Despite Montreal changing rapidly, residents never forget what makes it so wonderful. And there are things only people who are born and raised in Montreal will ever truly understand. Sure, you can take a trip there for a hot minute, but you will never get it the way a native Montrealer does.
Whether it’s finding the best nosh to grab at 3 am after you’ve hit the club or chilling at some hot spot only locals know, Montrealer are proud of their city. You are an avid Habs fan, a pro at dressing for the capricious weather, an expert “Franglais” speaker, and pretty vocal about the city’s changing landscape.
There’s a reason why tourists flock to our little island. We provide culture, fun and a certain uniqueness you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Let’s take a look at 15 things only Montrealers would understand…
15. WINTER Is Coming…
For some inexplicable reason Montrealers have somehow found a way to survive our dreary winters. Maybe we just make more of a stink about it than it actually is in reality… wait a minute- NO! I take that back! There are some mornings when the winter chill just smacks you right in the face as you step outside your door.
It’s so cold some days it’s painful to breathe. Your phone has possibly shut down because of the chill. You may have got frostbite as a kid. You have a shovel and ice scraper packed in your trunk; you’re a fool if you think you are not going to need them on a regular basis.
When blizzards hit, we team up and help each other. Good Samaritans show up late to work because they helped push a damsel’s car out of a giant snowbank. But, if you think any Montrealer is missing out on their outdoor hockey session, guess again. Whatever the season brings, we brave the elements. Somehow, we endure. Montreal winters ain’t got nothing on us!
14. Going To The Orange Julep
This hometown gem is easy to spot because it is literally a giant orange ball sticking out into the sky. Perked on top of Decarie boulevard, Orange Julep is best known for its unique orange juice, one of the finer staples of Quebec culture. This O.J. blend is creamy, sweet and popular.
I am confident the secret ingredient is egg whites which oddly makes it oh-so-good. You can get your classic poutine, hot dogs, hamburgers and of course a plate of spaghetti meat sauce. Orange Julep doesn’t stop with just food.
On Wednesday nights during the warmer seasons, the parking lot becomes a hot spot for car fanatics. Muscle cars aficionados compare their roadsters and enjoy their grub. The Orange Julep has been around for years and it’s always busy.
13. You Are Fluent In “Franglais”
There is no question almost every native Montrealer has mastered the skill of combining French and English together. We are able to read something in French and think about it in English. This also applies in conversations. One person can speak in French while the other answers in English, and the discussion flows.
We can start out our sentences in English then switch and end it in French. To the uninitiated, it may sound confusing. But it’s our very own Montrealer dialect.
Hands down, French swear words are the most satisfying to let out at times. They are mostly religious terms, but with a clenched fist and a shout, you know when you’ve got an upset Montrealer.
12. Young Tourists Bar-Hopping
Oh.my.god. We’ve all seen hypnotizing train wrecks, freshly-turned-18 tourists hitting up Montreal for our legal drinking age and fun party scene. Most of us though have had our first drink before the age of 18 — whether it was in your friend’s basement, a public park or even on a bus.
It’s a rarer to see us to get so belligerently drunk, because we already know how much alcohol we can handle. When our friendly American neighbors cross the border, it can get sloppy real quick. They’re always down to PARTY, to go hard and to spend money though.
Asking all the locals “Where’s the best spot to go out?” they usually end up having a blast — right before disaster hits. Regular sights include tourists projectile vomiting before midnight, bar fighting with a bunch of macho college bros, and of course drunken chicks taking their heels off to walk home barefoot.
Montreal is a great place to let loose and have fun. But we’re judgemental about alcohol consumption… so keep it classy!
11. We Take Pride In Our Universities
McGill University has always been known as the Harvard of Canada. It’s currently ranked as 32nd best university in the WORLD and 2nd in Canada. Tourists flock to Montreal just to visit and explore the campus. It is reputable, well-maintained and everything you expect it to be.
