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Posts Tagged ‘Montréal’

Blog Moved!

This blog has moved to: www.movetomontreal.ca

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This week anyone who’s anyone really wants to be in California at this year’s TED conference. If you haven’t yet been introduced to the concept of TED, it’s a big annual meeting of some of the world’s brightest minds on a whole range of subjects. You can watch talks from previous conferences at www.ted.com

Canada of course has it’s own share of thought leaders as you would expect. Quite some have had their views recorded by the Canadian Voices project – they are well worth listening too. Here are some of the more interesting ones that I’ve come across:

Matt Hern talks about reinventing education and why current education systems are not optimum for our children.

Irshad Manji is a muslim speaker who talks about the positive aspects of Islam and gives a different view of this religion than we usually see

David Suzuki is a top biologist and popular science speaker

Severn Cullis-Suzuki is David’s daughter and an activist in her own right. Famous for giving a speech to the United Nations as a teenager amongst other things.

Chantal Hérbert is a top Québec journalist and columnist working in both English and French

And now back to TED for a video of Mosche Safadie who built the famous river front “Habitat” appartment block for Expo ’67:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/219

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Canadian Sledge for little onesWhen there is a good inch of snow on the ground pushchairs are useless as the wheels won’t turn. Effectively this means that a pushchair is useless in Montréal from December until April.

You won’t believe what’s used instead! A sledge of course! Once your little one can sit up straight, you dress them all warmly in:

  • hat – known as a toque
  • gloves – hint put them on before the coat or buy bigger ones to go over the sleeves
  • scarf or “cache cou”
  • boots – starts at size 20 so once a child is between 12 and 18 months
  • bunting suit

and they can follow you around in a sledge.

When you arrive in Montréal for your first winter you’ll realise that there is a lot ot buy. It’s worthwhile going to the Mountain Equipment Co-operative at Marché Central as they sell good quality stuff at a reasonable price.

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I was watching a video from TED.com the other day from a guy who was building a skycar. It’s a facinating video, but I expect it to be quite a few years until we’re all riding over the Saint Lawrence in such a vehicle.

One slide that Paul Moller, the head of Skycar, showed involved the cycle of transport infrastructure and he came to the conclusion that no more highways would be built.

This led me to think about the transport situation in Montréal. Essentially there are not enough roads for all of the cars that need to use them. Most of the bridges suffer congestion at peak times, so commutes can be long.

Public transport is growing at a good rate and there are some excellent initiatives such as reserving a lane for buses at peak times on the Champlain bridge. The island itself has reasonably good transit, there is the metro and buses are quite regular. However, many of the highways block frequently, the Metropolitain, the Trans-Canadian (known as the T-Can on the radio) and Décarie. So the buses get stuck in the traffic too.

Going out further into the suburbs are the AMT trains. This week there has been a terrible fuss about the poor service offered by the AMT who have responded well in my opinion to make quick improvements. There are 150 new railcars on the way to help improve the service too.

One of the big problems the AMT has is that it uses tracks that are owned by the two freight rail companies, CN and CP. Thus it has little control over the lines and can only run trains when CN and CP don’t need to. 

Frequencies tend to be alright at rush hour, but at other times there are very few trains running.

Suburbian buses are similar too. South shore services are offered by different companies depending upon the territory. Longueuil and Brossard are served by the RTL, La Prairie by CIT Le Richelain. Buses run reasonably often at rush hour, but outside these times there are very few services.

So coming back to Paul Moller’s presentation – he suggests that in order to cope with increasing traffic, the only thing that we can do is to use a skycar. I would suggest that the trend in Montréal is towards public transport, the need is understood and will probably be met before the skycar arrives at a driveway near you.

Here is the TED video of Paul Moller:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/paul_moller_on_the_skycar.html

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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.

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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:

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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.

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