Browsing Category

Uncategorized

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 32

August 11, 2016
This Week:
The “White Trails” on Mount Royal
Parc National de la Yamaska in Roxton Pond

IN: Parc du Mont-Royal’s “White Trails”

I’m sure you all know our famous Parc du Mont-Royal, and you may or may not frequent our mid-city beautiful behemoth from time to time. However, I wanted to share a little hike that we’ve done a few times on the East (as far as Mtl directions are concerned) flank of the mountain – I call them the “White Trails” of Mount Royal. I know I’ll be writing about some of the other 100 things to do on Mount Royal in future issues, so I’ll skip over those for now and just point you in the direction of this hike. A hike that will transport you to the wilds of the Monteregian hills, right in the heart of the city. Begin the hike at the recently redone Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument (i.e. Tams Tams HQ), and literally walk straight up the mountain. You’ll cross over some lovely fields, maybe see some LARPing, some slacklining and some lounging, then go ahead and cross right over the Ch. Olmstead and keep following the unmarked trails up into the wilds. Stick to the paths snaking up and around the forest away from Ch. Olmstead and you’ll pop out at the Belvèdere Camilien Houde for a great view of the Big O, Jacques Cartier bridge and all points east-ish. We continued up and along the Sentier de l’Escarpement for more views and wild hiking and then looped on back. All in all, the four of us (including a baby on my back, and a toddler) hiked for about 2.5 hours and probably covered about 4 km. Our path is highlighted in light blue on the map below. It really is surprising & refreshing to be able to get so engulfed in the woods, right in our backyard.

Mont Royal

The Good: 

  1. Wild. It honestly feels like you have escaped the city by a few hundred kilometres and are hiking a wild mountain in the surrounding ranges.
  2. Great mix of terrain. You’ll hit grassy plateaus, beautifully constructed bridges and staircases, rugged root-heavy dirt paths and a few natural rock steps.
  3. Getting there is the easiest thing to do. There are Métro stops, bus stops, Bixi stands, car parking, etc all right there on the mountain. It’s the easiest outdoors experience to get to in Montréal.

The Bad:

  1. If you don’t like crowds and drums, and you happen to go on Sunday, there will be throngs, I mean throngs of people there. If that’s not your style, well, that won’t be fun for you. 
  2. I know we’re right in the middle of a giant metropolis, but I’d love to see less trash strewn about. I don’t know what possesses some people to treat earth like their garbage bin.
  3. There are a few downhills that could cause some slips if you don’t have the proper shoes on, and/or a walking stick. I’d recommend bringing both.

The Useful:

  1. Parc du Mont Royal, 1260 Chemin Remembrance (although we parked on Parc Avenue just south of Ave Mont Royal), 514-843-8240.
  2. Official City Website (and link to a PDF map).
  3. Link to “Les amis de la montagne” website.

Pro Tip:

  • Since you will have worked your butt off for a few hours, go ahead and celebrate with an ice cream cone at La Diperie. As I understand it, this place is THE place to be for ice cream in Montréal, and for good reason. Soft ice cream with 20+ chocolate dip flavours and 20+ topping options. It’s like 1980’s DQ on steroids. 

AROUND: Roxton Pond’s Parc National de la Yamaska

This SÉPAQ park just past Granby is one of the gentler parks in the SÉPAQ network but certainly worth a visit, for a day or a whole weekend I’d say. Due to its “gentler” nature, it is more family focused than others and should be considered a good outdoors option for families of all sizes. We opted for a shorter walk in the woods (I wouldn’t call what we did a “hike”) and lots of time on the beach. Right from the Welcome Centre, we headed out on a mix of the Grand-Tour, Pinède, Digue and Forestière trails. Although the trails were pretty much all flat with a variety of forest and terrains, we still got nice and hot from the sun out there. Perfect then that we finished up back at the Welcome Centre, changed into our trunks and hit the beach! We chose to lounge about and build sand castles, but you can rent myriad floating systems for your watery pleasure – pedalos, kayaks, canoes, SUPs, etc. The beach was great, the water had the perfect temperature and it wasn’t too busy either. Our next visit will surely include biking along the many bike trails swooping in and out of the park, with connections to neighbouring villages and sights. Look for that write up next summer (Volume 2) once our wee one is old enough to ride. 

Parc de la Yamaska

The Good:

  1. This park is suitable for everyone and anyone. There are myriad activities to partake in and the park is only so vast. Meaning that some of you can do X activity while others do Y activity and you’d never be that far from one another.
  2. They’ve installed a slew of water games for kids this summer in a new waterpark right by the beach.
  3. There are lifeguards at the beach. While that’s unimportant to some I know those of you with young’uns will be happy to hear.

The Bad:

  1. As you know I love getting outside for free. While not expensive (under $10 per adult), and supporting a good organization, I still prefer free.
  2. There is no big mountain challenge here so if you’re looking for some real leg burn, I don’t think you’ll find it. 
  3. Some of the trails are quite exposed so on a hot, sunny day, you’ll come out quite crispy if you don’t sunscreen up!

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • If you’d like to initiate yourself or your family into camping but want to do so with some baby steps, check out the accommodations offerings at the Park. You can go full camping, Huttopia style or even a rustic cabin. A great way to introduce your family into camping and thriving on being outside.

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
– Albert Einstein | b.1879 | German-born Theoretical Physicist

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 31

August 4, 2016
This Week:
As Corey is off this week, this is a special edition… in French!
Paddle In & Paddle Around

PADDLE IN: Parc des rapides, Lasalle

L’édition 22 vous avait donné envie de faire un tour au parc des Rapides mais vous n’avez pas encore sauté le pas? Alors on va en remettre une couche! Tout comme Corey, nous trouvons que le Parc des Rapides est l’endroit parfait pour échapper a l’agitation urbaine. En un coup de métro + vélo on se retrouve entouré d’eau, d’herbe et ça fait vraiment du bien. Il existe de nombreuses façons de découvrir ce coin de nature mais nous, nous avons choisi le Stand Up Paddle (SUP). Le SUP est le sport de glisse à la mode, et ça n’est pas pour rien. C’est facile, à la portée du plus grand nombre et il permet sans trop d’efforts de vous faire découvrir ou re-découvrir de nombreux endroits. A Montréal vous pouvez louer des SUP à Lasalle, Verdun, l’île de Soeurs et même au Parc Jean-Drapeau. Il y en a pour tous les goûts!

