A new tourist attraction is coming to Montreal in form of an aquarium

The future Aquarium de Montréal will lead by innovation, combining spectacular habitats and unique immersive experiences for guests of all ages and abilities. Image rendering provided by Aquarium de Montréal. (CNW Group/Groupe Écorécréo Inc.)

Originally conceived as part of Expo 67, when the Montreal Aquarium closed in 1991, the city has been without a similar attraction, but a future aquarium is planned to open next year as part of the new Royalmount shopping and residential development.

Montreal-based Ecorecreo Group announced Tuesday that it will be leading the development and operation of the future Aquarium de Montréal, scheduled to open in 2024.

Ecorecreo operates in several locations across Quebec, mostly renting outdoor recreational equipment at places like Montreal’s Old Port  and Parc Jean-Drapeau.

“Our vision of the Aquarium de Montréal is to create an unforgettable journey that celebrates healthy marine and freshwater environments, while also highlighting uncompromised animal care and the importance of conservation action,” says Nicolas Gosselin, General Manager of Aquarium de Montréal.

“The Ecorecreo Group’s commitment to the welfare of animals will be led by an expanding team experienced in providing for animal well-being through enriching, positive behavioral care and stimulating environments. Likewise, forming credible science, education, and conservation partnerships is key to our mission, such as the relationship we have initiated with Dr. Claire Vergneau-Grosset, Professor in Zoological Medicine at Université de Montréal,” adds Gosselin.

Vergneau-Grosset, who specializes in research for the conservation of endangered species of fish and reptiles said she was thrilled to be forging a relationship with Aquarium de Montréal.

“We share the same desire to address urgent environmental issues and the conservation of endangered species, whether here in Montreal or elsewhere on the planet.”

For more information on the project, visit www.aquariumdemontreal.com.

Montreal’s incredible Cité Mémoire set to expand

Montreal Cité Memoire

Thanks to $2.6 million in new funding from the federal government, Montréal en Histoires is expanding Cité Mémoire, an innovative project that uses technology to bring the city’s history to life for visitors and locals alike.

Through projected tableaux, a mobile application, and augmented- and virtual-reality videos, the non-profit organization’s Cité Mémoire project is the world’s longest video-projection route.

The tableaux are projected on walls at night in locations throughout the downtown that cover a range of milestones in Montreal’s history, including well-known (and lesser-known) characters, or sometimes a local slice of life while viewers follow along on their smartphones with a free dedicated app.

“Narrative or impressionist, touching or amusing, they express our values of coexistence, innovation, tolerance and generosity that are the foundation of our city,” states the Cité Mémoire website.

Examples include the founding of the city, the burning of parliament when Montreal was the capital of the Province of Canada, the founding of the world in the words of the Anishinaabe people, and many more.

With the newly-announced funding from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Montréal en Histoires will add routes and tableaux to Cité Mémoire and update its mobile application.

“After the two years we have spent with the pandemic, this major contribution is healthy for the organization, enabling us to develop and enhance our works and routes through the downtown area, as well as right across the entire Île de Montréal area. It is enabling the organization to look to the future with optimism,” said Martin Laviolette, Executive Director and Delegate Producer, Montréal en Histoires in a release.

For World Food Travel Day, I nominate Montreal bagels, smoked meat and poutine

Beauty's luncheonette in Montreal

In case you missed it, and I know I did, The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) declared Saturday, April 18 as World Food Travel Day.

The annual event is meant to celebrate travel as a way to experience the world’s culinary cultures and was first declared last year by the WFTA, a London-based non-profit organisation whose mission is to preserve and promote culinary cultures through hospitality and travel.

This year, they asked people to feature their favorite local food and beverage experiences that visitors to their area would love.

Here in Montreal, a city well known for its love of food, there is no shortage of incredible culinary experiences. Many of those are of the haut cuisine variety, but my tastes run to street foods and simple things that ordinary people eat so I’d point visitors to local classics like poutine, smoked meat and bagels.

These three things verge on Montreal clichés, but they are all beloved by the city’s residents and found just about everywhere.

