My mother never misses her Translator’s Convention in Montreal every November; it’s always the perfect excuse to get together and book a hotel room! We liked the Bonaventure Hotel so much on our previous trip that we booked a room for 10 nights. I love their beds and their feather pillows by Plume Canada. I loved them so much I ordered 3 of them. I was hoping to buy the same bed as we had in the room but it was so complicated and I wasn’t guaranteed the exact same model so I decided to buy a feather mattress topper by the same company that makes their pillows. The topper is not as easy to reshape as the pillow, and I have to remake the bed often but it’s so comfortable, its like sleeping on a cloud.
I was by myself for the first few days while Mama D was at the convention and I shopped at all Montreal’s 4 Winners stores and found a few treasures. One day I went for a floating bath and a massage at Spa Ovarium at Beaubien Metro station and on the way back I met with a friend, and she went for a swim in the hotel outdoor swimming pool while I shivered in the hot tub with some other guests as we chatted about our respective line of work. They were going to the Casino for dinner and the woman was hoping to win enough money to buy herself a new couch; I never saw her again but I hope she got her new couch!
Mama D and I ate twice at the hotel restaurant which was pricey but a nice treat with excellent service and food. We visited so many museums I said next holiday I would like to have a break! It’s been so long now, almost 6 months and I couldn’t recall much if I didn’t have a few pictures and a few notes.
For our epic museums tour, we each bought two 3 days passes for unlimited access to the Montreal Museums. Our first Museum was the Contemporary Arts Museum (MAC). The temporary exhibit was on Leonard Cohen and that was a painful one for me. Growing up in Montreal, I never really knew his work except the song Everybody knows interpreted by Concrete Blonde and I was disappointed not to hear it anywhere in the exhibit. “Who knows” why they weren’t mentioned anywhere…
I found it all so depressing I didn’t feel like hanging around too much, especially after watching a series of clips about his early life and interviews. I couldn’t stop crying; not because I was sad he passed away but because I was reminded of my own failure as a singer songwriter.
He was talking about the way he wrote his songs and how he thought he was a bad guitar player, and that he had stage fright before every performance. I could relate to his soul somehow and sobbed like a young girl who lost her teddy bear. All those old emotions resurfaced and it was unbearable. I suffered depression pretty bad in my younger days and I didn’t want to revisit that dark place. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was an epic tribute to his life and work, and his relatives must have been very proud of his success. A huge mural of the man on a tall building was quite impressive.
Our second day was spent at the Science Center after having a shoe shine at the central station. At the Museum, there were groups of rowdy elementary kids and I had to use earplugs. We even had to get out of the IMAX movie theater to wait for the next presentation; it was that unbearable.
We watched two movies; The first one was about the 7 year expedition of Henry Bates through the Amazonia. We were happy to see many sloths! The other movie was about predators and I was afraid to see too much blood but it was more about the difficulty of predators to find food except for the blue whale. The place calmed down a bit after they all left. The temporary exhibit was about indigenous people and I was moved by the section about regalias and pow wows and some of their stories.
Our 3rd day we visited 3 museums: Chateau Ramezay, Marguerite Bourgeois and The Fashion Museum. They were all in the same area of Old Montreal. At Chateau Ramezay we learned interesting historic facts about Montreal. The workmanship, furniture, painting and woodwork were pretty impressive. The view from Marguerite Bourgeois was breathtaking and worth the climb up the never ending amount of narrow stairs. I wish I had pictures of the Fashion Museum 🙁 . It was a small museum but worth the visit. It is where I found out that Marcelle, my favorite line of makeup bought Lise Watier cosmétiques, and I bought an original Print from 1975 by Anne Worsham Richardson from their vintage boutique.
The next day was a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. What a long day that was! I love the paintings depicting life in the past with people in movement and action. It triggers my imagination and I wonder what the sounds and smells would be like if I were there. Is it like the brochures and advertisements where everything looks better than real life?
There were some Krieghoff paintings; I can’t wait to get my inherited family paintings (full size reproductions of Krieghoff’s paintings) that are such a pain to get because of road blocks but I will get them one day…
The next day was a visit to The Stewart Museum with it’s amazing views of Montreal and Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The museum is about the history of Montreal with a seasonal exhibit which was about Christmas Decorations. We then walked to the Biosphere where we passed the once famous Helene-de Champlain restaurant. We wanted to go to the Casino but there was a water main break which shut down the Casino completely. So instead we splurged at the Bonaventure Hotel Restaurant.
Ile-Sainte-Helene brings some nostalgia. I worked at the Once famous restaurant Helene-de Champlain and met owner Pierre Marcotte. It was not the best time of my life but it is part of it. I remember walking out on the job, going to the metro station listening to the song Headlight by the rock music group National Velvet on my Sony Walkman.
I also worked at the Biosphere restaurant (there’s no restaurant there anymore) and on weekend mornings I would serve Jean-Pierre Coallier, who used to be a famous TV host. He was such a gentleman and he worked at a classical radio station then. I never knew where the radio station was but it was on Ile-Sainte-Helene. I’m told that Gregory Charles now hosts the radio show; I actually met him too and it was a little awkward, not for me but for him. He was house hunting in the Quebec Eastern Townships and visited the house we were renting and I was in the house and we met. There was no wow factor for him and he ended up buying a house in Sutton. That house had such a rich historical background; it would have made an awesome site for a museum.
Our last day of museums was spent at Redpath Museum, run by Mc Gill University. That is after shopping at the Bay and having lunch on the last floor with a delicious carrot cake we shared for dessert. At Redpath, they have a huge section about Natural History with lots of topiary. I was surprised to see a display about kava, the Polynesian drink made from the kava plant’s roots. We weren’t sure about the visit as we were so tired from all the walking but then the effort to walk up the stairs was well worth it.
Before leaving for the airport, we had some time to kill and went to the gems and stone expo. Mama D wanted to buy me a jewel with my birthstone but what we found was too expensive so we decided on a Topaze Mystique set of earing and necklace for a steal. It was truly an awesome deal considering we don’t find these everywhere.
Montreal really has everything for everybody, every tastes and budgets and I’m going back although this time for family visits. Until the next post, I wish you all safe travels! 🙂