I&A /Vol1 /Issue30

The Good: 

  1. Le SUP, c’est facile! Plusieurs sorties vous sont proposées, de la simple balade au SUP de nuit, en passant par le SUP Surf.
  2. Il y a plein d’autres choses à faire dans les alentours du Parc des Rapides : pique-nique, piscines, terrains de volley, parcours sportif, observation d’oiseaux, ou juste aller voir les surfeurs s’en donner à coeur joie sur la vague à Guy !

The Bad:

  1. Le SUP, c’est facile! Mais si vous trouvez ça trop facile, n’hésitez pas a vous lancer des défis!

The Useful:

  1. KSF (location des planches de SUP)
    7770 Boulevard LaSalle, H8P 2X6
    http://ksf.ca/

Pro Tip:

  • Allez-y en métro. Montez dans la première rame avec votre vélo. Descendez a la station Angrignon, roulez 15 minutes, sauvez la planète! 🙂

PADDLE AROUND: La rivière Rouge

Direction les Laurentides à Labelle, prêts pour une descente de la Rivière Rouge. Plusieurs parcours sont offerts: 8, 12, ou 23 kilomètres. Nous avons opté pour le 12 km, facile et accessible à tous, sans rapides. À chaque virage, un nouveau paysage: une plage, de belles parois rocheuses, les montagnes au loin, une maison et son ponton d’accès à la rivière… Après 3 bonnes heures de descente, nous prenons le temps de profiter de la plus grande plage du parcours : celle de l’arrivée. Dans une heure, juste en face, une navette arrivera pour nous ramener, nous, nos embarcations, nos grands sourires et nos coups de soleil, au point départ.

Les environs sont tout aussi magnifiques, la Montagne d’Argent. Avec plus 400 voies d’escalade, le site est un paradis pour les grimpeurs! Les non-grimpeurs apprécieront l’ambiance hippie et le décor féerique et pourront randonner ou se baigner dans le Lac d’Argent. Il est possible de dormir sur place en camping ou refuge. 

De notre côté, nous avons choisi de camper dans le superbe Parc National du Mont Tremblant à seulement 30 minutes de route. Vous pouvez y dormir, et pourquoi pas écouter des histoires de loups contées par un naturaliste autour d’un feu de camp. Les activités de jour y sont également nombreuses: randonnées, via ferrata, canot, pêche…

I&A /Vol1 /Issue30

The Good:

  1. Plages, arbres, maisons en bord de rivière, on en prend plein les yeux!
  2. La lenteur du SUP a un cote zen et apaisant
  3. La grande plage à l’arrivée

The Bad:

  1. 12 kilomètres en SUP, c’est long!
  2. Les beaux jours, il y a du monde, alors réservez!
  3. Environ $30 par personne

The Useful:

  • La location des embarcations à Labelle: http://www.kayak-cafe.com/
  • Le Parc National du Mont-Tremblant: http://www.sepaq.com/pq/mot/
  • La Montagne d’Argent: http://www.montagnedargent.com/

Pro Tip:

  • Venez avec des amis, et dites leur de louer un canot. Vous serez contents d’échanger vos embarcations de temps en temps! Le canot vous permettra d’avancer plus vite mais aussi de transporter glacière, parasol, jeux de plage…
    La descente dure environ 3h, mais demandez à ce qu’on vienne vous cherchez plus tard, ce qui vous permettra de faire des pauses et de profiter de la plage d’arrivée.

“A journey best measured in friends rather than miles”
– Tim Cahill

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 30

July 28, 2016
This Week:
L’International des Feux in Old Montréal
Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in Rigaud

IN: Old Montréal’s L’International des Feux

This stalwart of the Montréal summer festival scene is in its 32nd year and this coming Saturday is the grand finale! To cap another wonderful works-of-fire season, the theme for Saturday’s finale is A Tribute to Elton John and will be a “pyromusical display as flamboyant as the legendary music and style of Elton John… [featuring] the music of Elton John, who is indeed the narrator of this tribute and invites us into his musical and personal universe. The soundtrack list includes megahits such as Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock, Saturday Night’s Alright, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Candle in the Wind, [and] Circle of Life.”. I mean, come on, world class fireworks shot out of cannons to the tune of Rocket Man? I don’t think it could get any better than that. And if you’re going to get outside this weekend, might as well let both your eyeballs and earballs be lambasted at the same time!

L'International des Feux Laronde

The Good: 

  1. I am no fireworksologist, but the fireworks in these shows are the best I have ever seen.
  2. It’s free. Mmmmm, free. 
  3. When’s the last time you listened to Elton John? If it’s been more than a year, then you have got to get back on this bus!

The Bad:

  1. If you don’t get to your spot early enough to park your butt, you might end up with an obstructed view au boutte! (tip: get wherever yer going early).
  2. What I’m proposing here is not the most physical, get fit, breathe in your fresh air type of outside event. 
  3. Traffic. On Fireworks nights, traffic is a nightmare. Hint: don’t drive there. Park at a metro station and metro in, or bike in, or walk down, etc.

The Useful:

  1. L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, Link to Village au Pied-du-Courant which is a great place to park yourself to watch the show, 514-397-2001.
  2. Official Website (and link for this particular show – starts at 10pm rain or shine).
  3. MTL Blog page with other great spots to watch the Fireworks

Pro Tip:

  • Saturday is supposed to be partly cloudy (i.e. less crowds) so go ahead and treat yourself to being a kid again (unless you are in fact a kid, then go ahead and continue being said kid) – buy a day pass for LaRonde and stay for a front-seat experience to the fireworks show. You will not be disappointed. 

