Montreal, Quebec | Why not… why let the summer end now…

Montreal was founded in 1642 and is Canada’s second most populated city with about 1.7 million people and a metropolitan population of 4.2 million people.

Click (continue reading) below to view the full post about my trip to Montreal:

Storage is pretty full to the top. I have some overflow boxes at Shelly’s since about 4 of these tubs are things I have listed on Facebook Marketplace at the moment. My goal is to fit everything I own into this storage locker. Most of it is camping and hiking gear and clothes.

Packed up my stuff into my storage unit and tagged along with Jennie to Montreal where she was staying with her son in Montreal where he lives with his partner Micheal. Jennie is staying for a month before she leaves for Thailand the first week of October. I’m going to stay 5 nights with them and then 4 nights with Darlene who I met when I was shooting weddings. I “second-shot” a wedding in Toronto with her back in 2006 and she has been in Montreal for quite some time now in Lasalle. I picked up a ticket from Montreal to Oshawa as an escape fare for $84 which is pretty good for the 4.5-hour train ride home.

We left Peterborough kind of late in the day closer to 9 pm. We arrived at their place in Point St. Charles at 2 am. The drive was perfect with so much stuff in the car blocking out the rearview mirror there was no light in my eyes from trucks and cars.

I have not been to Montreal since my Grade 12 basketball season when our team at Denis O’Connor came out to play 3 exhibition games and we stayed downtown and had two evenings to ourselves to roam the city as 18 year olds looking to have a beer and watch strippers swing around a pole.

Looking at the map now of the city… I don’t know which way is up or what is here. Plotted some places on the map and where we are staying and I’ll try and figure it out as the small amount of days goes by.

Beautiful first morning in Montreal at the flat of Drew + Micheal. Charming streets with overgrown trees and older houses with city charm. I find myself using google maps anywhere travelled by car. Sometimes you have to drive in a circle to go a straight distance from home. There are lots of one-way streets. Tons of bike lanes and remember… you can’t turn left at a red light.

The first day was a sleep-in day and lots of Googles to see what was up around us and in the city. In the evening the four of us jumped on the Metro and headed downtown into the city for some AYCE Sushi. With the four of us ordering lots of food… it all came flying out at once and filled the table. We had to play dish traffic cop and push it all around so it fits.

After that, we walked around in the late summer evening downtown.

One of the first couple of nights it was after 10 pm and was hungry and hit an old deli that has been serving the community of St. Henri & Montreal for the past 74 years. Hit this spot for two late nights. Just an old-school diner where the food was excellent.

What late-night snack needs a little push down the food hole than Mr. Puffs.

Salted-Caramel was my fave. You guessed it… picked this up two nights in a row since it’s across the street on Rue Notre Dame from Greenspot shown above this.

What a lovely brewery with a little mystery shack located right beside it perched way up high. In 2019, someone or a group of people mysteriously painted the top cabin pink. It was painted in stages at night and it confuses the owner who would have done that and how. At Christmas, someone put a Christmas tree up there and also some curtains. It now has a window flower box installed on the side. The abandoned malt plant has the first 3 floors barricaded to keep people out that like to explore urban abandoned buildings.

The brewery beside it that makes St. Ambroise beer is a great little spot on the patio for drinks and food.

On another trip downtown and walked around outside and popped into the Eaton Ctr to check out the “Time Out Market” that I had a chance to visit in Lisbon Portugal which features food from some of the restaurants in the city in a simple format.

Le Red Tiger was recommended by Jennie’s Son Drew. So yummy to dip the Bahn Mi into the soup after dipping into the sauce. I had to steal the spoon for a souvenier since I have my beer glass from the one in Lisbon.

Later in the day, we took a drive downtown to tour a little to get some ideas of the city to explore more. We drove around Old Montreal by the water and then up St. Laurent Blvd which runs North to South.

It’s a popular cultural street with lots of shops and places to dine. The street is also known as “The Main”. It serves as the division of East & West Montreal. It also divided Montreal by language, ethnicity and class. English speaking to the West and French to the East.

Below are some of the painted murals on the side of the buildings which stand out and give this place so much ambiance and vibrance that buzzes around you.

Cinema L’Amour was built in 1914 as a theatre hall/movie house called “Le Globe” It was renamed “The Hollywood” in 1932. In 1969 it was renamed “The PussyCat” which featured adult films. In 1981 it was renamed Cinema L’Amour and is the oldest movie house of its’ kind in Montreal and is one of the last remaining adult movie houses with a VIP balcony section with loveseats for couples.

Above: In the Jewish district of Montreal you will find the famous Schwartz Deli. It was established in 1928 by Ruben Schwartz from Romania. This place is a cultural institution in Montreal. We stopped in and grabbed a smoke meat sandwich on Rye with Mustard and some fries and also a whole pickle. The smoke meat has a strict 10-day curing time. Schwartz also is the creator of Montreal steak seasoning spice.

The restaurant has 5 owners over time. The current owners are a partnership between two families. One owns Baton Rouge Restaurant and the other is the family of the late husband of Celine Dion who owns Nickles Restaurants.