Originally a Quebec invention, poutine has become a cross-Canada favourite. It’s essentially french fries covered with curd cheese and doused with gravy, but there are countless varieties, including concoctions that incorporate smoked meat.

I like the classic combination and it works well with Montreal-style hot dogs, like those served at the Montreal Pool Room on Boulevard St-Laurent.

Smoked meat originated with Romanian Jews who settled along Boulevard St-Laurent in the early 20th century, although it would likely have been known as St. Lawrence Boulevard back then. It’s effectively a type of pastrami, but spiced and smoked to make it even more delicious. Traditionally served on rye bread with sides of French fries, cole slaw and a dill pickle. Cherry coke is optional. The most famous smoked meat oulet in the city is Schwartz’s, officially known as the Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen.

The bagels of Montreal are unlike those served anywhere else and you’ll often find people in other Canadian cities labelling their bread rings as Montreal-style, but they never really compare to the doughy, honey-washed works of art that are baked in wood-fired ovens in places like Fairmont and St-Viateur bagel bakeries.

What are the local foods from your city that you’d nominate for #WorldFoodTravelDay?

More direct flights coming to Montreal, including low-cost service at St-Hubert

One of the more annoying things about being a traveller from Montreal is not having as many direct flights as Toronto which means having to fly there to connect to other destinations. It’s even more annoying when you are flying from somewhere in Europe and have to fly over Montreal on the way to Toronto in order to fly back home.

Thankfully, Montréal-Trudeau airport keeps on adding more and more direct flights to new destinations and welcoming new airlines. The latest is Norwegian which has been offering a direct connection to Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France since October. YUL is the first Canadian airport to welcome the airline.

Beginning April 29, 2019, Austria Airlines will also offer direct, year-round flights to Vienna. The long-haul flights will operate with a Boeing 767 aircraft with daily service throughout the summer and five flights per week during the winter.

Meanwhile, Sunwing will offer a new destination from Montreal starting on December 18. On that date, it will begin service to Mazatlán, the ninth Mexican destination served from YUL.

Sun-seekers will also be glad to learn that flights to Saint Martin and San Juan are coming back into service starting in mid-December. Air Canada will serve San Juan while Air Transat will operate to both destinations. Flights were cancelled to those destinations last year following Hurricane Irma.

With these additions this winter, Montréal-Trudeau will now connect to 127 destinations, including 69 international airports, which is an increase over the 123 destinations offered last year and sets a new record for air service during the winter season.

As of next year, more than 150 direct destinations will be offered from YUL, including 91 international destinations. This represents the fastest growth in air service at Montréal-Trudeau in a decade with the addition of 11 new destinations, including two in the spring of 2019.

Montreal travellers will also be glad to hear that the ultra low-cost carrier Canada Jetlines has announced that it will fly out of Saint Hubert Airport (YHU).

Jetlines’ aircraft roll-out strategy combined with the airport’s recent refurbishment of its main runway and its plan to build a passenger terminal building could bring Jetlines to the province as early as 2020.

St-Hubert runway upgrade could help attract low-cost carriers to Montreal

The news that Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport has upgraded its primary runway to accommodate larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A220/320, is interesting to anyone who’s been hoping to see low-cost airlines flying out of Montreal.

More than $13 million of the $17-million runway upgrade was provided by the Canadian Government Airports Capital Assistance Program and is part of a development strategy to transform the airport into a regional transportation hub.

The only obstacle to bringing low-cost carriers into the airport today is the fact that St-Hubert has no actual terminal building to speak of. It makes me wonder if it might have been smarter to use the money to spruce up Mirabel Airport seeing that its runways can accommodate just about any airplane you can think of.

Of course, its terminal building was demolished only a few years ago because no one could foresee a day that Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport would not be able to accommodate growing air traffic to Montreal and there might be a need for a secondary airport to handle the overflow that might also be attractive to low-cost carriers.

St-Hubert does have the advantage of being closer to downtown Montreal compared to Mirabel, but I have a soft spot for Montreal’s previous airport of the future that today is only used for cargo flights.