AROUND: Rigaud’s Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes

This past weekend, we wanted to go for a hike somewhere west of Montréal. There are actually quite a few options but we opted for Mont Rigaud (aka Mont Oscar, it turns out). During my usual I&A sleuthing, I learned that there are no less than 3 spots to have a hike on Mont Rigaud: 1) The ski resort, 2) Les Sentiers de l’Escapade and 3) Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes. We chose the third one because of a link I stumbled upon online that promoted its trails as being quite family friendly and that assured a nice summit view. If you look at the map on the link above, we basically took the white trail all the way to the summit (where it say “C[r]OIX”) and then doubled back on the white trail again to come down. The trail itself was very well maintained, easy enough (with a little kick in the butt challenge once in awhile), and awash in a splendid variety of forest types. And the summit view? Well, after only a 2km hike, my expectations were low, but I was blown away. It was one of the best summit views on any mountain hike I’ve done within a 2 hour radius of Montréal. That’s a bold statement but it’s quite the unique view up there – beautiful checkered farmscapes, peaceful Ottawa river, sailboats galore on Lake of Two Mountains, Oka Mountain rising in the distance, the village of Rigaud at your feet, and on and on. As well, the trail leads you through a couple of “fields of stones”, left over from when the mountain was a granite producing behemoth sending its stone off the mountain on elevated train rails (remnants of which still remain). An odd, and cool, piece of history.

Rigaud

The Good:

  1. It’s all free. $0.00. Parking, hiking, praying (if yer into that), all of it is free. And I like that.
  2. We tried out this new citronella bug spray,  so I don’t know if it was that or not, but there were virtually no mosquitoes!
  3. If you drive up as far as you can on Rue de Lourdes and then park, you’ll save yourself a walk up boring asphalt and you can jump right into the hike (which begins btw all the way to the right of the parking lot, past the bathrooms, right where the road is chained off – head into the woods, across the little bridge and have at it!)

The Bad:

  1. One of my favourite things to revel in while hiking is the onslaught of olfactory greatness I experience while taking in huge nasal breaths. Here, due I imagine to being surrounded by many farms, the olfactory onslaught consists mainly of manure.
  2. The “fields of stones” are OK to walk on but if yer weak in the ankles or need to use a hiking stick for balance, you’ll find these “fields” to be a pain in the ass (not a long pita, but a pita nonetheless).
  3. There are zero, and I repeat, zero trail maps or indicators on the trails themselves. See Pro Tip below to overcome this one.

The Useful:

  • Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, rue de Lourdes (behind the Arena), 450-451-4631.
  • Official Website … however it is encountering some serious server issues so you may or may not ever get onto the actual website.
  • The one good map I found to help you on your hike.

Pro Tip:

  • Download a GPS hiking app so you can figure out where you are in relation to the mountain and have some semblance of direction while hiking around here. I use AllTrails on my iPhone and it helped immensely. 

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”
– Jack Kerouac | b.1922 | American Novelist & Poet

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 29

July 21, 2016
This Week:
Outdoor Concert at Botanical Garden
Long Sault Parkway in Morrisburg, Ontario

IN: Botanical Garden’s Intimate Concert

Montréal’s Botanical Garden is hosting a series of intimate concerts every Sunday this summer. This coming Sunday (when the weather should cooperate), Montréal’s own Patrick Norman (aka Yvon Éthier) will be performing a free live show for all Botanical Garden visitors (which means, of course, that you’d need to buy an entrance to the Garden to see the “free” show). Patrick showcases a litany of influences in his music, from country to cajun to jazz, and is a perfect choice for an intimate concert in this wonderful Garden haven. As well, if you haven’t caught on yet, I’m recommending you visit the Botanical Garden this weekend in conjunction with this free outdoor concert. I hadn’t been since I was a wee lad, but having visited a few times now in recent years, I can’t say enough about its affect on mind, soul and appreciation for nature, right here in the city. Bring your camera, bring your zen and immerse yourself in a floral smorgasbord from the 4 corners of the world.

Botanical Garden

The Good: 

  1. You’ll hear some extraordinary music, for free. Enough said.
  2. You’ll grant yourself a break from the normal noise, movement and cement of the city… right in the middle of the city!
  3. You’ll be supporting your local community, local artists and local workers. And that just feels good.

The Bad:

  1. Ideally you’ll spend a lot of time walking and soaking up all that the Garden has to offer… If it’s raining, walking is not the #1 activity I like to do. Fingers crossed for Mother Nature’s cooperation therefore.
  2. The Chinese Garden is closed for major repairs this summer. That sucks.
  3. The International Mosaiculture Exhibition is no longer there and that was a seriously good piece of eye candy!

The Useful:

  1. Botanical Garden, Temporary Access Map during nearby construction, 514-872-1400.
  2. Official Website (and link for this particular show).
  3. Link to Cocktail Time at the Garden schedule (another musical initiative every Thursday, Friday & Saturday).

Pro Tip:

  • If you can imagine yourself hitting the Garden more than once, or hitting other Montréal City-run attractions this summer, do yourself a favour and buy a Carte Accès. You’ll save money. And that, my friends, is good fiscal policy.

AROUND: Morrisburg’s Long Sault Parkway

The first, and definitely not last, AROUND from our near and dear neighbour, Ontario. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Long Sault Parkway for the first (adult) time and I was blown away. Not only is it damn close to Montréal (think less than an hour), but it’s steeped in history, beauty and a plethora of things to do. I spent a weekend camping at Woodlands Beach and partook in regular camping fun including an inordinate amounts of S’mores, playing in the sand, boating on the St. Lawrence Seaway, peering down upon disappearing roads in the clear waters, getting schooled in Canadiana and of course, a little libationary fun. Long Sault is close enough to drive to for an afternoon BBQ and far enough to feel like you’ve travelled away on vacation. The Long Sault Parkway runs from the towns of Long Sault to Ingleside, Ontario and a series of bridges connect 11 islands. These islands were once the high points in this valley before the entire area was flooded to expand the St. Lawrence Seaway. Those of you familiar with Upper Canada Village will be intrigued to know that this Canadiana village was initially developed with displaced homes from the flooded area. Also, if you do go to Upper Canada Village, make sure to get in line for the fresh bread!