Jennie and I stopped at all the murals along the street to photograph them as we walked around this cool neighbourhood.


 

In 1919, Isadore Shlafman arrived in Canada and opened the first bagel bakery in Montreal. It was called the Montreal Bagel Bakery. It was located at the back of a lane, just off of Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, which was then known as “The Main”. This is where Montrealers got their first taste of bagel, rolled by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven. This was the very first bagel bakery in Montreal.

In 1949, Grandfather Isadore move from Saint-Lawrence Boulevard over to Fairmount street. He bought a charming little cottage, and proceeded to knock down the back wall of the house, and built his bagel oven right there. He and his family lived upstairs, and when Grandfather Isadore went to work, he went downstairs and baked the bagel right there in his house. His son, Jack, learned the art of baking bagels and joined the business. They continued the tradition of rolling their bagel by hand and baking them in their wood-fired ovens. Since they were now located on Fairmount street, they renamed the bakery “The Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery”.

Before driving back home, we picked up some bagels and cream cheese from Fairmount Bakery along with capers and some smoked salmon.

The bagel style was “everything”… they were delicious and didn’t last long back at home.

Used my Dad’s phone to snap some photos and keep my battery alive. I didn’t know that the images would have a watermark. I need to figure out how to turn this off.

Went downtown to Rue St. Catherine which weaves through different districts in Montreal. A little hole-in-the-wall place called “Picks” had excellent burgers and also Krogos which is a hot dog cooked in the batter but this place cooks wrapped up in cut french fries.

We picked up takeout and sat in a little cute park and ate it in the evening twilight as people practiced Yoga and some students practiced boxing in an outdoor class. St. Catherine was closed down for a street festival so we walked in the street which was lovely.

I went with Darlene and Sara who I was now staying with for a couple of nights before taking the Via Train back to Toronto.

Darlene’s cute little place has a great little balcony that overlooks the backyards and lots of people sit out in the evenings and mornings and talk to each other and also sit and relax and enjoy the calm.

Darlene (pictured above), who I met when we both did wedding photography way back in the early 2000s. She came into Toronto and needed a second shooter and I tagged along with one of my first weddings back in 2005.

Darlene has a cute little apartment between the bike paths of the Lachine Canal and also the beautiful paths along the St. Lawrence River near Nun’s Island. I borrowed her bike and her roomate Sara joined me for a trip along the water and over to Nun’s Island.

Following Sara along the streets on the way to follow the paths along the water as other people bike, walk and enjoy the greenbelt along the water.

Sara met up with a friend on Nun’s Island and I biked back to Darlene’s and stopped maybe for poutine. Maybe it was large that was about 19 bucks and worth it.

Here is the path from Darlene’s that we used to follow the water to head over to the Island and then snake down to the bottom before heading back home after picking up an ice tea and wishing the world peace on a pedestrian-friendly street that was closed to car traffic all summer long.

The little beach was sweet to lie on and get some sun. The water of the St. Lawrence was refreshing and warm in the shallow water between the beach and Nun’s Island.

Can’t go wrong with more poutine. 😉

Another trip to where Fairmount Bagels is. Right beside it is this little hole in the wall with $5 Gnocchi.

Which we had to wait for them to make more… so we lined up ice cream which is super busy shown below.

While waiting for ice cream… I went into the little cafe below for coffee and walked out with some Italian pastries and some little Portegise Nata tarts. Why the hell not? Then the Gnocchi should be ready after they make another batch.

Gnocchi is ready. $6 for the extra cheese. It was really yummy shown below. Here is the strip of places with the little cafe out of the frame to the left (shown below)

(above) Left to Right and out of frame is the Caffe Grazie-Mille and then the ice cream place called Kem CoBa where you see the colourful benches out front. The Gnocchi place is right before Fairmount Bagel you see far right. The Italian Gnocchi place is called Drogheria Fine and they have pasta sauce that is made on site and the jars are on sale in the closet-sized shop.

Micheal & Drew brought us downtown to a little trendy shisha lounge. I’ve never been to a Hookah Bar. A Negroni for me and Porn Star for Jennie we hung out with two of their friends. A cool little spot.

Sara and Darlene picked up some things to make a “hotpot” and we cooked it at the kitchen table. It was so so delicious. It was Sara’s idea and she picked the kit and items we needed.

I have never had this and it was so much fun.

Thank you for having me… Drew & Micheal (above) + Jennie as well as Darlene & Sara. When Jennie asked me if I wanted to tag along with her to her Son’s in Montreal to close out the summer… I could not say no 😉

Jennie dropped me off at the station downtown. A little Rotten-Ronnie’s with a big ass coffee and it was time to check in for my VIA train to Ontario.

Montreal was great. The weather was great and I can’t wait to be back. Would love to come with the kids in a van with our bikes and explore the city more!

The trip on the train was smooth and I was in Oshawa in about 4.5 hours and then made the trip up north back to Peterborough. What a great trip to close out the summer!

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