Outside of its ski destinations, tourism in Canada during winter has always been a bit of a hard sell, but Québec City Tourism, in collaboration with Ateliers du Carnaval de Québec, has come up with a unique way to let visitors experience winter right in the middle of summer.
Seeing that the province is in the midst of a record-setting heat wave with temperatures in the high 30s Celsius, the promotion is either a stroke of genius or blessed by fortunate timing.
A 26-by-9-foot container, refrigerated to 4 to 8̊⁰C and decked out in all the trappings of the snow season has been set up near Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City to offer tourists a feel for Québec winters, with ice sculptures, a mini ice hotel, a ski lift, a Québec décor, and videos on popular seasonal activities.
The container will be open noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week until September 3, 2018 next to Dufferin Terrace between the Samuel de Champlain monument and the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel, which is Ground Zero for tourists and locals alike.
As an added bonus, Bonhomme Carnaval, the famed mascot of the city’s winter carnival, will be making surprise visits throughout the summer.
To reduce the ecological footprint of Micro Climat(e) and support carbon neutrality, 1,000 trees have been planted as part of the green program of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel “Château Boréal”.
The container is easily transportable so expect it to go on tour eventually as the city continues to promote winter tourism.
There’s nothing better than getting outside during a Montreal summer, but if you have already overdosed on festivals and had your fill of celebrating the city’s 375th birthday, we’ve got 10 unique experiences in and around Montreal that will help you get off your couch to try something new.
IN THE AIR
Skydive without a parachute
Unless the engines are on fire, most people would rather not jump out of an airplane, yet there are thousands who strap on parachutes to skydive for fun.
If you’re hesitant to make that jump, the closest thing is to take a leap into the skydiving simulator at SkyVenture, located in Laval’s Centropolis complex.
It’s basically a cylindrical room with a giant fan on the floor that blows air upward with enough force to make you float in the air. Each flight lasts 60 seconds, which is the typical length of a parachutist’s free fall, and children as young as four can do it.
An intro package with two flights costs $68. A four-flight package sells for $93.93, and a 10-flight deal is available for $182.65.
Ask any Montrealer to name the city’s most iconic foods and without hesitation, they will answer smoked meat and bagels. But what most probably don’t know is how Jewish immigrants brought those foods here and how they managed to endure as favourites.
One Montrealer who knows that history and is keen to share it with locals and visitors alike is Kat Romanow, the Director of Food Programming at the Museum of Jewish Montreal.
“Jews have lived all over the world and wherever they’ve settled they’ve taken the cuisine of that region and adapted it to the Kosher food laws — so when we talk about Jewish food, we’re talking about a cuisine that is very diverse,” she explains.
Romanow’s enthusiasm for the community’s history is contagious and the perfect starting point to understand how the city’s 93,000 Jews and their cuisine fit into the story of Montreal.
A century ago, before we had photos on Facebook and Instagram to transport us to exotic lands, people relied on paintings like the ones at a new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to take them there.
Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism is a collection of 19th-century works from European painters that depict romanticized visions of the Near East that were partially based reality, but mostly on imagination.
Much of the work on display until May 31, 2015 is by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, a master of the Orientalist genre. The exhibition document’s Benjamin-Constant travels in Moorish Spain, Morocco and the Maghreb and how those voyages informed his work. He would invite aristocrats to his studio which was staged with exotic souvenirs purchased in bazaars and thrill visitors with stories of his travels, especially of the harems that fascinated Europeans.
The Montreal exhibition is beautifully presented and some of the canvases are massive, room-sized paintings that are absolutely stunning. The colours and realism of the art draws you in to examine every detail. The paintings were made at a time when photography was emerging as an art form so care was made to present scenes realistically.
Paintings like these doubtless inspired a generation of Europeans to travel to distant places to see them with their own eyes. It’s not much different from the inspirational photos we see online that make us want to experience those places for ourselves. What’s amusing to realize is that while Benjamin-Constant’s paintings are considered to be idealized visions, how different is that from the Photoshopped and filtered travel photos we see every day?
IF YOU GO …
Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 1380 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec 514-285-2000 1-800-899-MUSE (6873) Admission: $20, 13-30 yrs pay $12, children under 12 are free. $5 discount for Opus card holders.
As much as Canadians love to complain about the cold during the winter and try our hardest to escape somewhere warm during the darkest season, the truth is that we secretly love it. It is part of who we are.
The photos below, one from each territory and province, show the beauty of the nation when it is blanketed in white. Soon enough, the spring will come with the return of birdsong and the scent of flowers and we get to rediscover the beauty of Canada in another season. We will enjoy it while it lasts, but remember that winter will be back again and will greet it happily when it arrives.