If you were walking around rue Saint-Catherine recently, you might've seen Montreal's resident chaotic do-gooders, Evgeny Patvakanov and Victor René de Cotret putting a smile on the faces of passersby. You might've even gotten a gift yourself!
The goal of our videos is to do chaotic good and make people around us feel good.
Donning costumes — dressed as Santa and his reindeer — and respecting social distancing, Patvakanov and René de Cotret collected some $300 worth of various gifts, lovingly wrapped them, and took to the streets to spread the cheer.
Patvakanov told MTL Blog, "We wanted to surprise Montrealers and cheer them up during these times, especially with the holidays coming up."
If budget Saint Nick looks familiar, you have a good memory!
Back in August, these well-intentioned pranksters left dozens of watermelons on random doorsteps in the Bois-Franc neighbourhood to bring some "cheer" to dark times.
Patvakanov and René de Cotret first caught Montreal's attention when they tipped fast-food workers hundreds of dollars this summer.
When you hear the words "self-care," what do you think of? For many, the practice is synonymous with working out, eating well, yoga and meditation. But what about a regular sleep schedule?
With the ongoing worry of a global pandemic, the strain of working from home and the fallout from a chaotic year in general, it's more important now than ever to prioritize sleep as a key pillar of health and wellbeing. A good night's sleep is important because, just like your overworked smartphone and laptop, your body needs to recharge in order to operate.
While many people can make it through a day or two of sluggishness, it's obvious that without proper sleep, no one can perform at their best. Canadian tennis star and Grand Slam champ, Bianca Andreescu, knows it and she's on a mission with Dormez-vous to "awaken Canadians to the power of sleep."
"We need to stop putting sleep on the bottom of our to-do list and instead recognize the tremendous benefits and strength that comes when we actively manage our sleep," says Bianca.
"If I don't get a good night's sleep then I can't function at my best the next day. Sleep is something I'm incredibly disciplined about - regardless of whether I'm competing or in my downtime. As an athlete, I need to be on my A-game all the time so I can continue to perform at an optimal level."
Considering that sleep is the foundation to better health and wellness, a consistent sleep schedule is essential to feeling and being your best self. There are ample mental and physical benefits you can achieve by putting the phone down and getting in more snooze time, and these are just a few.
Strengthen Your Immune System
You can't expect your body to fight off illnesses if you're not giving it what it needs. Your immune system is here to help you, so why not return the favour? Chances are, whenever you caught a cold when growing up, your parents told you to get lots of rest. They weren't exaggerating, as research has proven that sleep helps heal.
Lack of sleep actually reduces the production of antibodies and cells needed to fight infection. Getting the proper amount of sleep can strengthen your body's immune function, supplying your system with enough energy to do what it does best — fight for you.
Sharpen Your Mind
Have you ever tried focusing on a project while running on minimal hours of sleep? If so, you've probably realized it wasn't very successful.
And sleep experts agree. Poor sleep has a negative impact on thinking. Sleep helps improve your attention span, concentration and overall cognitive performance. Not only does it increase your ability to focus efficiently, but it also improves your memory.
So, the next time you insist on forcing yourself to stay up to finish work, perhaps opt for your bed instead of your desk.
Achieve Optimal Performance
If you're going to listen to anyone talk about achieving optimal performance, it should probably be a hardworking athlete. Bianca doesn't shy away in expressing the importance of championing sleep as much as she champions her sport.
"By taking a disciplined approach to my wellness and investing in my sleep regime in the same way I invest in my fitness regime, I am a higher performance athlete and a stronger, healthier, happier human being," she says.
Even if you don't have an athletic bone in your body, there's a lot to take from Bianca's mantra. Allowing your heart to rest and cells to repair will help your body recover after a long day. Full recovery of any physical exertion is like hitting the reset button on your body, both mentally and physically. You'll wake up feeling brand new, allowing you to tackle tasks with a fresh force.
Protect Your Physical Health
Sleep is critical for optimal physical health. Unfortunately, many people suffer from sleep disorders and don't seek help for their issues. Sleep deprivation studies have revealed that not getting enough sleep each night is linked to harmful health effects such as increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose and increased inflammation.
Regulation of your emotional state is of utmost importance when it comes to taking care of yourself. Without mental clarity and peace of mind, it's hard to enjoy even the simplest joys in life.
Enhance Your Productivity
Productivity is all about energy, which leads to enhanced motivation and ambition to take on the day! It's common sense to know that lack of sufficient sleep won't assist you in being productive. When you're tired, all you want to do is plop down on your mattress and take to Netflix for the rest of the day.
Many people believe that being productive involves working day and night, but Bianca Andreescu wants to set things straight: "There are so many people that say, 'To work harder you need to work longer' and that's just not true. We need our sleep."
When it comes down to it, sleep is the catalyst to achieving optimum performance in all mental and physical aspects.
Nurture Your Body
Research suggests that a single night of insufficient sleep can cause puffy eyes pesky fine lines and pale skin. When you're deep in slumber, your skin's blood flow increases, promoting collagen and repairing any unwelcome damage.
