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Oh Canada! 10 Things I Learned About You Montreal!

Folks, it’s hard for me to admit this but I will…I’ve lived in Buffalo all of my life and have never visited Montreal and Quebec City. What the heck is wrong with me? Why not get the feel of Europe without the going to Europe? There is no time like the present they say…and off we went (my husband Evan and our daughter Caroline) and if you don’t mind, I’d like to share our trip with you. So here is goes…

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Outside the Notre Dame Bascilia

10 Things I Learned

  1. They speak French! Bon jour. Salut. Merci. It’s fantastic! I have gained so much respect for Montreal and Quebec City for preserving the French language. Montreal is the second largest city behind Paris for French speaking. Oui Oui!! What a beautiful language and hearing it spoken so easily and fluently only entices you to buy a Rosetta Stone package. It was so fascinating that you are greeted with a Bon Jour and if you respond with a Hello, you are immediately spoken to in English and visa vera. Imagine a city of bilinguals ! Who doesn’t appreciate a city that sets it self apart and holds onto their culture? The public school system requires French to be their central language,  but they will start teaching both languages in 1st grade. Again,how easy it would be to throw in the towel and make English their primary language. Students are required to attend French speaking schools and the only exception is if you are a temporary resident or attend a private school.Most people in Montreal speak both French and English fluently. This makes feel more cultured and adds some European grace to the city.

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    A little bit of French and a little bit of English. Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world behind Paris.

  2. Montreal and Toronto are rivals. I was not aware of this intense rivalry. Montreal had many of it’s companies move their headquarters to Toronto which has 6 million people and Montreal has 4 million. Montreal has the philosophy of work to live and in Toronto it is live to work. Montreal is home to a beautiful park system including Mount Royal Park is located on the mountain and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same person that designed New York’s Central Park and our very own Delaware Park. Montreal citizens love being outdoors, flowers, patio dining, parks and recreation, anything to enjoy life! They enjoy having extra money to enjoy life so much that they all prefer renting apartments and housing there, instead of owning, as owning has extra expenses such as insurance, updating, etc. They would rather rent and use whatever is leftover for enjoying their lives rather than being stuck in one place. They all move on the same day too- July 1st! Keep this in mind when traveling, for either a draw back, or free entertainment if you are there..haha! Disclaimer, I did hear the differences between the 2 cities from a Montrealer.IMG_5847

  3. Churches. Notre Dame Basilica, Saint Patrick Basilica, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, and St Joseph Oratory of Mont Royal. I’m just naming a few, honestly, they are basically on every street corner. Destinations for pilgrims!! Strong Catholic Influence which still remains their number one religion. 67% of the populations are Christians and the majority of those are Roman Catholics. But, rates of regular religious attendance has reduced dramatically since the 1960’s. If you want to see impressive and jaw dropping splendor do not miss these magnificent churches.

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    Inside the glorious Notre Dame Basilica…over 2 million people a year visit.

  4. Montreal will be celebrating it’s 375 birthday in 2017. Yes, it was founded in 1642 and they are planning a big celebrations, they are redoing just about every road and fixing bridges, making the city even more beautiful than it is already.  As history has it, Samuel de Champlain set about creating a fur trading post, in 1642 the first real colony named Ville Marie was established. It became known as Montreal because of the tallest peak on the Island known as Mont Royal.  DSC_0850

  5. The Underground City. One of the largest underground networks in the world, Montreal’s underground city is a series of shops and tunnels which offer citizens cool shortcuts and safety from the cold in winter months. You can literally live underground if you wanted to. Only problem is, there is no map of the underground, the only people who generally know all ways around are tour guides and engineers, although most Montreal residents may be more well versed than you think.

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    Underground shopping

  6. Montreal was home to the 1976 Summer Olympics, you know, the Olympics where  Nadia Comăneci received the first perfect 10 in gymnastics’ history and Bruce Jenner won the decathlon. They were the first Olympics ever held in Canada, and it helped put Montreal on the map world wide. You can see the Olympic Stadium, pool, arena, village are all being utilized today, which is so much better than seeing pictures of venues falling into disrepair in cities where the Olympics were once held. Great job Montreal to keep using the venues.

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    Off in the distance you can see the 1972 Olympic stadium still in use today. It is covered now. It needs to be open air for the Olympics because the Greek Gods needed to be able to watch from up above.

  7. Montreal is actually an island.  I did not know this before I went there, but it is surrounded by water, and after this trip my family and I grew in your appreciation for the Saint Lawrence River and all it’s fresh water glory.DSC_0437

  8. Beautiful architecture gems built of stone and brick were required materials as opposed to wood. You see, past fires forced lawmakers to completely outlaw this scenario. It makes for darling walks in Old Montreal, cobblestone streets, ornate details each more unique than the next, all beautiful and well preserved. DSC_0846

  9. Maple Syrup.  85% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec, Montreal’s Provence. The maple sap collected used to make maple syrup is also used to make all kinds of maple goodies including maple butter, maple candy, maple water, marinades and even maple syrup on ice where it is rolled up on a popsicle stick. I will admit it, we tried maple and pepper homemade potato chips, oh my maple! Those exceeded our expectations.

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    Yummy maple syrup products

  10. No big high risers. nothing can be built higher than Mont Royal. A reason for the city’s namesake, Mount Royal is a defining feature of Montreal. The mountain stands above the entire city, offering a great view of the skyline, and will stay that way due to building height restrictions which limit any construction from being higher than Mount Royal.

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    Bon Travail Montreal!

 

More Fun Facts

The french language was actually preserved because of the Americans. It was during the stages before the American Revolution when Britain first outlawed the French language in Montreal, Americans wanted to gain followers and a larger army against the British, and asked the citizens of Montreal to join their revolution. The people of Montreal at this time, did not know how the Americans would succeed, so they told Britain they were considering it. Through this action, Britain negotiated with them, saying they could continue to speak French if they did not join the revolution, which made the decision easy. Better to go with the evil you know than the evil you are unsure of, right? We won’t know, history has a beautiful way of influencing future, and as I mentioned earlier, I love how well preserved their language is.

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All stone and brick buildings…streets in Quebec City

Eat like the locals…poutine (think macaroni and cheese with french fries and gravy), ketchup chips, croissants, Molsons, Carlsberg, maple leaf maple sandwich cookie. Wait, they eat and drink all that in Canada yet they look so fit? Hmm, oh, yes, lots of waking and lots of it hilly. But they get offended when you say that “h” word (hill), they prefer everyone use the term mountain, as Mount Royal is the focal point of their city…the mountain!

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You guessed it…poutine

You know, we can all grumble, and in Montreal people grumble about their politicians, debts, construction, high rent, high taxes and cold winters….but as an outsider coming in you see the beauty with a pair of fresh eyes. You hear the tour guide say that the Catholic church is dropping in numbers yet the pilgrims come in the millions and there is not a single candle to light in Notre Dame Basilica. Look at what was done by those who came before us. So many looked for the greater good and put their hard work and talent into building these astonishing works of beauty in the churches, who set aside acres for parks, and built so much for the hosting of the Olympics and World Fair for all to enjoy today.

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The Holy Door of St. Anne De Beaupre

Keep your eye on the good that surrounds us. Stay amazed at the workmanship and sacrifices that were made for us and future generations to see and appreciate. Such beauty.

Thank you all for reading,

Sincerely Trish

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Montreal in the background.

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Montmorency Falls

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Look! It’s Samuel de Champlain…a fur trader who founded Quebec in 1608. Feels so good to remember all who have gone before us and given us all so much.