It attracts intelligent and determined students eager to better their future one class at a time. If you did not attend McGill, you may have been a student at Concordia University, also located downtown. There are over 30, 000 students attending Concordia annually. The university boasts famous alumni. They include Will Arnett, the hilarious actor from Arrested Development, singer Rufus Wainwright as well as writer Mordecai Richler.
The three other universities that are most popular in Montreal are Université de Montreal, UQAM and HEC; unlike McGill and Concordia, the classes there are taught in French. Locals tend to flock to those universities while non-natives prefer Concordia and McGill.
10. We love the HERB
Puff, puff, pass. If you have strolled down pretty much any street in downtown Montreal, chances are you have gotten a big whiff of weed. We’re open about the herb; a huge swath of Montrealers smoke pot. It’s easy to find, easy to get and easy to smoke. Whatever your choice of inhaling is, Montrealer has got you covered.
There are weed stores that sell all kinds of paraphernalia. Though illegal, everyone kind of has a laissez-faire attitude about it. Nobody is suggesting to take a huge toke and blow it in a police officer’s face though. It’s only legal if you have proof that you are using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Keeping a small amount on you is the safest choice. If caught, police officers will order you to discard it. They might confiscate it if the cop is a real piece of work. Stay low-key if you are paranoid about getting in trouble but, all in all, just enjoy the high.
9. Worshiping The Habs
“Go Habs Go!” is a popular chant in town, especially during playoff season. Hockey is a religion here. We live and breathe for the Montreal Canadiens. We talk about winning the Stanley Cup — the highest honor in the NHL — every time the team goes on a winning streak. True fans though will love the Habs even when they lose.
No matter what, a certain energy sweeps through the entire city on hockey nights. On those nights, a Habs win — or loss — is written all over people’s faces. But the best feeling is inside the Bell Centre. We have one of the loudest and proudest fans in the NHL.
Trades can have a huge effect on our hockey town. When superstar defenseman P.K. Subban was traded to Nashville, the city flooded with mixed emotions. Some were happy about Team Canada stalwart Shea Weber joining the team. Yet a majority of us were devastated.
Subban gave so much love to Montreal. Despite being an export, he was a Montrealer at heart. In his first game back in the city against the Canadiens — in an ugly Predators jersey — the entire Bell Centre erupted in a standing ovation. It literally brought tears to everyone’s eyes. It’s not just hockey for us, it’s a way of life.
8. You Know The Best Poutine Stops
If you are a Montrealer and have never had a poutine in your life, we may question your birth certificate. Montrealers have stomachs full of fries, cheese curds and gravy. To people who have never heard of this combination, it may sound kind of gross, but somehow it works and is so delicious.
La Belle Province has an authentic poutine, a typical Quebecer go-to if you don’t mind the extra grease with your fast food. If you crave for more sophistication though, head to La Banquise. Located on Rachel Street, it’s famous for being open 24 hours a day. It’s a popular haunt among locals looking for a quick grub after a night out.
La Banquise specializes in over 30 different kinds of poutine variations. You can order anything from guacamole and hot peppers to pulled pork and creamy coleslaw, each one better than the last. Forget about maintaining that slim waist and grab a taste of this cultural phenomenon ASAP!
7. You jam at the TAMS
Locals and newcomers all know this Sundays hot spot. The tam tams — colloquially known as tams — is a weekly unofficial summer festival located at the foot of Mount Royal,near the George-Étienne Cartier Monument.
Everyone gathers around the main statue to enjoy the warm afternoon and music together. Musicians play their hand drums — hence the name — while performance artists do all kinds of cool moves. There are vendors selling all kinds of trinkets. People relax with a few beers and joints and enjoy an all-around peaceful vibe.
It usually starts late in the morning and goes on until sunset. Cops don’t usually annoy anyone even though alcohol consumption and mild drug use are pervasive at this countercultural event.
6. Perpetual Construction Zone
Construction… sigh… As a Montrealer, you probably don’t even want to read the word because you are just DONE with it all! Over the past decades, road work has become a HUGE problem for anyone visiting or living in Montreal. Orange cones and detours have become the norm in your daily commute.
