Once again beating to death that metaphor of cities as romance partners: While Toronto has long been the city I could see myself married to, I’ve decided that Montréal is the city I would most like to have an affair with.
From what I’ve bee am able to determine, many actual Canadians (not just “pretend” Canadians like me) have this relationship with the two cities as well.
I think a big part of what I like about Montréal is that it seems a little more scruffy and a little less”orderly” than Toronto, which makes it much more sexy but perhaps much less appealing as a long-term partner. Not, mind you, that either is really an option for me. But Montréal is just a not quite as clean, not quite as orderly, and a whole lot cheaper. It’s also an older city that grew large much earlier than Toronto did, even though it’s quite obvious that much of its growth was in the 1950s and 1960s as well.
Random encounters with nice people in Montréal:
- The nice old gentleman who struck up a conversation with me at breakfast the other day, he with his tentalive English and me with my (very) tentative French. He complimented my language skills (he was being polite, I think) and said I looked “shy” when I spoke French.
- The antique shop owner who, when I told him I collected old supermarket merchandise and did a website on their histories, produced a 30-year-old bag for Steinberg’s, an iconic and defunct Montreal chain I was very familiar with, and proceeded to give it to me free.
- The lady at the Indian restaurant in an outlying neighborhood who asked me if a certain dish might be “too spicy” for me and was surprised towards that I make my own version of it at home. She gave me free pakoras.
Contrary to what I’ve heard, people are actually really nice and polite here and usually smiling. I think I was a little reserved last time I was here and didn’t interact with too many people because of it. That was probably kind of a mistake.