mtl2We’re very fortunate in TORONTO to be within easy reach of another major metropolis with great architecture, fine food, theatre and nightlife, elegant shops, funky neighbourhoods – etc, etc. You don’t have to cross a border to get there and the dollar is strong and healthy.

mtl3Take the train, as I did last weekend, and 5 hours & 350 miles later you’re in MONTREAL, Canada’s second largest city.

mtl4Friday was crisp and sunny –  checked into L’Appartement Hotel, 455 Sherbrooke Street (perfectly fine and reasonably priced); visited several art galleries in the Belgo Building on Ste. Catherine Street, and then a concert by the OSM (Montreal Symphony Orchestra).  <IMAGE ABOVE“I met a witch through a mutual acquaintance.  Excitedly I asked her if she could put my soul in a bottle so that I could be embodied in my own work.  She told me that she would not, that it would be like asking her to kill me.  She said that she could put in a part of my spirit and animate that object with an essential part of my being.  MILUTIN GUBASH, the artist –  “I don’t know what the witch did or whether she did what she said she would, but I want to believe that artworks can live and walk and breathe and think.  I believe her like I believe an artist.”

mtl5Saturday cloudy – the Santa Claus Parade, then the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Musee des Beaux Arts, followed by the William Notman exhibit (photographer to Queen Victoria) at the McCord Museum, and a Beatles recreation with 16-piece orchestra at the Maisonneuve Theatre.

mtl10<A Micro-Bibliotheque>


Sunday – freezing rain.  Excellent brunch at Juliette et Chocolat (finest galettes anywhere including Paris, squash soup and a chocolate crepe)

mtl12<Montreal Biennale at the Museum of Contemporary Art>

mtl14<‘LA PLONGEE’, an installation by Michelle Furlong on Ste. Catherine Street East>

mtl9mtl16<Ended the day at Carre St-Louis, one of MONTREAL’s most beautiful parks.  Still pouring rain.  Snow to follow.>



MONTREAL4She’s about twice TORONTO’s age, with a deserved reputation for good times, good food, and fine architecture. Easily reachable by train, plane and automobile, 350 miles down Highway 401 – almost next door by Canadian standards – MONTREAL makes for a welcome change. They come here; we go there.



<ABOVE – a popular photo point inside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1339 Sherbrooke Street West –;

MONTREAL8The Quartier des Spectacles is about to get some new tenants.  The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will soon be moving in.

MONTREAL9Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Tangente, the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal and Agora de la danse are moving into the Wilder Building now under construction. <PHOTO ABOVE>. The Place des Arts’ Esplanade itself is being rebuilt, and there are several construction cranes on the horizon meaning more condos are on the way.  Low-rise, infill housing seems to be more popular here than in TORONTO.


MONTREAL has its share of big city eyesores – masses of potholes (we have ’em too); infrastructure and road construction everywhere; an aerosol-tagging plague even on some of the city’s most beautiful buildings; and some gap-tooth sites (old buildings demolished with nothing put in their place).  But overall it’s a splendid metropolis.


MONTREAL10Montreal vs Toronto from  “TORONTO is a sassy vixen.  MONTREAL is more laid back and easy going.”