Long Sault

The Good:

  1. You’ll be in Ontario so go ahead and hit the LCBO to pick up some wicked Ontario microbrews for your sojourn in Long Sault. If you can, try Cruiser by Amsterdam – it may just be the perfect summer-camping, all-day-session, love-your-BBQ kind of beer.
  2. It’s close, yet it’s in a foreign land (just kidding.. not really… ok a little).
  3. The old roads that disappear gently into the seaway (top left photo in the collage above) provide the perfect place for kids to play in, for you to plant a couple of chairs or to play a little water frisbee.

The Bad:

  1. If yer expecting tropical waters then please reset yer expectations. While not freezing, it’ll wake you up!
  2. Although there are quite a few spots, the campgrounds do get booked up so I suggest calling ahead.
  3. The sand is not Cuban. Expect less Carribean talcum powder sand, and more riverside heavy sand.

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • If you head down to Marina Bay, either by boat or car, do yourself a favour and sneak a walk a little east along Upper Canada Village Road to a secluded beach. Unpack picnic. Relax. Revel.  

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.”
– Babs Hoffman | b.1931 | All-American Girls Professional Baseball Player

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 28

July 14, 2016
This Week:
Jardins Gamelin in Quartier des spectacles
Via Ferrata in Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

IN: Quartier des spectacles’ Jardins Gamelin

It’s the summer of 2016 and Montréalers have fallen in love with Jardins Gamelin, in only its second year of existence. If you haven’t been, think green space, entertainment (live music, DJs, circus), beer garden, cultural & family activities and everything in between. You can go simply to hang out, listen to music, talk, read and play games… OR! You can take part in the Atelier Familial on Sunday and learn how to keep bees… OR! You can catch amazing free circus performances – MONTRÉAL COMPLETEMENT CiRQUE will be in the heart of Jardins Gamelin all weekend performing the final round of their Fracas show twice nightly (7pm+10pm). And if the whole circus thing is a family affair, good news, because there’s an Atelier de cirque on Sunday for families! Now, I should note that, in case of rain (there maybe rain Friday night and/or Saturday) the patio umbrellas they have there are immense and you can find pretty good shelter even if it is raining. 

Jardins Gamelin

The Good: 

  1. Yer good to go pretty much any time of the day – morning for casse-croûte breakfast, lunch time picnic, 5 à 7 or late evening DJ dance party! 
  2. The casse-croûte is open until 11:00pm, thank you very much.
  3. By supporting the QdS, you’re supporting local cultural innovation and helping propagate a great vision.

The Bad:

  1. Over the years, the Jardins Gamelin has transformed from seedy drug dealing headquarters to a beautiful central downtown oasis… however the north end of the Jardins still has some rougher edges, so to say. 
  2. I’m being a beer nerd here but I’d love to see Jardins Gamelin support a local microbrewery or two and serve up some good beer (they’ve got Sleeman products on tap and the Railside Session Ale was the best of the lot I’d say).
  3. Can the rain please just stop harassing us on weekends? Thank you.

The Useful:

  1. Les Jardins Gamelin, Place Émilie-Gamelin in the Quartier des Spectacles, 514-879-0009.
  2. Official Website
  3. This weekend’s schedule (July 11-17)

Pro Tip:

  • Either before or after your Gamelin experience, hit Ste-Catherine street and head east along the pedestrian portion of the famous boulevard. Every summer, this portion of Ste-Catherine street running through The Village is adorned with a one-of-a-kind canopy of suspended pink balls, is awash in terraces for libationary fun, and is humming with energy all around you.

AROUND: Mont-Tremblant’s Via Ferrata

Get up close and personal with the Diable river this weekend, then go ahead and climb high above it into, and onto, the Laurentian mountains in the most beautiful of places – Parc national du Mont-Tremblant. Since future I&A issues will dive into various other elements of the Parc, and assuming you’ve been to somewhere in or around the Parc, I’ll jump right into the Via Ferrata courses they have set up. We did the Itinéraire Intermédiaire course and it was glorious for all levels (we were a mixed bag of about 20ppl) and just the right amount of time I’d say (~ 4hrs). The instructors were great, the installations were well maintained, and the course was challenging, scary & awesome all at the same time. If you’re scared of heights, depending on the level of said fright, you may be alright (we had one lad who is quite terrified of heights and he made it through… albeit with a constant look of unease on his face). You’ll cross bridges à la Indiana Jones, scale rock faces you thought only mountain goats could, and (optionally) leap from fingertip to fingertip as you scale a Laurentian wall. I did see some young’uns there (age 8+) so be sure to check the details on the Sépaq site for family outings too – pretty cool I bet!

Via Ferrata Mont Tremblant

The Good:

  1. You’ll see Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in a whole new light from a whole new vantage point!
  2. You’ll try something you probably have never tried before (and may very well get addicted to) and you will challenge yourself.
  3. In terms of getting down & dirty with the outdoors, and breathing in the fresh, the wondrous and the momentous, well… this is it, my friends.

The Bad:

  1. It’s not necessarily an activity suited well for everyone. I suggest checking a video or two to make the call for you & your crew.
  2. Mosquitoes. Oh man. Once yer up on the rock faces, yer all good, but walking through the forest en route to the course will leave you a pint or two short (of blood). 
  3. If you freeze up and get stuck, it’s not a simple task to extract yourself from the course without simply backtracking said course that made you freeze up in the first place.

