17 Jan 2022

Time 8 minutes

7 Things to Do in Old Montreal This Winter

7 Things to Do in Old Montreal This Winter

While safety measures have reduced our choice of activities, we still have fun options to pursue during our free time to ward off some of the most difficult moments of the past few months that haunt us. And to prove it, here’s a list of places in Old Montreal you can visit for some fun, all while staying safe.

1- Take a Tour of Some Expositions

Old Montreal is just bursting with art galleries displaying works from dozens of artists of all ages, all origins, and with various themes.

Centre PHI, 315 Saint-Paul West

In the unmissable Centre PHI, delve into the world of KROY. In the ANIMACHINA series of video performances, we experience the intriguing pop music of Camille Poliquin, who collaborates with robots for this project! Later this season, lose yourself in the multisensory experience Ciel à outrances, presented by Brigitte Poupart, based on the poetry of Madeleine Monette. It is a dreamlike reflection on the repercussions of terrorist attacks on the lives of people living near and far. And we can’t leave without admiring the interactive multimedia installation Route d’eau, from the windows of buildings to the side of Saint-Pierre Street. Watch an animation accompanied by verses from the great Innu author Joséphine Bacon.

Galerie Youn, 384 Saint-Paul Street West

At Galerie Youn, you can admire the rich still-lifes of Mark Liam Smith, as well as drawings by Ian Healy: complex character portraits that react to the small and big problems of everyday life.

S16, 377 Saint-Paul Street West

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, enjoy the refreshingly colourful photography by Peter Andrew Lusztyk. Upon the walls of Gallery S16, you may have guessed, hang images of decorated doughnuts, gummy bears, and giant lollipops.

2- Become an Amateur Photographer

Does gazing at the work of other artists make you want to express yourself too? Here you’ll find all the equipment you need to start out in photography and you’ll meet experts that will answer any questions you may have.

Photo Service, 222 Notre-Dame Street West

Since 1937, the masters at Photo Service have been helping Quebeckers produce beautiful images, offering sales, rentals, equipment repairs, photo lab access, and more. It’s a true value for both professionals and newbies!

Camtec Photo, 26 Notre-Dame Street East

Open for more than thirty years, Camtec Photo offers the classic services, like new and used sales, and their photo lab. But we really fell in love with their book section and their virtual gallery. On their website storefront, they’ve shared creations from photographers of all horizons. There is much inspiration to be had here!

3- Get Some Air!

Outdoor winter activities are not just reserved for skiers and ice skaters! Why not discover Old Montreal’s heritage jewels in the cold season? Plus, if you did get a new camera, this would be the ideal time to test it out! And if you start shivering too much on your expedition, stop for a moment at the Winter Garden at Place Jacques-Cartier, where the fires and Adirondack chairs await all winter long until mid-March, during evenings from Thursday to Sunday.

On the list of must-see buildings and monuments, we’ve included Bonsecours Market with its famous dome, the heart of the neighbourhood since 1847; the New York Life Insurance building, constructed in 1887, the first Canadian skyscraper; the majestic neo-gothic Notre-Dame Basilica, inaugurated in 1829; and the pink Brossard-Gauvin House, built in 1749, the only Montreal residence made of wood in the French colonial style.

And you must go say hi to Marguerite Bourgeoys, featured in the statue-fountain installed in 1988 to pay homage to the one responsible for some of the first schools in New France, as well as Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, founder of the Metropolis, whose bronze form has crowned the Place d’Armes since 1893.

4- Listen to a Piece of History

To sort of clear our minds and stretch our legs a bit, let’s take part in a free outdoor rally organised by Guidatour. Alone, as a couple, or as a family, everyone is invited to walk through the streets of the historic neighbourhood, answer some questions, and take on some fun challenges. This activity takes place every Saturday in winter, and every day during winter break is free! A fun way to learn some new things.

