Archive for 2008


Day 53 – Montreal Urban Landscape

Living in the city, we are inundated every day with hundreds of signs instructing us about where to go and what to do. You can park here, but only between these hours on these specific days. You can stop here, but only to load or unload something. This is a one-way; you’re going the wrong way!  Just the other day we got a $42 parking ticket for failing to read the sign that said Reserve…I was distracted at the time by another sign that was indicating that a speed bump was on the road. I guess I’d better pay more attention.



Day 52 – Santa Claus Parade (La Parade du Père Noël) on Rue Saint Catherine, Montréal

A child’s eye view of the parade…



Day 52 – Santa Claus Parade (La Parade du Père Noël) on Rue Saint Catherine, Montréal

The Santa Claus parade in Montreal was the parade to end all parades. I have watched the Santa Claus parade from Toronto on T.V., and I have attended a few minor-league Santa Claus parades in my time, but I have never experienced a parade like this. 

This was a spectacle in the best sense of the word. The make-up and costumes were fabulous. The participants really embodied their characters, and there was quite a line-up. We saw dozens of varieties of elves, toy soldiers, dolls, clowns and Christmas fairies. The moon and the stars came down just for the occasion and were accompanied by a candy cane dance troupe, walking gingerbread cookies, playing cards, Christmas trees, bears, goats, cats, Ukranian dancers, christmas decorations, stilt- walkers, Mexican dancers, a Buddhist Band, the Bonhomme du Carnavale, singers, bakers, and the list goes on and on. 

The extra effort into putting it all together was definitely noticeable. The floats were top-notch and the choreography was impeccable. All this carnivalesque frolicking acting as an effervescent build-up to the brief but climactic Santa spotting at the end. Characters would intermittently announce that “Santa is on his way”, or that “Santa will be here soon” to build up the anticipation of the crowds who lined up for more than an hour in the cold. The little children’s hearts beat faster in their snowsuits, and at the very end, he finally arrived! Santa, ringing his bell, shouting Joyeux Noel and Merry Christmas, thanking the masses for coming to see him. We saw faces full of joy and wonder, amazed and in awe of their Christmas super hero. 

The strangest part of the whole event was that once Santa got to the end of the parade route, he was quickly ushered into a shiny black SUV surrounded by dozens of security dressed in black from head-to-toe. One of the mothers who was waiting at the end of the street was pretty disappointed that her son didn’t get to see Santa before he hurried into his getaway vehicle. I guess even Santa needs an entourage these days.



Day 51 – Alexander Calder’s sculpture, “Man” proudly stands on Isle St. Helene, Montreal

Alexander Calder sculpture on Isle St. Helene - "The Man" L’Homme is a “stabile” that Alexander Calder (also known as Sandy) created for Expo ’67 in Montreal. Calder first earned an engineering degree and then later moved to New York and eventually Paris to follow his artistic ambitions. Most famous for inventing the mobile, he also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry, jewelry and designed carpets.

Day 50 of a 365-Day Portrait of Canada: Toques and winter hats we spotted on McGill campus, Montreal

Toques and winter hats have become the fashion accessory of choice in Montreal these days. Walking to the McGill campus, we were impressed at the vast and diverse array of head gear. Other than two classic black toques, every single hat we saw was different. We loved how each toque had a story, and how this useful and necessary item of winter gear is also an avenue for self expression.



Day 49 – Take out at Moe Wilensky’s, a Montreal Institution


Moe Wilensky’s Light Lunch has been at this location since 1952, and it still looks like it exists in a liminal space. Walking through the doors you are transported decades back when it was ok to eat bologna and salami sandwiches, and egg creams seemed like a superb way to top off a full stomach. If you love mustard you will love Moe’s, as no sandwich leaves the premises sans mustard. We left with a huge smile on our faces, as there is something truly special about this place that has been kept alive by the Wilensky family’s pride and hard work. Spending time at Moe Wilensky’s is like putting on a comfortable sweater that you have had for years. It just feels right. The throw-back-in-time-atmosphere  fills that nostalgic corner in all our hearts and it is reassuring to know that some things really do stay the same.


Day 48 of a 365-Day Portrait of Canada: Construction of a cello in the Atelier of Isabelle Wilbaux, Rue Fairmount, Montreal

Isabelle Wilbaux is a luthier who has been making violins for 15 years. With a diploma from the International Lutherie School of Cremona, Isabelle has won a number of prizes and her craftsmanship is highly renowned. We met Isabelle on the street near her atelier, and she was kind enough to invite us in to photograph her and her colleagues at work. This cello is taking form after approximately one month of work and loving attention.


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