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • On your way home, do yourself a favour and stop at Boulangerie la paysanne d’antan for a fresh, hot chocolate croissant. You earned it (probably… but if not, who cares, have one or two anyway, it’s the weekend!).

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”
– John A. Shedd | b.1859 | American author & professor

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 27

July 7, 2016
This Week:
Les Week-ends du monde at Parc Jean-Drapeau
La Plage de St-Zotique in St-Zotique

IN: Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Les Week-ends du monde

If you are receiving this email, I am assuming you are like me and keen to get outside, even in weather that’s not postcard-perfect. Therefore, I thought you should know about a cool outside event taking place this weekend, and next weekend. It’s Les Week-ends du monde at Parc Jean-Drapeau and for the past 2 years, it has included the Fête des Enfants de Montréal which used to be its own event. What does this mean? Well, it means that the weekend is chock-full of activities for both the parent in you and the raging outdoor party animal in you (unless that part of you has been spayed or neutered). If you’re interested in exposing you and your family to different cultures, this is one of the best ways to do so. You’ll have over a dozen countries showing off their finest art, food, dance, activities, music and a plethora of other things. Also, Pre 6:00pm = families and kids. Post 6:00pm = Adult fun, DJs and booze – basically a multi-cultural Piknik Électronik… so take your pick!

Week-ends du Monde

The Good: 

  1. Since each day of the event is sort of divided into 2 parts (AM for families and PM for adults) you can make a pretty clear call on when to go / how to plan your day. 
  2. It’s free… 100% all inclusive free. For real.
  3. It’s at Parc Jean-Drapeau so you can make a serious weekend out of this since there’s a billion things to do there!

The Bad:

  1. It’s not supposed to be the most beautiful of weekends, weather-wise, so, bring a rain jacket and umbrella just in case.
  2. Lots of people, lots of movement, lots of noise – keep an eye on yer kids please!
  3. Depending on the weather you may actually get hit with a serious bug annoyance. Bring some bug spray just in case.

The Useful:

  1. Les Week-ends du monde: Parc Jean-Drapeau, 514-872-6120.
  2. Official Website (+ Area Map to save or print beforehand so you know your way around… the signage lacks clarity at times).
  3. A really good detailed summary of what’s going on.

Pro Tip:

  • Pick your transport option wisely. For example, park somewhere, anywhere, else than the park and take the metro. You’ll emerge from the metro right smack dab in the middle of the event! Or take the maritime shuttle (boat taxi) over to the park from Old Montréal. If you do the same coming back, you can treat yourself to a little Old Montréal evening stroll as well to cap your day.

AROUND: St-Zotique’s La Plage de St-Zotique

Again, although this coming weekend might turn out to be kind of grey, I decided to include the beach here so you could at least save it for later, and so that you could have it in your brain with a couple more months left of summer. We had the chance to go to La Plage de St-Zotique last week, on a beautiful day during the week and we were blown away! Probably largely due to the fact that we had never been there before, but also because we felt like Californians living the west coast hop-in-the-water-whenever-we-feel-like-it dream. The sand is super clean, the water was almost the opposite of freezing and the lake itself has a great gradual descent for kids to play safely. We felt like we were down south all day at some super cool all-inclusive resort (this resort didn’t actually include anything though). My 4yr old made new friends and played all day in the sand & water with them – it was some real HOP (Hands-Off Parenting) for me. There were not only families, but many couples and friends hanging out. The only catch here between when we went and if you go this weekend is that the vibe can be different, quite different. The weekend vibe is definitely cooler than the midweekers’, but not very relaxing, more of a party vibe. Music pumping from the speakers and lots of people sun bathing and barbecuing. So get a group of friends and hit the beach if “chu-down”!

Plage de St-Zotique

The Good:

  1. Tons of activities, you can go there all day and you won’t have time to do everything.
  2. You can rent anything! From a Frisbee to a kayak! (…but you should bring your own “parasol” since the ones they have there are stationary). 
  3. Only $10 a person, free for kids under 5 years old if not it is $3 or $5 for kids between 5 and 12 (cash only).

The Bad:

  1. Again, the weather may not cooperate this weekend from a sunbathing point of view, if you plan on getting all tanned up.
  2. The washrooms are… let’s say, not the cleanest.
  3. It can get pretty busy during the weekend and pretty loud with the music, so arrive early if you want a great spot and if you want to pack up before the madness.

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • Make a weekend out of it! You can rent a camping spot close by – 10 minute drive or a 20 minute bike ride. If you are on bike I’d also recommend checking out the surrounding area – it’s like a mini Venice (ok, I’m exaggerating but the canal system is pretty neat!)

“A border is always a temptation”
– Larry McMurtry | b.1936 | American writer

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 26

June 30, 2016
This Week:
Canada Day in the Old Port of Montréal &
Parc régional de la Rivière-du-Nord in Saint-Jérôme

IN: Montréal’s Canada Day in the Old Port

Ok, clearly it was inevitable that the Old Port would make an entrance into In & Around – there are a gabajillion things to do outside at the Old Port, AND it’s right smack dab in the centre of the city. There are myriad activities, features, events and thingamagigs that I’ll write more about as time goes on, but for this weekend, I’ll focus on the family-friendly Canada Day festivities taking place all day tomorrow, July 1.

Celebrating Dominion Day, as it were, here in Montréal has been going on for many a year, with parades, fireworks and a sweet ton of multicultural events that shine a light on the ethnic heritage that is Canada, and specifically, Montréal. Tomorrow will include a 21 cannon salute (yeehaw!), inflatable games for the wee ones, a slew of live bands and a wicked awesome fireworks show to end the night at 10:00pm (click here for some hints on the best place to park yer butts to watch). Now, all that being said, this event will be overshadowed, to say the least, by the Jazz Fest, mourning the PK Subban trade, and First Fridays Food Trucks at the Big O… SO! That means you should expect to have a relatively non-sardine like day with your loved ones as you celebrate the birth of our great nation (a nation, I might add, that is home to the world’s longest beaver dam, at 850 metres, found in Northern Alberta).

