I love Montreal. I love it though the temperature this morning was -6F (or, as I joked to friends, 252 Kelvin), even though the drivers are crazy and Sherbrooke Street is a mess, even though Toronto and Vancouver are apparently much cooler Canadian cities to live in, at least if you’re an Anglophone coming from the States.
I love it because there’s a huge mountain in the middle of town with park landscaping courtesy of Frederick Olmsted. I love it because some parts feel like New York without the anger and other parts feel like New Orleans without the grime. I love it because it has a Metro system that still recalls the optimism of the ’60s (Expo 67, to be precise).
I love it because it can joke about a cavernous $1 billion Olympic stadium that suffered such cost overruns it was called the “Big Owe.” (Well, maybe “joke” isn’t the right word.)
I love it for its French signs and its occasional bilingual palindromes (Starbucks becomes “Cafe Starbucks Coffee”). I love it for Schwartz’s — which I sadly won’t get to this trip — and the ubiquitous Canadian chain Tim Hortons, which I did. (I’m not sure I’ll get to St-Viateur Bagel.)
And I especially love it for my relatives, my Aunt Cheryl and her family, who have invited my wife and I to attend the bar mitzvah of my cousin’s son. When I was living in New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Montreal was my refuge, the place I’d visit to decompress when the Big Apple and my attendant problems were too much to handle at home. Family was a big part of that.
More than 25 years later, it’s still a city full of warmth, even given the weather — and that’s largely thanks to them.
Merci, ville de mon coeur.