Local traditions and culture in Montreal

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Montreal

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    How To Tell When You're In The Old City!

    by johngayton Updated Apr 15, 2009

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    When you are in the middle of the Old City you know that that's where you are - well the buildings are old aren't they? In the New City you can tell by the towering concrete and glass behomoths of the modern commercial buildings.

    There is however a sort of no man's land where the two meet and so the only way you can tell whether you're in the old or new is by the street signage. The Old City streets have white on red signs, whilst the New City has black on white - simple isn't it?

    Street Signage
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    RESO - Montreal's Underground City

    by johngayton Updated Nov 26, 2008

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    During the building of the Montreal Metro in the early 60's the Montreal City Authorities accepted a radical piece of design by an urban planner named Vincent Ponte who proposed the idea of developing not only the above ground plots freed up by the construction but also those below ground, the no-man's land of space which had never really been considered as having any value.

    Ponte's plan was to have a multi-level city separating pedestrians, urban traffic and public transit with each having their own space. To quote Ponte himself: "Everybody benefits, developers get more rent. Citizens not only have a new convenience of moving around, but the city becomes a richer, more diverse place. Tax revenues go up; the towns get a new image." By offering emphyteutic leases (whereby the City offered potential developers the real estate at relatively cheap rates with the proviso that the developments would involve value-added infrastructure projects at their own expense) the City of Montreal's downtown was able to expand not only upwards and laterally but downwards as well with most of the bill being picked up by private enterprise!

    The first underground project was the shopping complex in the area under Place Ville-Marie and Central Station, built in 1962, and by the time the first stages of the Metro were completed in 1966 there were 10 buildings connected directly to the original Metro stations providing the foundations of the network to be.

    Over the next 40 or so years the initially disparate developments became linked as several more major underground shopping malls were constructed, along with residential space; entertainments such as cinemas, bars and restaurants; services including barbers, dry-cleaners, shoe-repairers and even internet Wi-Fi zones. The present-day complex has over 32 kilometres of tunnels, underlying most of downtown, with more than 120 overground access points, signposted RESO (from the French Reseau, meaning network) with the final O containing the downward pointing arrow of the Metro symbol. It is possible to walk almost the whole breadth of downtown Montreal (about 2 miles in total) and never have to surface.

    This mole-like existence may sound like a bit of a futuristic nightmare but in fact the underground areas are spacious and well lit and considering that Montreal has harshly cold winters and uncomfortably hot summers the practicality of having an underground city within the city has proven understandably popular with the locals who can now work, shop, eat-out, socialise and generally get around without having to endure the extremeties of the elements nor the chaotic city traffic. The RESO is estimated to be used by over half-a-million people daily and the different sections have evolved their own characters much in the same way as the aboveground city has its own distinct neighbourhoods.

    This really is a rather fascinating and unique aspect of the City and one that is well worth further investigation at some future date.

    Wikipedia link has some useful facts, history and a a couple of really good links to maps.

    RESO Signage On St Catherine's The Main Hall at Central Station One of the many SAQ's! (Liquor Stores) One Of The Main One of the More Upscale
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    Montreal Row Houses

    by yooperprof Updated Jul 13, 2008

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    Row houses are a common sight in Montreal. (In fact, Montreal is said to have the most row houses of any city in North America.) In some places these homes are built on one of the steep streets leading up to Mont Royal. It reminds me a little bit of San Francisco! In general, the row houses are neat and tidy and contribute a great deal to the ambience of this interesting city.

    street scene
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    Recycling?

    by tiabunna Written Jan 24, 2008

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    One morning as we began our day's travels, I was amazed to find these piles of rubbish bags in the street. No bins, no sign of any recycling, just loose bags of undifferentiated rubbish! We had just come from Europe, where recycling is taken very seriously, as it is in Australia, and our friends in Nova Scotia also stressed the importance to us. Maybe I’m becoming “greener” with age, but it was surprising to find this in a large modern city!

    Montreal garbage
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    Flags everywhere!

    by tiabunna Updated Jan 18, 2008

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    One of our “first impressions” of Montréal was of the number of flags flying: far more, it seemed, than we were accustomed to seeing at home. It may have been simply because they were different, but they certainly were colourful – the Canadian flag we knew well, but guessing which was the flag for the Province of Québec and which for the city itself was a little more difficult. So I did some homework!

    The flag with the red cross is that of the City of Montréal and, although there seems to be some dissent about the origin of the cross (could it be the Cross of St George?) the other emblems are symbolic of the people with backgrounds in France, England, Scotland and Ireland.

    The flag for the Province of Québec (photo 2) is known as the Fleurdelisé and dates from 1948. The white cross comes from the ancient French royal flags, while the blue background and white “fleurs-de-lis” apparently are taken from a flag carried by French-Canadian militia and symbols of purity, honouring the Virgin Mary.

    And now you know too!

    Montr��al and Canada flags Province of Qu��bec and Montr��al flags
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    Kidmobiles

    by tiabunna Written Jan 18, 2008

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    We were quite taken by the sight of these two young ladies, pushing what seemed hordes of tiny tots out for a stroll and some fresh air. Maybe these “public transport” style kidmobiles are commonplace where you live, but we’d never before seen anything like them. Our guess is that they all come from a local creche or childminding centre – it seemed a little improbable that these were the children of large families!

