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I Lived In (& Liked) Vancouver, But Montreal Is A City To Actually Love

Montreal's charm is simply unmatched! 🏙✨

Associate Editor
Man riding a bike along the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver (left), Man standing and smiling at the Mont-Royal lookout in Montreal (right)

Man riding a bike along the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver (left), Man standing and smiling at the Mont-Royal lookout in Montreal (right)

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

You'll often hear many Vancouverites say that the "West Coast is the best coast," painting a picture as if Vancouver is the Canadian city.

While it's definitely the first — well, only metropolis to come to mind when you think of Canada's West Coast, does it really measure up to all the hype? Nope! *record scratch* Say what now? Mhm, you read right.

I'm debunking this long-lived idea that Vancouver is the pinnacle of Canadian cities when that's just not the case. And there really is only one reason why... Montreal.

As someone who has taken in much of what Vancouver has to offer after having lived and worked there for a few years, it still doesn't hold a candle to the wonders of Montreal, and I'll explain why.

Let's Chat History

It's no surprise that Montreal has been around much longer than Vancouver has.

While I'm no history buff, I do know that a city's past lays the foundation for its present, and part of Montreal's history is what totally sets it apart from any other city in Canada.

You trail into Montreal's Vieux Port and you'll be transported back hundreds of years, feeling as if you've stepped into a little part of France.

You trail into Vancouver's Gastown and it's as if you've stepped into Vancouver's Gastown with a few twinkling lights and overpriced restaurants and bars. "But what about the steam clock?" Uh-huh. What about it?

Now I'm not saying that Montreal's French touch is all that it takes to make it superior to Vancouver, but that "Bonjour/Hi" just hits different.

Montreal Culture FTW

I've never felt or seen culture in Vancouver. Now before you grab your pitchforks and torches, let me explain.

The city is beautiful, framed by mountains and the ocean, and home to some very nice people, but it lacks charm and substance.

When I think of Van City culture, I think of its status as the corporate capital of Lululemon and Patagonia. When I think of Montreal, I think of a cultural capital. It's literally the top result when you Google search "Canada's cultural capital."

Sure, living here has allowed me to fully appreciate all that Montreal has to offer, but at least Montreal has something substantial to offer with its distinct culture — the most I got out of my experience in Vancouver was a reminder of how out of shape I am and how broke I'd be if I permanently lived there.

Shall We Talk About The Food?

Sushi and vegan options. That's all I'd give Vancouver over Montreal. As for everything else, Montreal is and always will be the answer.

Montreal not only has one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita, but they're darn good ones too. We have locally adored restaurants that have been visited by world leaders and admired by world-renowned chefs.

Our city is also recognized for dishes that no other province really has. Sure Vancouver has got great sushi, but when it comes to authentic dishes that have become so iconic that they're ingrained in our very culture, Montreal is the only city to have done that.

What might I be referencing? Poutine of course! French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Chefs across the world have attempted to capture the magical combo of these three simple ingredients, but the dish just doesn't taste the same outside the province of Quebec.

We've also got bagels and smoked meat on lock, too. Not to mention the array of other homestyle québécois dishes, such as tourtières, cretons, and pouding chômeur.

What Vancouver dish measures up to those of Montreal? Japadog? Cactus Club's truffle fries? C'mon now.

What About The Entertainment Scene?

Oof, where to begin with this one. Let's just get nightlife out of the way.

When it comes to Montreal versus Vancouver nightlife, there is no contest. Montreal can easily do laps around Van City nightlife-wise, and anyone who disputes that has not done a night out in Montreal the right way.

From our relaxed Euro-inspired attitudes toward drinking, endless bars, clubs, and lounges (that are open relatively late might I add), and the affordability that makes it somewhat easier for Montrealers to frequent their favourite spots more often — it's evident that Montreal is the place to party.

Sure, you can have your fun in Vancouver, but let's not for a second think we can compare the spots on Davie, Granville, or Hastings to those of Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Laurent, and Crescent, to name a few (of many, and I mean many).

Montreal's music scene also throws Vancouver out of the park. Montreal has a long-lasting tradition of jazz and rock music, both in French and English — not to mention one-third of the vocal trinity, Céline Dion, reigns from our province.

The city's execution and relationship with visual arts, theatre, music, and dance are also unmatched, and I'm sorry to say, but Vancouver could never.

Montreal's entertainment scene is a distinct characteristic of our city that comes to life through a festival-packed calendar that includes the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Just For Laughs, Osheaga, Igloofest, and countless other neighbourhood social and cultural events.

What is Montreal competing with when it comes to Vancouver? Bard On The Beach? Celebration Of Lights? Cherry Blossom Festival? Let's get real.

Vancouver Is Too Damn Expensive

I'm not going to pretend like I am an economist or real estate broker who understands the ins and outs of the market, but what I can tell you is that Vancouver did far more damage to my wallet than Montreal ever has.

From rent and food to transport, Van City just costs more, and for what? That question is not rhetorical.

Montreal Just Does It Better

Now, this may have sounded like I was taking the piss out of Vancouver (and I totally was) but nevertheless, Vancouver is gorgeous and offers many things that Montreal can't. Like...uh...wait, gimme a second. Hold on...I am sure I can think of something.

Y'all get the point. From the hustle and bustle of Montreal's streets, the fashion, the language, the culture, the food, all the way to our nightlife and music scene, Montreal just does it better — and you simply have to experience it to believe it.

Trust me, it's a city well worth visiting and falling in love with.

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