As Canada turns 150, deputy editor Alex Laws looks back on having lived a decade in this country — her 10-year Can-niversary — and reflects on seven spots that have stolen her heart. In this instalment, she’s mad on Montreal.
My love affair with Montreal began when it filled the music-festival void in my life. Over the three years I attended Osheaga, the city’s annual three-day celebration of music and art, performances from bands like Florence and the Machine to Haim, Eminiem to Snoop Lion, left the city buzzing with eclectic musical culture. Departing the festival site, it seemed the architecture of the city had given itself over to the sound, too. Old theatres became atmospheric venues for smaller shows (the experience of sipping on a vodka soda while watching the Arkells felt like I had joined the ranks of the elite) or dance clubs across this city.
My memories of food are intrinsically linked to the infectious culture of the place, too. A mind-blowing eight-course meal at Le Bremner felt like dinner theatre thanks to the energy and flair of the bartender — who burst into tears at one point and stormed out, which just added to the drama — as well as the freshness of the flavours: PEI oysters, beef carpaccio, a rich lamb-neck cavatelli and fluffy pancakes. And at the beautiful Le Cartet, even hungover on a hot day, I couldn’t resist a hot skillet of beans, sausage and egg, a dish that made me sweat so much the experience was almost spiritual.
Montreal is a destination for events and activities, and its scenery and architecture house secret treasures. For me it’s now a familiar port as I often stop there on my way to other destinations across the border. But I refuse to depart without stopping at the Atwater Market for unbelievably fresh croissants and mouthwatering burrata — and the excuse to speak some French, even if just for a hot minute.