Spacing Montréal

Whilst you’re waiting to arrive in Montréal, or you want to learn a bit more about the city, it’s worthwhile checking out Spacing Montréal.

Spacing Montréal ia a blog with photographs of the urban environment of the island of Montréal. Really noteworthy is the work of Guillaume St-Jean who compares old turn of the century photographs with up to date images of the same location. You get a sense of the history of the city and understand more of what the city looks like today.



Montréal in Winter

Montréal receives quite some snow in winter covering it with a blanket of white. On average about 10 to 15cm of snow will fall per week, usually over one day. Locals will talk about snow “storms”; but in reality it just amounts to a lot of snow falling in one day.

Snow falls can be very beautiful; leaving a clean feeling to the environment.

However, once 2.5cm have fallen the city’s snow removal team will jump into action and start clearing the roads and sidewalks. They do this with snowploughs mounted on the front of trucks and by distributing salt on the roads. After this has happened, much of what was white has turned brown. The mountains of brown will then be slowly removed to dumps so that it can melt away. After 2007-2008’s near record snowfall, the dumps were still melting in August.

Generally it’s easy to drive around after the snow has fallen as it’s cleared pretty quickly, but people will drive more slowly so you need to allow more time to go anywhere.

What really make’s Montréal spectacular is the strength of the sun that shines down on it. Montréal has the same latitude as Bordeaux, so you have this wonderfully bright sun with deep blue skies illuminating the snow covered ground. Much nicer than grey and mild central European winters!

Here are some photographs of Old Montréal and the port a few days after snow fall.

container-furniture-montrealWhen you move to Montréal you probably want to bring your personal items with you.Unless you’re coming from continental North America, your possessions will be coming by boat.


The first big question you need to ask yourself is: do I sell or do I ship? When you get a quote for your shipment, which will be around about €9000 / £6000 for a family-sized house you will ask yourself this question. So of course, sell and buy new! Stop though, second hand furniture is hard to sell and isn’t very valuable – yet new furniture can be very expensive.


Hence, when you add up the replacement value of your furniture, electrical goods, books and clothes, you’ll find that it is several times that of the cost of shipping your container.


How do you find a shipping company? Ask around or look in yellow pages for specialists in international residential shipping. Generally, try to avoid companies specialising in office moving because they don’t have the expertise in packing odd shaped home furniture and are likely to charge you more. Remember though the golden rule: shop around as prices can vary a lot.


Once your container arrives in Montréal it’s more than likely that Customs will inspect it. Montréal port authorities like to go through residential containers. The cost of the inspection will probably be around $600 but could be as much as $2000 so make sure you budget for the worst.


After the customs inspection you will need to go to the SAQ* to declare your alcohol. Unopened spirits bottles are NOT taxable. Open all of your spirits bottles before putting them in the container and empty out an inch. This will save you around $7 a bottle. Wine costs around $6 a bottle. For the SAQ you will need:

– a copy of your manifest (supplied by your Canadian Removals Company)

– your Permanent Resident or Temporary Work Permit card

– your B4 form you received from customs when you landed

– a copy of your goods to follow list


Once you’ve been to the SAQ you need to telephone Canada customs* for a meeting, and go down to the customs hall just before the alloted time. At this point, they will take your well prepared goods to follow list and determine how much extra you have to pay for your alcohol. You will need:

– a copy of your manifest

– your Permanent Resident or Temporary Work Permit card

– your B4 form you received from customs when you landed

– a copy of your goods to follow list


Apparently the British are very good at preparing goods to follow lists – this is effectively just a list of what’s in your boxes, on a high level, and the approximate value. For your spirits it’s worthwhile noting them individually as Canada Customs will ask what they are  and what their strength is in order to charge you appropriately.


Once finished, Canada Customs will give you a stamped copy of your manifest and you take this to your removals company who can then organise your move. If your container has been examined, ask your removals company to double check that it has been blocked before they move it. Blocking is placing wood barriers in the container to stop your belongings from shifting (and breaking) during transit.


It’s worthwhile double checking with the company you contracted with in your original country and the one in Canada to make sure that the Canadian end will respect the terms of the contract you have. We were surprised to discover that our Canadian removals company would not rebuild the furniture that the Belgians dismantled. After a lot of wasted time the Belgian company agreed to pay to have everything put back together, but it’s a lot of messing around when all you really want is to have your boxes unpacked!







H1N 3W5

TEL: 514-254-2020

Open: 8.30am until 4pm


*Canada Customs




H2Y 2C2

TEL: 514-350-6142

Snow in Montréal

This week we had our first major snow fall of the season here in Montréal. First it snowed, then it rained and then it snowed again. The rain turned to ice, so you have tree branches incased in ice and on the ground a layer of snow, ice and then more snow.

Here are some photographs:

Ice Cider

domaine-pinnacle-ice-ciderIce cider is a relatively new speciality from Québec. It’s quite a sweet drink with a slight fresh apple taste – definitely worth trying and something that will be becoming more popular.

It can be drunk as an aperatif, as a dessert wine, possibly after a meal – but I’m a bit less convinced about that.

The production of Ice Cider is concentrated in the Eastern Townships of Québec. The apples are left on the tree until they are frozen, they are then picked and fermented resulting in a strong drink that is Ice Cider.

One of the largest producers is Domaine Pinnacle, and very nice it is too. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a nice article from the Globe and Mail.

Ice cider is of course available from the SAQ, the Société des Alcools de Québec and from other speciality stores around the world.

Father Christmas' Parade - Montréal - Défilé du Père NoëlEvery year in Montréal there is a parade welcoming Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) to the city. Parents and children line Montréal’s main shopping thoroughfare, la rue Saint Catherine as different floats and performances move along the road. Despite the sub zero temperatures (it was -5oc) everyone was in a good mood and enjoying the atmosphere.

The best prepared Canadians were there about 30mins before the official start of 11am with their folding chairs coffee and Timbits.

Here are some photographs from this year’s parade:

The cold in Montréal

Winter is definitely on its way to Montréal. I popped out of the car this afternoon to fill it up with petrol in just a tee-shirt and jumper and my gosh, at the end I jumped back in the car again – it was so cold!!

Actually it was around -5 degrees celsius which is not that cold considering that it can go down to -35. It did feel cold though. 

However, with the coat on, there’s no problem at all. I’m as snug as a bug in a rug. It’s really warm that coat and walking outside in the crisp frozen air is actually a pleasure. The legs in jeans start to get a bit cold at this point, so need to get a base layer to keep them warm!