And it isn’t only drivers, pedestrians and cyclists too have to find new ingenious ways to get around because streets are so often blocked. If you somehow magically manage to avoid a roadblock, construction zone or detour, consider yourself blessed by the commuter gods. Getting even a somewhat normal commute from A to B is quite rare nowadays.
Meanwhile, many Montrealers have downloaded the Wayz App., found secret ways around town. We’ve officially and unwillingly accepted that we’re stuck in some B.S traffic and giant never ending construction site.
5. You Know Your Smoked Meat And You Love It
Smoked meat! Yes! Our prized possession that is oh-so-delicious. Even Anthony Bourdain had a taste of it on his travel show Parts Unknown. He hit up Schwartz’s deli to showcase our world-renowned smoked meat.
The oldest deli in Canada has over 80 years in business. It’s simple, straight-to-the-point and in constant demand. There always seems to be a lineup at the restaurant. To cater to the ever-growing clientele, they’ve branched out and created online ordering, catering and take out services.
Reuben’s deli and The Main — right across the street from Schwartz’s — also serve a mean smoked meat. Try them all and enjoy every bite.
4. Griping About The Weather
There’s often no need for a weather channel or application, because every Montrealer is a walking, talking weather forecast. It’s almost amusing to find a dozen people on Facebook talking about that crazy hailstorm or that solar eclipse. For some reason Montrealers have a fixation on reporting the weather.
“Wow, look at how much it’s raining today! We’re soaked!” or “I can’t deal with this heat, I am sweating way too much.” Ahem… come winter, you will be wishing you had a bit of that sunshine “ruining” your day again.
It’s a toss up too with weather these days. We just had a tornado for crying out loud! Who would have thought that our little Canadian city would be facing a random mini tornado?! We never know what kind of weather or phenomena we’ll be subjected to each day. Still, we’re sure we’ll hear about it from someone!
3. We’re Proud Of Our Party Scene
Let’s face it, Montreal is a place to party! There’s always some form of festival, show or gathering going down no matter what season. In winter, we all get bundled up in our snow suits and have a blast at Igloofest. This outdoor music festival features different DJs and plenty of outdoor ice games — how Canadian, eh?
We also know how to dance our asses off in our bathing suits at the Beach Club come summer. Some recent famous acts that performed there include Sean Paul, Lil Jon, T-Pain and many more.
We are also proud of our International Jazz Fest. We combine an amazing lineup of free outdoor concerts with private shows featuring renowned artists. Montreal is not just about the clubs and bars, we take partying to an all other level all throughout the year.
2. Public Transit Is Always Late
If you are one of the many who have swapped your car for public transport, you know it’s both a blessing and a curse. Yes, you are saving on gas and avoiding bloody construction sites. Despite that switch, life isn’t a breeze.
Far too often, you’ve been in the lineup checking the time wondering where the hell your bus, metro or train is. You’ve been among angry passengers, late to catch your connection, missing your important meeting. Why oh why does Montreal insist on running their transport late?!
We sometimes wonder why there’s a schedule because it seems as those the drivers run on their own time. We stick it out though because there isn’t much we can do. We call work to let our bosses know we are stuck on the metro because of some 30 minute delay. The struggle is too real in Montreal, folks.
1. We Drink Unfiltered Tap Water
We don’t mind sticking our thirsty heads under the faucet to take a big gulp of tap water. Elsewhere though, a fancy water filter jug is full and sitting nice and chilled in the fridge. In a lot of other places around the world, people avoid drinking water from the tap.
Besides from the occasional contaminated water warnings, the island of Montreal has a pretty clean record when it comes to drinkable water. There was definite concern when news broke that raw sewage would be dumped in the St-Lawrence River — even though it wasn’t the first time it occurred.
Don’t get us wrong though: the water doesn’t come straight from the St. Lawrence River. There are 6 different water plants in Montreal that allow us to drink from the tap without a second thought. Otherwise, we’d all be walking around with an extra eyeball. So, bottoms up Montreal! Cheers to our beautiful city with everything we love and hate about it!