We Took Off to the Great White North

Canada? Why should we leave America to visit America Junior?

– Homer Simpson

The Kev and I just returned from Canada, where we did a little bit of everything from Formula One to whale-watching. We spent most of our holiday outside, and have the rosy cheeks to prove it!  We started in Montreal, then went to Quebec City, and finally a huge loop up to Tadoussac and down through the Cantons de l’Est.

Even though we were in francophone Quebec, there are still many reminders of Britain, such as this seagull doing a creditable Winston Churchill imitation.

We shall eat on the beaches. We shall eat in the parks.

“We shall eat on the beaches. We shall eat in the parks.”

And of course, U.S. culture makes its appearance, being on the same continent and all.

montreal graffiti

I learned two things about myself on the trip. Thing one, despite years of French instruction, I can’t speak it to save my dang life.  Thing two, I never stop taking DIY notes! I took lots and lots of pictures of Quebecois exteriors and could have taken lots and lots more.

The first thing I noticed is that Montreal gardens are gorgeous! They make the most of a short growing season, using the “Parks” and “Explorer” roses (love ‘em) and lots of hardy natives.

montreal garden

Beautiful composition – colors, shapes, textures, all fantastic, right in downtown.

montreal rock garden

Love the plantings tumbling over the rocks.

The houses themselves are also full of character and ideas. With the long, snowy winters, metal is the roofing material of choice. From Chateau Frontenac’s famous copper to zinc and coated steel, metal roofing was much more prevalent than in our current or former neighbourhoods. Since we’re creeping up on a re-roof ourselves, I paid close attention.

montreal metal roof

Metal roofs are hardy and long-lasting. Perhaps not in red, though.

Some homes in the historic districts (and we’re talking European-level historic here – Quebec includes an extant walled city, and both Montreal and Quebec boast districts dating to the 1600s) have metal shingles set at an angle. I don’t know if this is functional (to shed snow, for instance) or simply decorative, but it’s very cool. I only have one picture that shows this feature in detail.

montreal metal roof 2

Angled shingles, funicular station, Vieux Quebec.

I doubt we could find a roofer willing to do this in decidedly un-French Minnesota, but it is definitely eye-catching.

Montreal features many homes with exterior iron staircases, allowing upper-storey residents a separate entrance. These stairs are so distinctive that they were chosen as an emblem of the city over the Olympic Stadium.

montreal steps

Having lived above the ground floor with both interior and exterior stairs, I personally prefer interior. I remember many a drizzle-induced misstep on our outside stairs in East London; with snow and ice, I probably would have broken an ankle! But there’s no denying it was nice to have our own entrance, and it’s hard to fault an architectural feature as pretty as Montreal’s iron steps.

Despite spending so much time out and about, I did have occasion to take one relevant interior shot. Remember my quandary about bifold closet door handle placement? I had not considered this option, selected by one of our temporary landlords.

montreal closet doors

I’m still not considering this option. But I am considering a quick return to lovely Quebec.

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