    Multiple kids go for a ride, Montreal Having a breather with the tiny tots
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    Ogilvy's Christmas window

    by brazwhazz Written Nov 29, 2007

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    Every year since 1947, the Ogilvy department store sets up a Christmas window in its display. Called the Enchanted Village, it features many mechanical stuffed animals made by the world-renowned Steiff Company of Germany.

    The Enchanted Village can usually be seen from mid-November to early January, so if you're in Montreal at that time of the year, why not check it out, especially if you have kids travelling with you!

    Ogilvy is located at 1307 Ste-Catherine Street West, at the corner of De la Montagne Street. The nearest metro stations are Guy-Concordia and Peel.

    Enchanted Village 1 Enchanted Village 2
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    Would you mind standing to the right!

    by excentrus Updated Oct 27, 2007

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    One very strange thing I have noticed since I moved here is that people do not stand to the right when they are on escalators. This is particularily odd as Montrealers cue up for the buses on the streets in a very orderly fashion. I never understood this custom...even if you try to pass someone on the left they will generally not move over. I now laugh it off and RELAX. I mean, who is really in that much of a hurry :-)

    Escalator to metro level in Centre Eaton

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    Quick, there is a free table!

    by excentrus Updated Aug 4, 2007

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    As soon as the cold weather breaks, Montrealers throw on a "pull" and head out to find a terrace. Local restauranteurs can't wait to open there outside terraces and the tables appear as if by magic. These tables are pretty well occupied for 6 months of the year. Montrealers love their terraces...and they love to go out to eat, drink and be merry. You will find a lot of terraces in Old Montréal (check out the Jardin Nelson), on St-Denis Street, on Prince-Arthur Street and tucked away behind many restaurants.

    Terrace on de la Commune in Old Montreal

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    Montréal Tower / Olympic Park

    by windoweb Written Jul 19, 2007

    Built for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium is the Park’s centrepiece, a bold design by French architect Roger Taillibert. Impressive in size and shape, and topped by the tallest inclined tower in the world, the Olympic Stadium quickly became a choice location for major sporting events, rock concerts and public gatherings. A funicular-type elevator brings visitors to the top three observation floors, where they have a superb view of Montréal and its surroundings. Guided tours are available. The sports centre, at the foot of the Tower, has six aquatic pools as well as a multi-sport facility.

    Top of the Tower
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    Going Apple Picking

    by Gwenvar Updated Feb 25, 2007

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    Something that almost everyone over here likes to do at the start of autumn is to go apple picking in one of the numerous orchards around the city. This is an activity that we usually like to do as a family, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles are often included in this.

    Quote : 'The first apple trees arrived in New France in the baggage of Louis Hébert in 1617 but it was not until 1650 that the first orchard was planted by the Sulpicians on the slopes of Mont-Royal. The most prized varieties at the end of the 19th century were the Fameuse, Pomme Grise, Bourassa, Golden Russet, Tallman Sweet, Late Strawberry and Blue Permain.' * And here is where you can learn about the different varieties and get a good number of mouth watering recipes that you can make with the apples that you've picked.

    Below, a list of farms where you can go to pick your own apples... in French, but quite comprehensible. After all, all you need are the adresses and phone numbers...

    My uncle, his wife, my cousins and our grandmother My cousin Laurence being in sink with the trees My cousin Charles the monkey ;-) Old barn and apple tree Old fashioned loo
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    It all started here

    by ChuckG Updated Aug 23, 2006

    "Cirque du Soleil" is now world renowned. I saw them in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Quebec City and Montreal. Walking through Old Montreal, I found their world headquarter totally by coincidence. Note that they built a giant multiplex center in the East End. This building is more a symbol than a real head office...

    Cirque du Soleil headquarter

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    Poutine

    by Jim_Eliason Written Aug 22, 2006

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    This delicous local treat also is definitely a double bypass in a styrofoam cup. It consists of french fries and cheese curds all covered with gravy. Very good but not recommended for daily consumption.

    poutine
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    Eating Fresh Bagels

    by wahine76 Updated Jul 31, 2006

    One thing I cant live without is my daily bagel every morning! And I can tell you Montreal bagels are the best in the world. They really dont taste or look like the fat tasteless New York bagels! :) Our bagels are thin, sweet and really tender inside.

    The best places to get fresh bagels are St-Viateur Bagels (263 St. Viateur) and Fairmount Bagels(74 Fairmount West).

    The best way to reach the St-Viateur Bagel bakery or the Fairmount Bagel bakery if you are driving from downtown Montréal is to take Avenue du Parc (Park Avenue) going North until you reach Fairmount and then make a right turn until you arrive at your destination.

    St-Viateur is a few blocks after Fairmount and again you would turn right and you will find the bakery on your left-hand side. If you travel via the bus, take the 80 bus going north and either get off at Fairmount or St. Viateur.

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    Typical Fast food

    by wahine76 Updated Jul 31, 2006

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    I recommend you try at least once our typical fast food which is called "Poutine". Its only in Quebec.

    It might sound gross, but people just love it here, and I have never met anyone who didnt like poutine. Poutine is actually fries, with gravy and curd cheese. There are other kinds like the "italian poutine" which is made with fries, spaghetti sauce and curd cheese.

    All the fast food joints offer poutine including "Burger King" and "McDonald's". But the best place to get it is at a "Belle Province" restaurant.

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