Besides giving you skin goals, sleep also helps nurture your body by managing your cortisol levels — aka the stress hormone. Have you ever taken a "stress nap"? Yeah, you're not alone. A little siesta is actually a productive way to rejuvenate.
Sleep is the fuel that powers your day and helps you feel and be your best self. And just as Bianca Andreescu prioritizes sleep in order to bring her A-game in tennis, Canadians should prioritize a good night's sleep to help them feel and be their best self.
Dormez-vous is on a mission to "awaken Canadians to the power of sleep." Their trusted and knowledgeable Sleep Experts help find personalized sleep solutions tailored to each individual's needs, ensuring every Canadian achieves their best night's sleep.
It's been said again and again that Montreal has two seasons: winter and construction. And while Montrealers know how to have a good time regardless, there's nothing like taking a break every now and then to trade in the city grind for a walk on the wild side.
Fortunately, Montreal is surrounded by hiking trails of all kinds that are just waiting to be discovered. Of course, wherever you're headed, make sure to follow the relevant public health guidelines.
No matter if you're a novice or a seasoned pro, you'll likely know that having the right gear has a big impact when it comes to hiking. Footwear can make all the difference, helping to keep you safe and comfortable along the way, whatever the terrain.
One of the most well-known hiking shoe brands is Merrell, whose new Moab Collection is designed to be lighter and more flexible than old-school boots while still delivering the traction and support any type of hiker needs.
Whether you opt for the protective, cushioned trail runners that are the Moab Flight or the lightweight, athletic tread of the Moab Speed, each can help you confidently take on any one of these nine trails near Montreal.
This spectacular hike is less than an hour's drive from Montreal, and if you follow the Dieppe trail you can even catch a glimpse of the city on a clear day. Talk about a "peak" selfie moment!
While Dieppe (and all of Mont-Saint-Hilaire's five trails) are open year-round, summer and fall are usually best to avoid the mud and muck (although it's nothing a good pair of hiking shoes can't handle).
You don't have to travel out of the city to get your hiking fix. While Mont-Royal's peak can be reached via the tried-and-true Park Loop, you can also opt for the more rugged trails that zigzag through forest.
It's a good idea to bring some snacks because you'll likely want to stop and take in the panoramic view from the summit (and maybe dip your toes in the mountain-top lake too).
As one of Mont-Saint-Bruno's 27-kilometre-long network of trails, Le Montérégien is ideal for more intermediate hikers. It'll quickly become a place you'll want to revisit, which is easy to do as it's less than an hour's drive from Montreal.
But don't forget your camera or your binoculars because, with over 200 bird species and 40 mammal species, you're definitely going to want to capture memories along the way.
Located by Richelieu River Valley, what makes Mont-Saint-Grégoire's Cime Haut-Richelieu trail extra special (aside from the fact that it's only an hour from Montreal) is its farmland views that can be seen from the top.
The 2.3-kilometre trail is suitable for all hiking levels, with a summit you can reach in under an hour. If you climb on a clear day, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of Montreal in the distance.
At about a two-hour drive from Montreal, this 3.5-kilometre trail in Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook is worth the trip. The trail is perhaps best known for being home to North America's longest suspended footbridge, measuring 168 metres long and 50 metres high.
Access to the hiking trails costs $8 for adults (taxes included), which is a good deal for breathtaking views like these.
As one of Parc national d'Oka's ten trails, there's no shortage wildlife to be seen on this hike. Just 45 minutes from Montreal, the Calvaire d'Oka is surrounded by history and heritage too, including three Roman-style chapels atop the mountain's peak.
It's truly an experience of hiking through history as much as it is hiking through nature.
Perhaps better known as a skiing and snowboarding destination, Mont-Tremblant also serves up seriously scenic views for hikers too, including waterfalls and streams along the way.
With Mont-Tremblant as the highest peak in the Laurentides, the Grand Prix Des Couleurs Trail is the quickest way to the top. You're definitely going to want to have your gear, including your hiking shoes, at the ready — and your camera too.
No matter which trail you choose to tread, make sure your footwear is up to snuff with Merrell's new vegan-friendly Moab Speed and Moab Flight hiking and trail-running shoes.
Combining 100% recycled laces and a Vibram® Ecostep outsole made from at least 30% recycled rubber with protective ankle support, cushioned soles and lightweight materials, you can make that first step an Earth-friendly one.
There's no need to feel trapped in the hustle and bustle of urban living. Heading out of the city and exploring some of the great hiking spots near Montreal is a really simple way you can feel better in your body and soul. As long as you're always following public health guidelines, get your hiking shoes on and get out there!
In an April 5 AccuWeather blog post, Dr. Gordon Telepun advised anyone hoping to get a good view of the 2024 total solar eclipse to avoid hosting parties.
"If you are lucky and the weather is predicted to be good at your house on eclipse day, that’s convenient for you, but if you have to travel away from your house for eclipse day, so be it," he wrote. "DO NOT plan a party at your house for eclipse day. You cannot be obligated to be a host or hostess at your house!"
"On eclipse day, your priority is to see the eclipse!"
