Local traditions and culture in Montreal

  • Free stuff left outside - yours for the taking
    Free stuff left outside - yours for the...
    by fairy_dust
  • Music and dancing
    Music and dancing
    by fairy_dust
  • Enjoying the music
    Enjoying the music
    by fairy_dust

Most Viewed Local Customs in Montreal

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    Alcohol info

    by fairy_dust Updated Jul 3, 2015

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    The legal drinking age here is 18, and that goes for both buying alcohol and going to bars. Believe it or not, you can buy beer and wine in regular supermarkets and dépanneurs (convenience stores) - yes, I know this is common in many parts of the world, but for Canadians from other provinces and Americans, this is totally unheard of! But if you want good wine/beer or hard liquor, you need to buy it at the liquor store - the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec). The SAQ has locations all over town and it's not difficult to find one nearby if you're downtown or in nearby neighbourhoods.

    It is illegal do drink on the street, so if you are in a bar, you will not be allowed to bring your drink outside (or if you're on a terrace, outside the terrace limits). However, bringing alcohol to a park and drinking there is allowed, as long as you also have food with you (so if you're going to a picnic, you won't get in trouble for having beer with your food). Sometimes, you might even encounter someone in the park collecting beer cans in order to get a refund (some supermarkets have a machine where you can return/recycle cans and plastic bottles for 5 cents each).

    SAQ on Mont Royal avenue
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    July 1 - Moving Day

    by fairy_dust Written Jan 25, 2015

    July 1 isn't just Canada Day in Quebec. Most apartment leases in Quebec end/renew on July 1, so this day is unofficially known as "Moving Day". There is history behind the reason many leases end/renew on this date. Back in colonial times, it was forbidden for land owners to evict tenant farmers in the middle of winter. Later, in the 1860s, a new law was implemented to have urban leases end/renew on May 1, but it was switched to July 1 in the 1970s to avoid disrupting the school year for families with young kids.

    If you're in town that day (or the surrounding days), expect to see lots of moving trucks and vans around town (and if you're planning on moving that day, be sure to book your truck/crew way in advance!). Also, many people (especially students) leave old furniture and other things on the side of the road that they either don't want anymore or couldn't move to their new place, so expect to see lots of random junk piles as well as junk pickers rummaging around and looking for stuff.

    Yard sales are very common in June before moving day. People sell everything - clothes, shoes, jewelry, kitchen stuff, small appliances, small pieces of furniture, toys, board games, etc. Unfortunately, many pets are also abandoned that day because many apartments here don't accept pets.

    People who don't hire a moving crew will often have their friends help them move. I did this for a friend in 2014 - we loaded all his stuff into a small truck he had rented, then unloaded everything in his new place. He didn't have a lot of stuff and his new place wasn't very far from the old one, so it didn't take a lot of time or effort. After this, he treated us to dinner in a restaurant to thank us (though most of the time, a post-moving party involves pizza and beer at the host's new place rather than restaurant dinners).

    DIY parking reservation for a moving truck homemade sign on the parking space Yard sale on Prince Arthur street More of the yard sale Free stuff left outside - yours for the taking
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    Poutine - fast food, Quebec-style

    by fairy_dust Written Jan 4, 2014

    Poutine is a major item of Quebec cuisine, and everyone needs to try it at least once when visiting Montreal. It is made with fries, cheese curds, and gravy, and it's absolutely delicious. For the poutine to be truly good, the cheese curds need to be fresh and make a squeaky sound when you chew them. Though be aware, because it's very fatty, it will sit like a brick in your stomach for a while.

    Pretty much every fast food place in Quebec has poutine on its menu, and there are some restaurants that include different styles of poutine with additional ingredients. There are also a few places that specialize in poutine (such as Poutineville).

