Montreal is located in the province of Quebec, in eastern Canada. The city sits on an island at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ontario Rivers. Canada is a country that extends across an expansive land mass, but is inhabited by a comparatively small population. Much of that land mass is frozen for a good part of the year. Thus, the country is fondly referred to by its nick-name, “The “Great White North”. Montreal is the second most populous city in Canada according to 2017 estimates there are about 1.75 million within the city proper and slightly more than 4 million in the greater metropolitan area.
The city of Montreal enjoys a rich history. In the period before the arrival of European settlers the land was inhabited by Iroquois natives, then, French fur trappers populated the area, bringing with them French culture, Catholic religion, and diseases that were unknown to the aboriginals. Diseases like small pox, measles, and typhus had a devastating consequence on the natives and subsequently wiped out large numbers of their population.
A statue of Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, founder and first governor of Montreal, stands in the square called Place d’Arms.
Maisonneuve faces across from the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. The weather was quite warm but sitting in the square, under a shade canopy, while listening to a local performer play Beatles music was a nice way to beat the heat.
The tour of the basilica was only $6 and they were happy to allow photographs.
It is a beautiful old cathedral complete with stain-glass windows depicting the stations of the cross. Ornate alter and tremendous pipe organ.
Quebecois is the language of French Canadians, a slightly different dialect than standard French spoken in the mother country. Acadians are descendants of the French settlers who suffered greatly during the many colonial wars of the 17th and 18th Centuries. The Acadians populate what is now known as northeast Canada, to include part of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and some parts of Nova Scotia. Though many were driven from the region, by the British, after the French and Indian Wars. Some of these descendants returned to France. Some found there way to Louisiana (formerly a colony of France) where they became known as Cajuns and they speak another similar dialect to the French Canadians. The Metis. were aboriginals that had bred with the French settlers, creating descendants of mixed ethnicity.
In the modern era battles over Franco or Anglo identity have continued since Montreal was ceded by the French to the British at the end of the Seven Years War in 1760. There have long been political clashes over language and culture. At one point there was much talk of the French speaking regions seceding from Canada to form their own independent country. Hence the dual language (Quebecois and English) street signs and government documents.
As an American, it is always interesting to check in on our neighbors north of the Flannel Curtain!
There are plenty of great restaurants. Shop wisely, because there are also some not so great. Easy walking throughout the city with nice views and friendly people made for an enjoyable stay. The weather was mostly pleasant, but perhaps a bit warmer than I was expecting.
For some reason I forgot all about the world’s largest jazz festival held in Montreal every year since 1980. It occurs starting in late June and goes into early July. The city is worthy of another visit and perhaps including the jazz festival in the activity list would be fun. Maybe next year…
Canada also has a new policy on cannabis. Many Canadians have long had a tolerant attitude toward cannabis, and in the recent national election the winner, Trudeau stated he would move to fully legalize the herb. Though I am not a fan of the leftist / socialist / globalist agenda embraced by team-Trudeau, I do commend him for his stance on this matter and say, Good for you, Canucks! I am informed by locals in Montreal that while the decision to legalize has been approved, the particulars of legal age for consumption and other minutia will be hashed (pun intended) out during the coming year and legal sale should begin to blossom (another one!) by July of 2018.
I didn’t take many food pics on this trip. Mostly because we were too busy eating to take photos. Dinner on the first night in town was very good Classic French cuisine, place called Bonaparte and very expensive. One afternoon we walked over the hill from old town and were disappointed with a lunch we had in Chinatown. Two meals with friends; one in their home for a backyard BBQ and another at a place that served smoked meat. Both were big hits!
But frankly, some of the best meals were breakfast. I have a couple of good breakfast pics, but seem to have problem loading them on to the blog….I will figure it out later. We really enjoyed La Cartet, not far from the hotel and just great food! All the reviews I read indicated that weekend brunch is a long wait, but we ate here 3 of the 4 week-day mornings and had no trouble being seated directly and promptly served. Terrific selection of fresh, quality breakfast muffins stuffed with nuts and dried fruits, and hearty whole grain breads, eggs cooked to perfection (so very French!) and very efficient service. I would return to Montreal for their breakfast alone!
Update: I have figured out how to download pics from my camera to the blog using my new iMac.