We can discover a page of our collective history, thanks to the twenty or so displays that make up Cité mémoire, by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, in collaboration with playwright Michel Marc Bouchard. Presented here, via image, word, and music, are the big names from Quebec history, like hockey player Maurice Richard, black slave Marie-Josèphe Angélique, the Hostesses of Expo 67, and the great Huron chief Kondiaronk.

Château Ramezay, 280 Notre-Dame Street East

Once the residence of French nobleman Claude de Ramezay in 1706, this magnificent building has served alternatively as state building and a court of law, before being transformed into a museum space at the turn of the 19th century. At Château Ramezay, you can discover permanent exhibits that help us relive, using many objects of the time, the everyday life of native, French, and English people during the time of New France.

Pointe-à-Callière, 350 Place Royale

Within the walls of this museum set on the very foundation of the metropolis, lie exhibits on a millennium of local history! You can learn more about commercial trades that allowed for the city to develop, native languages, the conventions and customs of pirates, and so much more!

At Pointe-à-Callière, you can even roam the first collector sewer in North America! And don’t forget to enjoy the final months of the temporary exhibit devoted to the flamboyant Circassian artists!

5- Give Yourself Some Unique Light Therapy!

During the fourth running of Old Montreal in Lights, twinkling structures have been spread throughout the neighbourhood, with the aim of keeping the magic of seeing Old Montreal lit up for the holidays alive a little longer. Some of our favourites: the impressive stars at Place d’Armes, the arch at Place Jacques-Cartier, the tree branch garlands over the charming Saint-Amable Street, and the magical tree near the courthouse.

6- Savour A Warm Drink

Has your Old Montreal expedition left you with rosy cheeks? To warm up a bit, go for a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in one of the neighbourhood's many specialized locations. And here are some suggestions for some original drinks that you can find in two of le Vieux’ must-sees:

Tommy Café, 151 Saint-Paul Street West and 200 Notre-Dame Street West

Tommy Café is a destination of choice for those seeking shelter from the beaten path. We can’t resist the urge to try their lavender matcha or their latte… flavoured with Lucky Charms cereal! Of course, you can order all the classics, good at any time of the year!

Crew Collective & Café, 360 Saint-Jacques Street

Now that we’re mostly working from home, do you miss the hours spent in front of your laptop at Crew Collective & Café? Make a detour here to order one of our favourite hot drinks, be it their caramel latte, a London Fog, or one of the well-renowned house Camellia Sinensis teas.

7- Revitalize Your Skin!

To start the new year off on the right foot, you have a wealth of choices from the vast relaxation and beauty offerings available in Old Montreal.

The Ten Spot, 682 Saint-Paul Street West

At beauty bar The Ten Spot, they have a mission: to make us feel like a 10/10! No doubt that one visit to this unpretentious institution, notably specializing in nail treatments, will put a smile on your face! This chain even has its own line of body care products and nail polishes.

Loft bar à ongles, 539 Bonsecours Street

The menu at Loft lets you get a makeover from head to feet: facial treatments, manicures, pedicures, hair removal, massage therapy, and eyelash treatments. This last one, in particular, is a great way to boost your looks… being that it’s the only part of the face visible when we wear our masks!

Spa William Gray, 421 Saint-Vincent Street

Tucked away in the hotel of the same name, the elegant Spa William Gray is a sure value. While it is currently impossible to take advantage of their thermal experience, they still have numerous treatments available administered by their team members. For a moment of pure luxury, try out their signature spa ritual, given on a bed of warm quartz sand!

Rainspa, 55 Saint-Jacques Street

We used to visit Rainspa in the Place d’Armes Hotel for a traditional hammam session. This treatment is not available at the moment, but this place is still worth the detour! We strongly recommend the Proskin facial treatments from Dermalogica, which have the power to completely transform your skin, and are trusted by enthusiasts in Hollywood!

N.B.: Would your business fit in here, but is not yet mentioned? Please, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@sdcvieuxmontreal.com and we will be happy to include it.

Photos: Geneviève Giguère (1-4), Guidatour (5), Tommy Café (6), Crew Collective & Café (7)