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    Street fairs in the summer

    by fairy_dust Written Dec 11, 2013

    Every summer, there are several street fairs and sidewalk sales happening. They are in different parts of the city (depending on which week/weekend), mostly high-traffic areas with a lot of shops/boutiques and restaurants. The street is closed off to car traffic, and the shops and restaurants set up booths and racks for people to browse. Prices are usually cheaper than they are normally. There are also street performers and people handing out free samples (such as energy drinks, toiletries, etc).

    I love these sidewalk sales because the atmosphere is so much more festive and relaxed than it is normally. On a normal day, the car traffic makes the area into "business as usual", but when the road is closed and the vendors are out selling their stuff while people walk around, everything and everyone is so much more fun and friendly. In the area where I live (Plateau/Mile-End), there are several of these fairs happening every summer, mostly along St Laurent (The Main) and Mont-Royal. I also enjoy the ones downtown (along St. Catherine) and in NDG (along Monkland).

    Dresses for sale Jewelry and nick nacks for sale Street food Juice and smoothies My friend Susana doing a street performance
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    Outside stairs

    by albert34 Written Jun 9, 2012

    There are outside stairs everywhere.A 19th-century law in an attemp to securesome greenery for the city stipulated that a greenspace be left in front of buildings.This left less room on the lot for the building itself.The solution of putting staircases on outside took care of this problem by claiming as living space the area that would have been taken up by an indoor staircase.

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    CORDE A LINGE / washing line

    by henri123 Updated Dec 27, 2011

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    La corde a linge fait partie du paysage urbain.

    Il faut parcourir les ruelles de certains quartiers pour y découvrir de vraies oeuvres d'art.

    Washing line

    Don't hesitate to walk thrue the "ruelles" of montréal, that,s where you discover montrealer' s life.

    Multi-stories washing lines, balcony, smal gardens.

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    Come to "La cabane a sucre"

    by etrehumain Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Each march, every Quebecers need sugar to help them finish the very long winter. And what better way then going to a "sugar shack" and celebrate spring arrival. As soon as the moon is right, or the wind from the southwest blows a certain way, the maple syrup producers head into the sugar bush and begin tapping their trees. The buckets fill with a sweetish, watery liquid that will be boiled down to make the delicately flavoured syrup everyone loves on pancakes.

    In Montreal, there is fake sugar shacks on the Plateau Mont-Royal and in the Old Port, but for the real deal you will need to go outside the city and travel around 30 minutes (mostly on the south shore of Montreal) to find a place where traditional music and food are served. If your are here end march of beginning of april, you have to try it.

    Sugarland Fake Cabane on the Plateau Remember the old days... Many ways to maple yourself The original maple syrup
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    Ice Skating Under the Stars

    by Stellaluna Updated Apr 4, 2011

    If you're looking for something to do on a cold day or evening head to the Bonsecours Basin for ice skating. You can skate to music on a surface that is one and a half times bigger than a regular ice rink!

    There are free lockers and storage space inside Bonsecours Pavilion. Bring your own lock. If you want to rent skates you can also do it here. You'll need to leave a driver's license or a credit card.

    Monday : jazz and swing music evening, form 6 to 9 p.m.
    Tuesday : classical music evening, from 6 to 9 p.m.
    Wednesday : Figure skating lessons, from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Thursday : Francophone music evening, from 7 to 10 p.m.
    Friday : Latin rhythms music evening, from 7 to 10 p.m.
    Saturday : Break the ice! evening with DJ, from 6 to 9 p.m.
    Sunday : I learn to skate... (lessons for children of 3 to 12 y.o.), from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

    Rates : Daily rate
    Individual: $4
    Child (6 to 12): $3
    Child under 6: free
    Family*: $12

    Seasonal pass
    Individual: 20 $
    Family*: 40 $
    Additional child: 10 $

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    Molson Breweries

    by jamiesno Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Canadian's drink a lot of beer and Molson Canadian is one of the more popular brands for sure brewed in Montreal.

    Unfortunately the Coors company now own a lot of this company so its hard to say if its still Canadian now or if your drinking KKK beer as a friend keeps reminding me :-).

