We left Halifax by plane, all our train journeys now being finished, and went back to Montréal for a week of sightseeing and playing with Hélène and her beautiful family.
We stayed in a studio in Rue Montcalm and I was delighted by the number of small gardens dotted about the neighbourhood. We had several in our street and they were in full bloom. The featured image in this post shows one such garden, which had seats and lots of trees in it. Some are community gardens growing vegetables. Such a lovely thing to see in the middle of a city.
We took the opportunity to visit places we hadn’t previously visited, such as the Jean-Talon market.
On the very long walk to the markets, we came across this rather wonderful shop and stopped in for a look.
The shop is a wholesaler, but does sell to the general public. However, you need to know exactly what you want and the owner explained that she will then conjure the item out of thin air. We got talking about the business and I was told that they are the most expensive shop in Montréal – I have to say I appreciated her frankness, but apparently it’s because they carry a great deal of stock. They are mostly set up for students and designers, but I was sad to hear that the shop will disappear in the next few years as the owner is in her eighties and her children have no interest in the business. So, if you want something unusual and you are visiting this city, get yourself in there before it’s too late!
In my first post on Montréal I put up a photo of me on Mont Royal during the day, but Hélène and her husband, Richard, took us up at night, and what a spectacle it was!
We stayed in an area known as “the Village” and enjoyed exploring our locale and doing some people watching. The Rue Sainte-Catherine is partly a pedestrian mall and is a main commercial artery in downtown Montréal. It is beautifully decorated and lovely to visit. It seems that many people in gophers gravitate there because of the lack of traffic. I really enjoyed the sight of a car radio wired into this gopher and a couple of people sitting listening to the radio. My Dad would have loved this!
Montréal is jam packed with stunningly beautiful buildings. This chateau style building intrigued us as we couldn’t find it on the map and it didn’t have any public signage. So we did what anyone would do and took a wander through it, only to find ourselves strolling around the offices of a private company – oops!
We visited le Musée de la mode which has a long running exhibition called Pignon sur rue in Montreal (fabric and textiles) highlighting thirty companies which were all created in Montréal and which produced ready-to-wear clothing for men, women and children, including furs, lingerie, shoes, leather goods, jewellery, cosmetics and wedding dresses. The exhibition explores the journey of garment manufacturing in Montréal for the last 170 years, and I was disappointed to note that most of these manufacturers have since gone out of business.
The buildings surrounding the museum are exquisite. Here is an example.
As we walked we explored many hidden delights – I love to look down alleyways.
This bronze sculpture amused me. I’m sure that most women would look at it and think of the good friends with whom they share their lives. I like to think that the woman on the left is talking about her latest sewing project.
Another beautiful building is the Hotel Gault. I was immediately reminded of Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, which has the persistent question: “who is John Gault?”
My lovely friend Hélène took me fabric shopping. It is always such a privilege to go fabric shopping with a local.
First we went to Club Tissus, which is a cooperative. It is a very big shop, reminding me of a small Spotlight, but with better quality goods all beautifully presented. I managed to resist buying fabric here, although I saw many things that I could easily have adopted.
We then visited Rue St Hubert in Little Italy. This area is noted by Seamwork Magazine and Closet Case Patterns, and Sew-Eng has created a whole downloadable PDF which is available free on Craftsy. This street is definitely worth a visit. It is full of interesting shops and a whole day could easily be spent here – should you have the stamina!
I bought some bits and bobs from Tissus Marina
but my favourite store had to be Ultratext, mostly because the proprietor was so affable (and generous).
The good news is that I spent less than $10 on the whole expedition and only added one piece of fabric to the stash.
In our meanderings, Mark and I had noticed this little Atelier.
“Libre” means free, so I was rather intrigued and went and asked about it. Everything in this shop is donated and the shop itself is run by volunteers. People can come and learn to sew, knit or do other crafts and it is basically free, although a donation is welcomed. There is a coffee shop in one corner, with cakes, and it looks like a really good time is had by all. I loved the fact that there were children in here participating as well.
Mark and I decided to walk across the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which had featured in Montréal’s 375th birthday celebrations. I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t scary, and I think my hand language here says it all!
However, the views from the bridge are splendid and you can get a good sense of the layout of Montréal.
This is a photo that Mark took and which we both thought was rather lovely.
So today we say goodbye to Montréal and to Canada. It’s been wonderful and I’m going to have the best memories of our time here.
I can’t end the post without acknowledging the hospitality and generosity of Hélène and her family. They looked after us the whole time we were in Montréal and showed us such a good time, and by the end I considered her my French sister. We did so much that I can’t include it in this post, so there are two more posts coming on our activities.