Thanksgiving marks the season of forced family gatherings - we gorge ourselves on turkey and pumpkin pie, being thankful for having each other in our lives. Next comes Christmas, New Year’s and Easter. For some, family gatherings can be wonderful but for others... you realize just how dysfunctional your family truly is.
So instead of just having a massive feast, here are some fun and exciting things that are happening this long weekend!
1. Black & Blue
Come and party with the LGBT community as Black & Blue celebrates their silver anniversary!! For 25 years, Bad Boy Club Montreal has been throwing this legendary dance party and this year will be extra special - the theme is Red Light District. Local and international DJs will keep you pumping well into the next day. So put on your best assless chaps and party like it's your last day on earth and it will all be for a good cause too. The benefit event is to fight against AIDS. It's all happening at the Pierre -Charbonneau Amphitheater on Sunday, Oct. 11th at 10pm to 10am the 12th. If this isn't enough, there's also a Recovery Party happening at Bar Le Cocktail on monday night. Better call in sick to work.
2. Foresta Lumina at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook
Last chance to walk through an enchanted forest in an awe-inspiring multimedia display. And it’s all at night too. Walk through 2 kms of trails guiding you to 7 different themed zones from anywhere to the land of fairies to the land of a blood thirsty creature living in the woods. Don’t delay, it ends Sunday, Oct. 11th.
October means pumpkins - pumpkin pies, pumpkin lattes, and Halloween pumpkins. So head out to a pumpkin patch, argue over which pumpkin is best and end up buying a few and go crazy. And help the Thanksgiving chef make pie or start carving away for Halloween. It will keep you busy and any kids you’ve got in the family. Where is there a pumpkin farm?
Wow your ocular senses and gaze at the most impressive lanterns of ancient lands. The Chinese and Japanese gardens are lit up with elaborate artistic lanterns, pagodas are strewn with lights and vegetation highlighted. It’ll be like a mini trip to the Far East without the price tag. Better hurry, this magical world will end Nov.1st.
Send chills up your spine by going on a ghost walk tour. Fantomes Montreal Ghosts has tours every saturday this month in Old Montreal. You'll be guided through the streets where gruesome events and unexplained phenomena took place and actors will reenact the events of the era.
Who says halloween is only one day? Get the crap scared out of you at La Ronde, not by the heart stopping rides but by goblins and ghouls and whatever nasty bloodied creatures cross your path. Every saturday and sunday this month after 5pm, beware of who or what is going to jump up at you as the undead are unleashed.
"Quebec needs plasma donors," the sponsored post says. The caption reads: "Plasma donation changes the lives of thousands of Quebecers. Plan your visit to a donation centre near you."
Three months of abstinence
Beneath the non-profit organization's post are more than 400 comments. Some ask questions about the difference between plasma and blood (plasma is the liquid portion of blood), while others ask if vaccinated folks can give blood (yes, they can).
Then there are comments like this: "I would but I'm gay and you won't let me," "Then stop your prejudice of gay people" and "I'll think about it when they stop being homophobic entirely."
According to Héma-Québec, "a man whose last sexual contact with a man was 3 or more months ago can give plasma."
While this does not rule out gay donors, the three-month restriction does not apply to lesbians, men who have sex with women or women who have sex with men.
"I would totally donate blood, but I am a healthy gay man and you don't want me because of who I sleep with (even though I have been with the same partner for 21 years). Good luck with your antiquated rules, in an age where you can screen blood for HIV and other pathogens very very quickly. So there you go, do without, it's absolutely no loss on me. So now, stop advertising on my feed," wrote a Facebook user. He asked to be identified as "a member of Montreal's gay community" to protect his privacy.
"It's honestly ridiculous that they even still have this restriction. If women can sleep with men and donate no problem, then there is absolutely no reason why men who sleep with men (or, in your case, one man) should be denied. All of the donations are tested anyway," Gatineau resident Jami Tatlock replied.
On its website, Héma-Québec responds to the question, "Why must a homosexual couple in a stable relationship wait 3 months without having sex?" in order to donate blood.