    In any event there is an element of pride involved here.

    Molson Breweries

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    Mambo Italiano

    by rmdw Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Long before I ever moved to Montreal there was an hilarious play here called "Mambo Italiano". It was autobiographical in nature, written about the [gay] screenwriter's life growing up in an Italian family in Montreal.

    They finally turned it into a movie and it is so incredibly funny!!! While some might make "ethnic slice of life" comparisons between it and "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding", it has a unique charm, all on its own.

    It also offers an insightful view into Montreal with some great scenes from around the city!

    Mambo Italiano, the Movie
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    If your interested in learning our culture...

    by Deus_ultima Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    For those really interested in understanding the people here, I STRONGLY suggets this book: 'Une enfance Bleu-Blanc-Rouge'

    It's a collection of short stories that are related to hockey, for sure, but trought it, you'll better understand who we are and why.

    P:S: A TOUS LES QUÉBECOIS! Ce livre saura surement tirer quelques doux souvenirs de votre enfance.

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    NOW..this is interesting...

    by Deus_ultima Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    NOW..this is an interesting book..
    Le Livre Noir Du Canada Anglais
    (Canada's black book (loose translation)
    Writen by Normand Lester (ex-journalist for Canada's national broadcasting company), this is a collection of different things picked-up in Canada's national archives. Lester, tired of seeing the CBC picturing only the good sides of the country in little clips on TV (which were really used for propaganda and secretely funded by the 'Ministere du Patrimoine' which used a fake company to divert the funds.) At the same time, a lot of anglophone media where depicting Quebecers as fascits, rascists, hicks, etc. And they even compared EVERY SINGLE PM we elected to Hitler..
    SO,this book was his response. It basically shows how Canada 'has made itself guilty of crimes, violation of human rights and exclusion of all those that weren't lucky enough to be white, protestant anglo-saxons.' as Lester says. 'it demontrates different injustices and how some english canadian politician, journalists and intelectuals were encouraging violence and discrimination against the french canadians, jews, japanese and natives'

    This book was the hotest buy this christmas!!


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    Fly The Flag!!!

    by Marisola Updated Dec 5, 2010

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    Quebecers (Kay-beck-ers) are very proud of being from Quebec. They fly their flag with pride on special holidays: Flag Day (January 21) and Quebec Day - St. Jean Baptiste (June 24th) and any other day!

    The flag is called the Fleurdelisé and has four French fleur de lys flowers on a bright blue and white background. You'll be sure to see it very often in Quebec, "La Belle Province," The Beautiful Province.

    Quebec Flag Quebec Flag Quebec Flag
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  • Jaywalking: when in Rome...

    by Telse Written May 29, 2009

    It seems like travellers don't really need to wait at a crosswalk to cross the street--plenty of Montrealers jaywalk. In fact, I saw more jaywalking in one week than in the 20 years I've been alive. People cross at crosswalks at red lights, dart across the road when they feel like it, and sometimes even if cars are approaching. Make sure you have travel insurance when copying the locals on this custom...

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    Maple Syrup

    by GracesTrips Written May 8, 2009

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    As you can see when you are in Canada, Maple Syrup is a huge part of it's culture. So, it makes sense to try some type of maple syrup product. My daughter and I ate these tiny ice cream cone looking morsels that are filled with a maple syrup filling topped with a creamy maple syrup frosting. All I can say is that it was just tooo sweet! It looked appetizing but don't let that fool you. My daughter, on the other hand, enjoyed it.

    We brought home some maple syrup hard candies that are shaped as a maple leaf. Those are actually pretty good. We also brought home maple syrup in the maple leaf glass containers. When we were out and about town, we checked out the prices. They were extremely expensive (I thought). So, on our way home, we got to the airport, we decided to buy it there and that turned out to be the best deal. Not only were the prices cheaper, we also didn't have to pay the 15% sales tax.

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