Telepun, an Alabama-based plastic surgeon, eclipse chaser, photographer and creator of the Solar Eclipse Timer who has witnessed five eclipses from Zambia to Argentina, suggests eclipse-viewing is a more careful art than some might assume.
His advice could be especially useful for Montrealers who, in 2024, might be tempted to stay put to catch a glimpse of the celestial event, but will likely have a better experience if they're willing to take a bit of a drive.
Here's what you need to know about the solar eclipse crossing Quebec.
When is the solar eclipse happening?
The April 8, 2024 eclipse will cross North America beginning in the Mexican state of Sinaloa and continuing across the country to the state of Coahuila before crossing over Texas, the U.S. midwest, upstate New York, northern New England and southern Quebec.
It will then pass over Maine and the Atlantic provinces.
"In 2024 the Point of Greatest Eclipse is in Mexico," Dr. Telepun told MTL Blog.
That's the spot "where the axis of the Moon’s shadow passes closest to the center of the Earth," according to NASA.
"This is very close to where the maximum totality duration can be observed," which, for the 2024 eclipse is "about" four minutes and 28 seconds, Telepun explained.
But "as you move more northeast in the path the totality duration decreases," he continued.
How and where can Quebecers get the best eclipse views?
Telepun's advice: try to get out of Montreal.
"If you stay in the city of Montreal for the eclipse you accept a huge decrease in the totality duration because Montreal is located on the northern limit of the path," he said.
He explained that the eclipse centerline — or, according to EclipseWise.com, the "locus of points of intersection of the axis of the Moon's shadow with the surface of Earth" — will be southeast of Montreal near the border with the U.S.
"When 2024 comes around, those determined to see the eclipse might want to watch the forecasts a day or two ahead and 'discover' old friends who live in more promising locations to go to visit," he suggested.
"An eclipse is a striking and marvelous event, well worth the effort to see."
"The next central eclipse for Montreal, an annular eclipse, does not arrive until August 2093."
When thinking about ways to be more eco-friendly, there are some pieces of advice that are more familiar than others: turn off the lights at home, take shorter showers, hop on your bike or carpool. It should come as no surprise that there are plenty more opportunities to make greener choices every day.
For example, introducing more plant-based foods to your diet is a great way to help Mother Nature.
In fact, according to one study, eating a plant-based diet is the single biggest thing we can do to help fight climate change and protect the planet.
Just by switching to a plant-based diet, you can potentially halve your carbon "foodprint", use a fifth less water and cut land use by three quarters — but only 4% of Canadians know it.
While eating a plant-based diet is the biggest thing you can do to help the environment, it's not the only thing you can do.
The good news is that there are tons of sustainable, eco-friendly products available to help you help the environment. From personal care and kitchen items to dairy alternatives, you can be more eco-friendly in all aspects of your life.
Swap To 100% Bamboo Toilet Paper
Price: $52.00 for 48 rolls
Details: Since bamboo actually regrows after it's harvested, toilet paper made from sustainably sourced bamboo is a winner when it comes to sustainability.
You can get bamboo toilet paper pretty much anywhere you'd buy normal toilet paper, but be sure to keep an eye out for B Corp Certification — the only certification that measures a company's entire environmental and social performance.
Details: Did you know oat milk needs seven times less water to produce than dairy milk? According to Earth's Own, if you switch to using oat milk for one year, you can save up to 42,220 litres of water.
Voted by Canadians as the best-tasting dairy milk alternative, Earth's Own Unsweetened Original Oat Milk is made with oats grown using 7x less water than cow's milk. The oats are farmed right here in Canada, and even the carton is made from plant-based materials.
And it doesn't end at oat milk. Through their Plant Project initiative, Earth's Own also provides mentorship support and grants to Canadians to help get their plant-based ideas off the ground.
Details: Have you ever considered how much plastic gets wasted with garbage bags? The good news is there is a compostable option, and it's easily available.
Paper bags like those made by Bag to Earth are sourced from sustainably managed forests and are 100% plastic-free. Using paper bags helps divert food waste from landfills, so you can feel good about the future of your scraps.
Use Earth's Own Almond Milk As A Dairy Alternative
Details: Grown using half of the water that is used when creating dairy milk, Earth's Own Almond Milk also uses 16 times less land compared to cow's milk and produces four times less greenhouse gas emissions.
If you're looking to make your diet a little greener, splash some almond milk over your cereal, mix it in smoothies, use it to make dairy-free ice cream and create baked goods.
Details: Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to the typical plastic wrap found in many kitchens.
They're softened by the warmth of your hands, creating a waxy texture that allows them to stick together much like plastic wrap. Use them for fruit, vegetables, cheese, sandwiches, leftovers and pretty much anything else you can eat!
Nature Bee's Beeswax Wraps are handmade from Vancouver Island-sourced beeswax, 100% cotton, pine tree resin and jojoba oil. They're washable, reusable, compostable and can last up to a year with proper care and storage.
By swapping out just a few items in your household for reusable alternatives, you're helping to make the planet a cleaner and greener place.
And if you can transition into enjoying more plant-based foods too — like Earth's Own's affordable dairy alternatives made of oat, almond, soy and cashew — you'll help Canadian farmers and the environment at the same time.