I’ve spent the day here in Montreal taking in the local sites and enjoying the fresh winter weather outdoors. No doubt, this is a city and a province that celebrates the winter–embraces it with zeal and encourages its citizens to do the same. This week, for example, is the city’s Igloofest, where fans of electronic dance music celebrate outside with their special brand of trance music played al fresco on a pier on the St. Lawrence river, with small igloos to warm themselves up.
In a small park in Old Montreal, we came across four black metal fire-pits, part of the ‘Cozy Zones’ set up where people can warm up by the fires. Next to the pits is a sign that provides advice-the top 10 things to do in winter, like run a holiday movie marathon, lick a cold post, dress to impress in your finest onesie at Igloofest, and most of all, keep calm and carry on this winter. The point is, it’s cold here, we all get that, and the best advice is to layer and go out and have fun.
We enjoyed a snowshoe trek in the Mount Royal park, with an enthusiastic guide named Amanda Coffey, who told us she takes people out on Friday and Saturday nights in the dark along these trails, and they do the tours one night in English and the other in French. “You can see because of all the light that comes up from the city, your eyes adjust.”
The trail was paved with fresh snow, and after we got the hang of keeping the snowshoes on, it was a relaxing and fun activity–enhanced by the hot chocolate we enjoyed while viewing the city from the beautiful Belvedere look-out, that provides commanding views of the St Lawrence and the city and the distant mountains.
While we were walking the streets of the Mile End neighborhood, we stopped by what has been called an institution here in Montreal. That would be La Binerie Mount Royal, a little joint where Montreal specialties are served, like Pate Chinois, Ragout de Pattes et boulettes, and poutin. Binerie has to do with the baked beans that are served in little dishes. These hearty Quebecois dishes are mostly simply meat and carbs, but are to any Montrealer, they are as dear to their hearts as the Montreal Canadiens.