Despite Minister Christian Dubé's remarks that Quebecers could save Christmas by cancelling Thanksgiving, there will be at least one thing missing this holiday season: Montreal's favourite festive train has been cancelled for the first time in its 21-year run.
Canadian Pacific announced this week that it would be hosting a virtual concert and donating to Canadian food banks on its usual route in lieu of its regular holiday train programming.
There's magic in the air and the jingle bells are ringing — wait a minute. It's not Christmas, so what's going on? You're not hallucinating, you're just in Blainville on Montreal's North Shore, taking in the town's Christmas in July celebrations.
During your visit, you'll cross into an illuminated tunnel that'll transport you to a Christmas playground complete with elves, lit-up trees, and other giant decorations including a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree.
There is also a traditional Christmas market, so you can buy your gifts early. VERY early.
Blainville residents have even decorated their homes with Christmas lights to really immerse visitors in the Christmas spirit.
The site is open by reservation only during three time slots: 8:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m. or 10 p.m. You will have 45 minutes to stroll the area and take in all the wonderful sights.
The first Ocean line train of 2021 will depart Halifax on August 11 and Montreal on August 15.
"As it had been done for the other VIA Rail services, the return to operation will occur progressively beginning with one weekly round trip," the company said in a press release.
"To follow and respect guidelines and recommendations from public health authorities and provincial governments, we could not provide our passengers the service and frequencies offered under normal circumstances," VIA Rail CEO Cynthia Garneau stated.
"Our objective has always been the safe resumption of the Ocean when conditions allowed it, and we could not be happier to be able to finally proceed with this gradual return to service in this region."
La Maison Onyx is a pop-up that will run between July and October, giving marginalized chefs a stage to showcase their culinary expertise. Up first is Saint-Henri's Tropikàl Restobar, a Caribbean and Afro-Latin restaurant, which will be there from July 7 to July 27.
Tropikàl will be followed by Maquis Yasolo, an Afro-Québécoise restaurant in Saint-Henri. Later, MasterChef Canada’s Marissa Leon-John of Elle Jay’s Private Dining and Afro-Vegan chef Evy Mendes of Cantine Toca Toca will be serving up delicious eats.
La Maison Onyx is an initiative by DESTA Food, a Black youth network and non-profit business incubator for Black businesses.
According to a DESTA Food statement, La Maison Onyx will feature street food-style menus using local Quebec products, chef-led market tours at Jean-Talon Market, and on-site food demonstrations.
More chefs and Montreal restaurants will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
This article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.
MTLàTABLE is back with set menus at your favourite eateries!
MTLàTABLE is back this year, and around 100 Montreal restaurants are participating in the city-wide food festival between June and October. You can get three-course meals at some of the city's best eateries starting at $20.
MTLàTABLE has revamped its format for 2021 complete with table d'hôte menus, fresh local produce and prizes you can win for simply dining out.
You can filter your preferences by neighbourhood, price, cuisine and more.
Contests & weekly draws
Each meal you buy at the festival's participating restaurants makes you eligible to win one of five weekly draw prizes like a $50 SAQ gift card and a $75 pre-paid VISA card to spend at the participating restaurants.
There are also eight 'Food & Fun Packages' to be won throughout the event, which include two nights in a Montreal hotel.
All you have to do is scan a restaurant's QR code every time you visit to earn a 'fork' and participate in the weekly draw.
Quebec-grown produce & food products
This year's edition of the festival will also focus on fresh seasonal harvests in Quebec, with recipes tailored to in-season produce.
In June and July, restaurants will serve dishes with beets from the Montérégie region, strawberries from Île d’Orléans and raspberries from the Eastern Townships, as well as broccoli from the Capitale-Nationale region, zucchini from the Laurentians and other green vegetables from Quebec.
In August, field tomatoes, leeks, blueberries, and green beans from across the province — from Bas-Saint-Laurent to Lanaudière — will adorn restaurant plates across Montreal.
In September and October, the fall harvest begins, and restaurants will serve soups and stews that include Quebec carrots, morels, oyster mushrooms, eggplants and acorn squash.
Autumn brings the return of apples to Quebec orchards, and restaurants will make use of locally-grown apples on their dishes toward the end of the festival.