Cover photo cred - Francis Reyes
Montreal is a magical, mythical place, and to an outsider, it can seem rather confusing, even intimidating. The truth is, it's all of those things. It's like an exclusive club that admits only the worthy. Only those who've figured out its many inherent cultural intricacies, and carefully studied the secret handshakes and special code words, will understand what Montreal is all about. But please don't let this put you off, however, because once accepted to the foal, and with open arms might I add, Montreal will be the warmest, most nurturing teat you ever did suckle upon.
Until then, here are 21 Things You Don't Understand About Montreal (Unless You're From Here).
1. Our street signs
From billboards, to store fronts, to parking signs, unless you are from Montreal, you won't understand the often confusing and seemingly contradictory nature of our street signage. A word to the wise: If you could easily find a free parking spot on a busy street, consider the fact that you may be wrong.
2. What street is actually the Main
Mention the Main to a Montrealer and they will automatically point you to St-Lo Boulevard. Now what's St-Lo Boulevard you ask...
3. Why our staircases are built on the outside
A reoccurring architectural theme in Montreal neighborhoods is the outdoor front staircases leading up to many homes, quite naked and exposed to the elements. Pretty to look at, but with the harsh winters we are so known for, seems absolutely ridiculous to have done this. Or is it?? Yes, yes it is.
4. What the deuce a Youppi is
Duh. He's our mascot. He currently reps our glorious Habs, former jobs include the legendary Expos. Youppi is even inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame! Youppi is so bad-ass he's the only mascot to ever get ejected from a game. C'mon stranger, get learned.
5. Why we pay so much for Canadiens tickets
This should be fairly obvious. Most Stanley Cup Wins, second most successful professional team in all of major sports, pretty much the originators of the game itself. Shall I go on?
6. That Crescent Street is not okay
Crescent Street has long been a nightlife destination for Montreal, but not so much for Montrealers. At least not anymore. Unless you are a douchy bro/basic white girl, or from out of town, Crescent is not where it's at.
7. What First Fridays are
First Fridays can mean many things to many people. In Montreal it is a monthly gathering of our city's food trucks at the Big O, celebrating street food culture and good vibes. Now you know.
8. Why we have such defined calf muscles
You know that the Mont part in Montreal means hill in French, right? We literally live on a Realhill.
9. That Île Sainte-Hélène is a somewhat unnatural place
That island there, you can see from the Port, with the cool roller coasters, and the crazy looking Casino, well it used to be much, much smaller. It was built, and people came.
10. Tam Tams
Sundays at Tams. 'Nuff said.
11. Partying outside when it's -30
We call it Igloofest, or at least that's the biggest winter outdoor party we throw. Definitely not the only one. Just cause there be mad snow, don't mean there ain't no show.
12. We're not like the rest of Canada
As Canadian as many of us feel, it's sometimes easy to forget that we are attached to those other hosers in beaver country. We speak French, we embrace diversity, and we have a truly unique worldly vibe.
13. That graffiti is art
A brick wall tagged and painted with bright colours, most people see vandalism. When you are actually from Montreal, you see art. True story.
There's not too many places where you are greeted in two different languages at once. The standard "Bonjour/Hi" open is a clever hybrid of bilingualism that really does keep this city rolling.
15. The Olympic Stadium
Ya, so the Big O is kind of a long running joke in this city, what with the roof that just won't stay up and what not, but it is our running joke, and Montreal would not be the same without it.
16. How crappy our infrastructure really is
To many outsiders looking in, it appears as though Montreal must have its shit together to be able to so smoothly pull off so many international festivals and high cultural rankings, but it doesn't really. It's actually kind of a shit show. The truth hurts.
17. Why driving downtown sucks
Yes, driving in any major metropolitan core is frustrating at best, but with our one way streets, bike lanes, jaywalkers, road closures, construction etc., you might begin to understand why we invented (and love) the BiXi.
18. Why listicles are so much fun
Montrealers love their listicles (or is that just us??). The more random information crammed into an arbitrarily numbered list the better. Besides, think of the cool things listicles rhymes with - Popsicles, testicles, follicles, funicles (real word look it up), pickles, ventricles, icicles, chronicles....
19. What Cinq à Sept means
Probably the highlight to most Montrealers day, we've taken the standard, insufficient Happy Hour, and doubled it. We begin at 5 and end at 7. Even then, the 7pm cut off time is really more of a loose suggestion.
20. $2 Chow Mein
If you've ever gotten drunk on the Main, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, well that might actually be a good thing.
21. The complex relationship between motorists and cyclists
Cycling is a legitimate means of transportation for many Montrealers, and there is a fine, but definite, line drawn between the two worlds. Ideally, the two sides should step into the shoes of the other for a day so we can all just get along already.
For more Montreal insights follow Synden on Twitter @Synden_