I left my town of Victoria, British Columbia, to follow a childhood dream of mine to conquer the east of Canada and more particularly: Montréal.
I have been living there for the past 2.5 years and must say I don’t regret moving here one bit. This City has been welcoming and full of opportunities.
Here are a few things I love about Montréal and that you may want to consider if you want to move there.
1 — Its diversity
The first neighborhood I lived in was Côte des Neiges for two years. It is home of two universities, a busy center road with all the stores you may need, and more admirably it is home to 160 ethnicities. Over 50% of its resident were not born in Canada — just like me ! — making it an ideal place for newcomers in Montréal.
When living there, you will see a great diversity of people coming with their own cultures, colors, languages and no visible minorities as everyone is bringing different backgrounds. You will find that level of diversity it in its restaurants, going from Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Cubin etc.
I have been loving this feeling of Montréal being a “melting pot” of cultures which you can learn a lot from by interacting with the local communities and attended events they host.
2 — The festival culture
It’s no secret that Montréal gets very cold in the winter, so the summer is jammed packed with festivals! Winter is time for coziness in coffee shops and exploring art galleries and book stores while summer drags you out of the house as much as you want it to.
A lot of the festivals organized by the City of Montréal are free, so a wide audience is able to participate.
Here are some of the fests I have attended and particularly enjoyed:
- The Mural Fest (picture on this article). For eleven days, urban artists from all over the world come together to paint the City, literally. There are many murals on display and that’s the only time of the year where cops would allow you to spray paint walls near St-Laurent Street.
- The Jazz Fest. Ok that’s a big one! Renowned artists come to play jazz, some concerts are outdoors and free and usually performed by local talents. Different scenes will pop up in different areas of the City for you to simply enjoy the music.
- The Fringe Fest. This one is a must if you like live theatrical performance and improv like I do. Some of the shows presented are very underground, sometimes hosted at the performers’ house.
- Piknic Électronik. Every Sunday, all summer long, you can go chill with your friend at the Parc Jean Drapeau, sip on a beer and dance to the sound of electromusic.
- Just for laughs. Probably one of the most famous festival in Montréal, JFL brings out big names from the standup comedy world. I believe you have to pay for your tickets, prices vary depending on the artist, but I recommend trying random comedians to discover new talents.
- Festival of India. I really liked going to this event, I got to learn about different traditions celebrates in different parts of India and eating lots of good food.
That’s a non-exhaustive list of course. This year with COVID the majority of these events were canceled unfortunately — Montrealers look forward to their come back next year.
3— Local shops and associations
Montréal is full of local crafts, artisanal products, and generally food that’s locally made. It is very easy to be vegan here, as you will find tones of locally pressed tofu, seitan, vegan cheezes and many others. Most restaurants now offer vegan or vegetarian options by the way.
If you try to reduce your carbon footprint, you will also be able to find bulk stores and co-ops to get your bulk and dry food supply from. One of my favorite cooperative that aims to provide affordable, ethical and organic bulk food is NousRire. They heavily rely on their volunteers who each get to take dance, meditation and reading breaks.
4 — St Lawrence River & Mont Royal
One of my favorite part of the day is to walk along the St-Lawrence River which goes by not far from my home. Some areas of the park have been intentionally left untouched so you really feel like you are out in the nature, not in the City. Same goes for Mont Royal’s forest, which is home to many squirrels and raccoons.
5 — C’est le bordel
Montréal is a mess and that’s probably what I like most about it. Construction work in the summer make it impossible to drive through busy areas. This gives a wide mix of architectural styles. An example when you walk across downtown is to have very old churches next to a high rise building. It’s not rare to see two parallel streets vastly different from one another. In Montréal you will find corner stores, or “depanneurs” opened until late at night which haven’t been upgraded since the 70’s next to brand new constructions.
This picture I took the other day sums up the idea of mess it up pretty well — don’t you think?