"Sex can contribute to the propagation of viruses that may be transmitted to other individuals through blood transfusions. Héma-Québec uses a range of very rigorous screening tests. Despite the high performance of these tests, the risk of an infected blood donation going undetected, however slight, is not zero because of the sensitivity limitations of the tests," it says.
"For this reason, despite the use of screening tests, we exclude donors at high risk of infections that might be transmitted through blood."
Héma-Québec describes the three-month window as a period of risk or a "silent period" when people could be asymptomatic and test negative, despite being infected with HIV or Hepatitis. The three-month restriction also applies to people who have gotten piercings or tattoos.
Laurent Paul Ménard, Héma-Québec's media relations director, told MTL Blog the organization is working to make blood donation more inclusive as "scientific evidence becomes available and blood product safety is shown."
Ménard pointed out that, since 2013, Héma-Québec has submitted multiple requests asking Health Canada — which must approve all changes to donor eligibility criteria — to reduce the qualification criteria for men who have sex with men.
Between 1992 and 2013, a man who had sex with another man — even once — could never donate blood. In 2013, a man had to wait five years after having sex with another man to donate. In 2016, the deferral period was reduced to one year. And, in 2019, one year was reduced to three months.
A new behaviour-based approach
Ménard said Héma-Québec is planning to submit to Health Canada again to ask for a new approach that takes behaviour into account, based on a model recently adopted in the U.K.
Héma-Québec, he said, will ask Health Canada to allow some sexually active men who have one same-sex partner to donate without any restrictions.
In the meantime, some potential donors are left torn between doing good and standing up for what they believe is right.
"I am torn now between donating myself," Tatlock told MTL Blog. "I want to help people, but I also kind of want to hold off until they change their homophobic policies as a kind of protest."
According to Ménard, Héma-Québec will submit the request to Health Canada by the end of this year.
Staycations are where it's at 2021, and Quebec — with its rolling hills, beautiful lakes and endless drives — is a wonderful place to go exploring near to home. As Canada's largest province, it's chock-full of memories just waiting to be made.
Quebec offers an abundance of both history and nature, from its townships brimming with European charm to its vast provincial parks. You can fly, train or bus to many of Quebec's must-see destinations, but the best way to explore this far-reaching province is by car.
If you're craving the open road, take a cue from 95.9 Virgin Radio host Vinny, who knows a thing or two about road trips. As one of the hosts of Montreal's favourite radio station (and a born-and-bred Montrealer), he reaches road trippers and commuters every weekday morning.
Vinny knows that when it comes to exploring Quebec, you don't have to travel far to uncover lush scenery, wildlife and get some R&R. In fact, his favourite spots are all less than three hour's drive from Montreal.
Just imagine hitting the open road with the windows down and the radio pumping, cruising your way around picturesque villages, quaint architecture, lazy rivers and towering fjords.
Once you've checked out your favourite stops from Vinny's list of must-sees, all you need is a car, snacks for the road and 95.9 Virgin Radio on full blast.
Time From Montreal: 2 hours
Why You Need To Go: With so much to do and see, Mont-Tremblant is one of Quebec's most popular destinations no matter the season or the reason. From a panoramic gondola ride with a bird's eye view of the Laurentians to bike riding through one of the mountain's many trails, this spot is ideal for explorers and adventurers alike.
After a day spent wandering through nature in all its glory, you can wind down with a shopping spree in Mont-Tremblant's famed pedestrian village. Follow it up with an Instagram-worthy dining experience at one of the dozens of restaurants for a vacay done right.
Why You Need To Go: Less than two hour's drive from Montreal (during which you can jam out to tunes on 95.9 Virgin Radio), Saint-Sauveur is another popular Quebec destination that makes for a great day trip. With a massive outdoor pool and water park, restaurants like Gibby's and spas like Vinny's fave, the Polar Bear's Club Spa, Saint-Sauveur is a must-visit for Montrealers.
Spend the day soaking and steaming in the spa's thermal waters, view the Laurentians from horseback or shop to your heart's content. No matter how you choose to spend your time, there's no shortage of fun to be had at Saint-Sauveur.