Canada Day Old Port

The Good: 

  1. The Old Port is a place that is oft forgotten by locals. Daily, people come from thousands of miles just to see this place that is right under our noses. Take a moment, and enjoy a world-class destination at your fingertips.
  2. The easiest “IN” ever featured with regards to public transportation access.
  3. Free. The whole day is free. And that my friends, is awesome.

The Bad:

  1. It’s shaping up to be a so-so day, weather wise, on July 1 in Montréal. Not enough to scare you away but enough for you to bring a rain jacket. Just sayin’.
  2. A few of the Old Port’s major attractions (Port d’Escale Marina, Clock Tower Beach and the Science Centre) are closed due to a union strike going on. It doesn’t affect the Canada Day festivities, but if you wanted to unite a couple of attractions together tomorrow, you might be out of luck.
  3. In order to take in the whole day, you’ll have to stop helping your friends move a little earlier than they wanted… auuuu, so sad for them.

The Useful:

  1. Canada Day in Montréal: 333 Rue de la Commune O, Montréal
  2. Official Canada Day Montréal Website 
  3. Old Port of MOntréal Official Website

Pro Tip:

  • Since no part of you wants to be driving anywhere near the downtown core at any point this summer, I recommend parking at Metro Namur (from West), Metro Montmorency (from North), Metro Frontenac (from East) or Metro Longueuil (from South) and then metroing into Place D’Armes metro station.

AROUND: Saint-Jérôme’s Parc régional de la Rivière-du-Nord

I love this park. Plain and simple. It’s close to Montréal, offers up hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, art & history and is so accessible (effort-wise) that you can bring anyone here that just wants to get outside. I have hiked most of the trails here and, not counting the approach, I’d say the Wilson trail is my favourite. It brings you out for a nice distance, crosses over a beautiful bridge vista, visits Les Chutes Wilson and allows you to see some old hydro dam and paper mill structures. Wait, what? Yep, there used to be a hydro dam here as well as the Wilson Family paper mill (powered by Les Chutes Wilson). Also, you’ll have plenty of sunshine to bask in on that side of the river as well as 75 picnic tables to chill out at and eat yer lunch or comb your hair or whatever it is you do whilst getting outside. If you’re alone, then the gentle gurgle of waterfalls, the churning waters of the Rivière-du-Nord and the sweet songs of the cormorants, ducks and foxes will accompany you as you hike life’s problems away.

Riviere du Nord

The Good:

  1. This is another close AROUND – definitely within 45 minutes of Montréal!
  2. Public transportation is kind of doable thanks to the Saint-Jérôme train line – makes it possible to get here from Montréal without a car.
  3. The trails are A-OK for all kinds of fitness levels. Alllll kinds!

The Bad:

  1. There is some inherent danger in the trail’s proximity to the river that makes the father in me a little nervous when I’m hiking here with my boys. Nothing bad per se, just keep yer eyes out if you go with the wee ones.
  2. It can be a little confusing to get to since you need to maneuver through the 15 Nord / 117 Nord interchange to get there (just keep your eye out / listen to your GPS well).
  3. Not now, but in Spring, some of the trails can be flooded after a heavy winter. I assume after a heavy rainfall as well, just not as bad. If it really storms on Friday, just be sure to bring some flip flops to change into for your ride back home.

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • I cannot stress enough how much I recommend coupling this with a bike ride on Le P’Tit Train du Nord. If you can swing two cars, drop one here, then drive the other with your crew and bikes up to Ste-Adèle and ride on back down to the park. That way you are following a route with a slight downhill the entire way AND you get to end with an awesome walk through the park. If you can’t swing two cars, there are shuttle services as well.

“The journey not the arrival matters”
– T.S. Eliot | b.1888 | American-born British poet

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 25

June 23, 2016
This Week:
La St-Jean au Parc La Fontaine in Plateau Mont-Royal
Centre de la Nature de Mont-Saint-Hilaire in Ville de Mont-Saint-Hilaire

IN: La St-Jean au Parc La Fontaine

Although you have a ton of options for this weekend to get outside and enjoy the glorious weather (much of which will be brought to you by Saint-Jean-Baptiste / John the Baptist), my recommendation for you is the oldie-but-a-goodie Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau Mont-Royal. The park will be rife with St-Jean festivities tonight and all day/night tomorrow so if you’re into gigantic celebrations with hundreds of your closest friends, hit it up! There are even water features for kiddies in the park so no worries about the heat for your wee ones. Also, although you can no longer rent boats to float down the two ponds, there are certainly spots to hop in knee-deep anyway (just don’t let the fuzz see yah 😉 You have your pick in terms of sports to try in the park on any given day – Bocce, volleyball, soccer, baseball, water games, frisbee, slack-lining, etc (bring your own equipment or join another group already havin’ fun). There is space en masse so you won’t have any trouble finding your own little private spot somewhere in the park’s 100 acres of glory. Even if all you want to do is laze away the day, man, Parc La Fontaine is your city oasis, no doubt!

As far as St-Jean goes, there will be activities and events galore for everyone – wee ones to old ones and everyone in between. The major St-Jean party will be down in Quartier des Spectacles (moved there from Parc Maisonneuve in 2015) so if you want a big, huge party, go there. Otherwise, the festivities at Parc La Fontaine will give you a much better “outside” experience, in the middle of a beautiful park with tons to do, and without the huge crush of thousands upon thousands of people. 

““Parc

The Good: 

  1. Espace La Fontaine, right smack dab in the middle of the park, has some great food and ice cream so no need to bring your own food… but definitely your own money.
  2. I’d recommend entering into the park via the corner of Rachel & Calixa-Lavallée – there’s a wonderful colonnade running southwest from there that brings you down to the water’s edge.
  3. Damn easy to get there by public transport… like daaaaaamn easy!

