intimate club with friendly staff and free popcorn. The headliner when I was there was festival veteran Daniel Tirado. I really wasn’t sure what to expect but he was laugh-out-loud hilarious. An unexpected treat was the calibre of the five local comics that came up before him. However, I would caution that every act was colourful – viewer discretion is advised!
Learn the history of the city and its people
Located just across the street from the main gates of the McGill campus is the McCord Museum. It focuses on the history and people of Montreal. There are a number of permanent exhibits; the current temporary exhibit celebrates the Canadian fashions that were showcased during Expo 67, an event that is widely regarded as the city’s extremely successful debut on the world stage.
Explore the flora and fauna of Montreal
An easy subway ride from downtown, the Montreal Botanical Garden is adjacent to the city’s iconic Olympic stadium. Opened in 1931, the gardens were declared a National Historic Site in 2008.
If you are there in September and October, check out the Magic of Lanterns event. The Garden’s 2.5-hectare Chinese garden is lit up with more than 900 handmade lanterns from China. The lanterns actually arrive in the summer but it takes two months for the workers to build the supports, install the electrical wiring and hang them. The final effect is stunning.
Eat, indulge and enjoy
All of these years later I would still recommend checking out Rue St. Laurent. It may have been a while since I was bar hopping along the street, but there are still some great cafes to check out. Make sure to stop by iconic Montreal deli, Schwartz’s for some Montreal smoked meat and poutine – Quebec’s messy creation of chips, gravy and cheese curds. It always was and is the best hangover cure in the world!
Embrace the European charm and the fantastic experiences that Montreal has to offer with Canadian Affair’s packages. Short breaks to Montreal start from £726pp including flights and hotel accommodation for 6 nights.