Why You Need To Go: According to Vinny, Estérel Resort is "an oasis." With a four-season spa that boasts lake and mountainside views, it's easy to see why. Estérel Resort is all about escaping the daily grind, so what better way could there be to make use of a vacation day? Estérel's all-inclusive packages make it a one-stop-shop for all things R&R.
If you're in the mood for a solid sweat sesh, you can venture through the Laurentians via paddleboard, canoe, kayak, pontoon boat or bike. Foodies will especially love the range of fine dining, including the renowned Bistro à Champlain restaurant.
Why You Need To Go: With more than 225 species that call it home, Zoo de Granby is the largest zoo in the province and offers a great day out for the whole family. Due to continued health and safety guidelines, reservations are required for the summer 2021 season, so be sure to save your spot to get in on all the action.
Slender-tailed meerkats, white rhinos, Japanese macaques and snow leopards are just some of the many animals you'll get to spy here. Learn all there is to know about Granby's conservation efforts while you're at it, too.
Why You Need To Go: Just off the island, La Ferme Quinn is a go-to destination for farm-fresh fruits and veggies, including apples, cucumbers, kale and almost every type of berry you can think of. With fall just around the corner, now's the time to plan your apple-picking adventure to stock up for all those pies you're sure to make.
If baking isn't quite your thing, don't stress. According to Vinny, La Ferme Quinn has the "best apple pie ever." You can also load up on muffins and a ton of other baked goodies that may or may not make it through the car ride home.
Why You Need To Go: Combining rustic charm with jaw-dropping architecture, Le Château Montebello might just take your breath away in the best way as it's situated within nature itself. Fun fact: Le Château Montebello is the world's largest log cabin, and it was rated one of the top 10 resort hotels in Canada by Travel & Leisure.
To make your staycay complete, there's an outdoor pool and cabanas, a sports chalet boasting everything from tennis to mini-golf, a nautical pavilion for those who like to kayak, canoe or paddleboard, hiking trails and even 90-minute guided ATV rides.
Why You Need To Go: You don't need to travel far to uncover the beauty of Quebec. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Centre de la Nature is a massive urban park that spans 50 hectares.
Whether you're in search of a chill picnic, wanting to uncover nature via the Centre's five kilometres of pedestrian paths, or looking to entertain the family at Piscine Saint-Vincent or the on-site petting zoo, Centre de la Nature has it all. There's even a tropical greenhouse that boasts a stunning array of plants and animals, so be sure to have your camera at the ready.
Why You Need To Go: Charm and character combine with history to make Quebec City a must-see (and see again) spot. Walkable and sure to satiate your wanderlust, Quebec City is a great spot to spend your vacation days. Crank up the radio while you're en route and listen to 95.9 Virgin Radio hosts talk all things pop culture and more before you pull up in one of the province's most iconic destinations.
Once you're there, soak up a bit of history at Château Frontenac then traverse the Plains of Abraham, the site of the famous Battle of Quebec. You can also peep a stellar view of the St. Lawrence River from Dufferin Terrace, zipline above Montmorency Falls, shop and eat to your heart's content — however you choose to spend your time, Quebec City has plenty to offer.
Why You Need To Go: Touted as a "super cool experience" by Vinny himself, Parc Omega is a safari park with a 12-kilometre route that winds throughout. You're likely to see wolves, deer, bears, bison, birds and more at this year-round attraction.
For the brave-of-heart, you can also spend a night or two in a cabin, chalet, lodge or pod that's surrounded by a pack of wolves. Each accommodation has a glass facade to allow uninterrupted views of nature and wolves alike.
Why You Need To Go: Since it's always five o'clock somewhere, what better way to spend a day than at a winery? Located just minutes from Montreal, La Bullerie is the first Quebec vineyard that specializes in sparkling wines. With the likes of white, red and, of course, rosé, you can sip and santé while you take in the picturesque views of wine country.
If you fancy a picnic while you're there, La Bullerie offers one of their very own that includes choice cheese, fruit and a local dessert. It's the ultimate daytime date location.
Finally, you can see the Chinese Garden illuminated by hundreds of lanterns. The theme is the legend of Pangu. According to Chinese mythology, Pangu is a giant who created the world, and the exhibit creates sensory experiences that Espace pour la vie says combine art, science, technology and emotion.