The Bad:

  1. There are not a ton of bathrooms. And, well, after a few beers or radlers or even water, that can become troublesome.
  2. Théâtre de Verdure is still not open. It’s supposed to open next year, in time for Montréal’s 375th but damn I miss those free movies, theatre and concerts (they are however trying to make the best of it).
  3. You can’t rent any sports equipment (except skates in the winter). I know I’m being picky here, but that would be cool.

The Useful:

  1. La St-Jean Dans Le Parc: 3815 Avenue Calixa-Lavallée, 514 281-8942
  2. Official Fête website and PDF programme (with some coupons!)
  3. Montreal.com Parc La Fontaine Website Page

Pro Tip:

  • To see what else is going on this weekend in Montréal for La St-Jeanclick here for an amazing neighbourhood breakdown

AROUND: Centre de la Nature Mont-Saint-Hilaire

One of my favourite close haunts to hit, and a perennial provider of birds in the hand, Mont-Saint-Hilaire never disappoints when it comes to a winning day-hike. I’ve visited during burning summer sunshine, crisp autumn downpours and muddy Spring slugs – all of which have been marvelous. Oddly enough, most of the mountain is currently the property of McGill University, known as the Gault Nature Reserve. The University has opened the western half of the mountain to visitors (at a fee) for hiking, and cross-country skiing, as the Milieu Naturel. The eastern half, or Milieu de Conservation is not accessible to the general public. The flora, avifauna and geology of the mountain make for a pretty magical place if you’re willing to stop, look and revel. There are more than 185 species of birds (including peregrine falcons), 372 known types of minerals (of which 50 are new to science), 400-year-old trees and a plethora of butterflies. To experience all of this, I recommend starting with the Pain de Sucre trail, and then returning, or continuing up to Dieppe via a path of your choosing. You can create myriad trial-combos so have at it and choose your own adventure! If you haven’t scarfed all of your beef jerky and tuna sandwiches upon your descent, then go ahead and end your hike with a nice little chill by Lac Hertel… aaaaand relax.

Mont-Saint-Hilaire

The Good:

  1. Close to Montréal, like less-than-45-minutes-away kind of close. If you wanted, you could even take a train there!
  2. Although many people traipse through this beautiful mountain, there are many forces working to protect it including McGill UniversityUNESCO and Environment Canada.
  3. You can contribute to the Mont-Saint-Hilaire Tree Inventory… which is…. weird, but oddly fulfilling.

The Bad:

  1. There is construction on the main access road and the town of Mont-Saint-Hilaire is celebrating its 50th anniversary (of sorts) this year… Means you may get bogged down in some annoying traffic.
  2. There can be loads of people on those perfect days. I’d recommend hitting it early, or bide your time and hit it late afternoon. It’s close enough to Montréal and has enough short hike options to make that possible.
  3. Lac Hertel is closed to recreational swimming. I understand the reason for this (it is, after all, a secondary reservoir of drinking water), but c’mon ref! Can’t we just have a little ol’ time outdoors fun anymore?

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • At the summit (Pain de Sucre in particular), take a moment to just sit, with your hand extended, and rest assured, a bird will come on by and perch down on you. However, please don’t lure with food (it’s unhealthy and completely unnecessary).

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
– Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) b. 1904. American writer & illustrator

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 24

June 16, 2016
This Week:
Montréal Folk Festival in St-Henri
Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook in Coaticook

IN: St-Henri’s Montréal Folk Festival on the Canal

What could be better on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Montréal than listening to music, for free, whilst reveling in the beauty of the Lachine Canal? Get your skin shined up kids because we’re heading to the South West this weekend! The Montréal Folk Festival on the Canal, running from June 15-19, launched in 2008 to celebrate and also introduce folk, roots & bluegrass music, in both French & English, to Montréal music lovers. Over the years it has grown from a 1 day event to a 5 day event attracting thousand of people. There’s a great emphasis on families as well for those of you with wee ones – it’s known as the most family friendly music fest in town. There will also be myriad local artisans on hand to sell you their wares (is just me or does that sentence sound like it’s 1892?). Mike Finnerty from CBC sums it up pretty well here: “I ​love the Folk Fest. It’s laid back, people are sprawled out on the grass, there’s good music playing. When the weather cooperates – and it will – it’s magic!”. 

“Montreal

The Good: 

  1. If you so choose, you can go ahead and camp. Overnight. In downtown Montréal. That’s cool.
  2. Food Trucks galore.
  3. Intimate experience with some truly awesome (and potentially “about-to-go-global” bands).

The Bad:

  1. This weekend, it will be hot. So, in turn, you will be hot. Like very hot. 
  2. While the event is incredibly family friendly, if you have wee ones, your stay may not be that long due to the heat and exhaustion you will feel having to hawk-watch them. Plan accordingly.
  3. One big change this year is that you will no longer be able to bring your own alcohol on-site. However, the Festival organizers claim that the beer and wine on-site will be reasonably priced. Remains to be seen…

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • Do your best to attend the Grateful Dead tribute as members of two extraordinary Montréal bands will be performing – The Barr Brothers and Patrick Watson

AROUND: Coaticook’s Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook

It’s impossible to not mention the Foresta Lumina when discussing the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook so I will certainly touch on that below. However, I’d like to invite you to discover, explore and fall in love with a very accessible park just 2 hours outside of Montréal. The trails are a mix of dirt, natural forest floor, man made steps, and wooden boardwalks – all of which are well maintained and clean of debris. There is a lookout tower that you can clamber up to admire the view if you so choose. As well, of course, there is the most spectacular feature of the park – the longest suspended footbridge in the world. This bridge is a marvel to see, and to walk across. It was built more than 25 years ago by a local construction company, takes you as high as 164 feet above the raging Coaticook river below and spans 554 feet across said raging river. The slats are spaced close together so you don’t feel like Indiana Jones crossing it, and it can hold up to 80 tons, however… if you’re scared of heights, I recommend you have someone to grip onto, or into, in case it doesn’t tickle your fancy. The thing I really like about this park is that the trails bring you very close to the river, out into the surrounding forest, across a unique bridge and past various historical structures. It’s diverse, accessible for everyone and damn cool. And, for the most part, it can be as short or as long as you like!

Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook

The Good:

  1. Foresta Lumina – No video or image or story can do it justice… it’s an absolute MUST SEE. Pointe Finale. 
  2. The town of Coaticook is quite lovely and worth a stroll.
  3. It’s incredibly accessible – while definitely not recommended, I have hiked the paths in flip flops. 

The Bad:

  1. If you do fill your day up with all of the things I mention here, and then get in the car to drive back home to Montréal, it can make for a long & tiring day. 
  2. Obviously because the sun needs to set first, some of the start times for Foresta Lumina are late for those of you with wee ones.
  3. Depending on when you return to Montréal, the Eastern Township Autoroute can get quite clogged as you approach the 10/30 interchange around supper time. 

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • Make a serious day of it by stopping at the Microbrasserie Coaticook for beer (try the flight!) & food, then waltzing across the street to the famous Laiterie de Coaticook for some ice cream (they’ve got a cool hang-out-and-eat-your-ice-cream vibe going on). Seriously awesome combo of mouthal explosions.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
– Lao Tzu b. 4th, 5th or 6th century BC. Chinese philosopher & writer

Uncategorized

In & Around /Volume 1 /Issue 23

June 9, 2016
This Week:
Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques in Pierrefonds
Mont Saint-Grégoire in Municipalité de Mont-Saint-Grégoire

IN: Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques

This seems like an easy choice to feature for something beautiful IN Montréal to get you outdoors – it is, after all, Montréal’s largest park. However, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees and it’s worth re-visiting this wonderful park this weekend if you haven’t done so in a while. I think that with the amount of activities this park has to offer, I could feature it weekly. However, for this particular Issue, I wanted to get a jump on the “endless” summer weekends approaching and remind you all to think of the Cap when planning your weekend excursions. Here you can laze away on the beach, swim in Lac des Deux Montagnes, visit an organic farm (they offers tours, a sugar shack, & at harvest time, sell produce from the farm in an old-fashioned general store), catch a fish or two, picnic til you can’t picnic no more, cycle on the nice flat trails, or just stroll… like seriously stroll amongst some wonderful beauty.

Depending on your family makeup, and equipment setup (i.e. have bike & bike rack?), my “see-it-all” recommendation would be to park at the Chalet d’accueil, jump on your bike, head north on the bike path, make a stop at the farm, then continue on your way west(ish) to see the Maison Brunet (it’s currently being restored, but it’s still quite glorious to see), and finally head on down to the beach and splash it up, splashy pants! Once you’re done, it’s a leisurely ride pass the sugar shack back to your car.

The Good: 

  1. Myriad activities.
  2. A great beach & swim system for the hot hot Montréal summer heat.
  3. Provides a great opportunity to see a different side of the island.

The Bad:

  1. A pain in the whatnots to get to if you are un-automobiled. You can get there by public transportation but you should leave now if you want to hit it up this weekend.
  2. Some people can’t handle the lake bottom at the swimming area. I don’t mind it at all but it’s kind of squishy in between the toes.
  3. Mosquitoes. Clearly, you should be prepared.

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • Hit up Walmart or someplace similar and buy some water shoes. They’re inexpensive and glorious for gross lake bottoms, hard rocked beaches and mud.

AROUND: Mont-Saint-Grégoire in Municipalité de Mont-Saint-Grégoire

An oft-overlooked, or forgotten, mountain in the area known as Montérégie (in this case, specifically the Eastern Townships), this is one of my secret favourites. I suppose it lacks the size, lore and lustre of others (Mont-Saint-Bruno, Mont Saint-Hilaire to name a couple), but it’s so accessible, void of crowds, and challenging, in its own way. While you will definitely find longer and more arduous hikes in the area, Mont Saint-Grégoire provides a great opportunity to hike forest floor, man-made steps, lookout platforms and even a little scrambling as you approach the summit. To have all of that in a ~3km hike, well, that’s pretty impressive. On a clear day, when reaching the summit, you are rewarded with an outstanding view in all directions. You can see surrounding mountains including the ones mentioned above, as well as Rougemont, Mont Brome (Bromont), Mont Royal, Montréal’s city skyline, the Adirondacks and a ton of flat farmland (that is somehow quite beautiful). It’s not necessarily one for the very wee ones out there (I’d say 6yrs old+ is a safe bet), but it’s very accessible for just about anyone yearning for some outdoors.

The Good:

  1. It’s close. Like real close. Like you can probably see your house from the summit close.
  2. Diversity of terrain in a very short distance makes for some serious low-key fun. Speaking of diversity, Arbraska has also set up shop here… if yer into that.
  3. You’ll discover a wee little mountain that not many people visit – means some potential peace & quiet and some serious deep-breathing opportunities.

The Bad:

  1. It’s not big. If you’re up for a big ol’ burnin hike, there are not too many options here, no matter how you slice ’em. 
  2. There’s no immediate surrounding town to peruse before or after your hike. aka the Municipalité de Mont-Saint-Grégoire more or less begins and ends with this little gem of a mountain.
  3. There was once a serious piece of history located on the slopes of the mountain that was ploughed over during landscaping in the 1950’s. One of our unofficial founding fathers, and adamant supporter of aboriginal rights, Sir John Johnson’s family burial vault was unceremoniously buried in rubble. A negative bit of history for this mountain (albeit with a potentially positive outcome).

The Useful:

Pro Tip:

  • After your hike, since you’re so close, why not drive down the road to Farnham, visit Farnham Ale & Lager and treat yourself to a wonderful freshly brewed Summer Pale Ale 42 from this fine brewery? Go on, you deserve it. I also suggest checking out Fromagerie des Cantons across the street – outstanding cheeses.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J.R.R Tolkien | b. 1892 | English writer, poet & professor