Montreal Mural Festival

When summer rolls around in Montreal, you can be sure of a couple of things: road works which send you off on complicated detours and festivals!

One of my absolute favourite festivals is the Mural Festival.

Two weeks to watch the artists at work and the murals emerge, and to wander up and down St Laurent without having to worry about traffic. And maybe visit the Breton crêperie or the Portuguese bakery or any number of coffee places or clothes boutiques, or the Enchanted Forest, a park taken over by yoga, dance, musicians and Lululemon for the duration of the Festival. I’d never realized before how very Continue reading

Montreal Grand Prix, French Lessons and Minis

I’m not a fan of the Grand Prix – the noise (pounding music, screaming tires, revving engines), the wasted resources (yes, I know, those tourist dollars coming into Montreal – but think of the taxpayers’ subsidies going out), the ‘vroom virus’ that infects even normally sedate drivers, making street crossing an extreme sport.

On the other hand, some of the doors are impressive.

Montreal Grand Prix 2017

What’s with the doors that open Continue reading

Montreal’s 18th Century Market

Montreal's 18th Century MarketI’d lived in Montreal for years before I discovered the annual 18th Century Market. Now I never miss it.

The market takes place in Montreal’s first market square, Place Royale, which is between the St Lawrence River and the Old Customs House (L’Ancienne Douane), built 1836-36.

Montreal's 18th Century Market

As the city is on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) people, their Continue reading

150 Words For 150 Years

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday (for Europeans of course, not for those who were already here) Atwater Writers Exhibition ran a writing contest: 150 Words For 150 Years.

Writers submitted from all over Canada, the U.S., and several other countries too, such as India and Serbia.

I wrote a non-fiction piece about two particular incidents, 86 years apart, involving my grandmother’s copper kettle.

The kettle was given to her in 1912, a wedding present, just days before she and my grandfather (six days married) set sail from England for Canada. My mother gave the kettle to me when Continue reading

Raising Charles Joseph’s Totem in Montreal

'Residential School Totem Pole' carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, BC, being raised at the Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts 2017
I happened to be passing as the ‘Residential School Totem,’ carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, BC, was being raised outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Of course I had to stop and watch even though it was Continue reading

The Challenges of Judging a Children’s Writing Competition

Even though I’ve graded any number of school and university students’ papers, exams and projects, I’ve never enjoyed it. That’s an understatement. I loathe grading!

So why did I volunteer to join a judging committee for a children’s writing competition?

I suppose I felt it was a small way to give back to the larger writing community. I’ve been so lucky to have wonderful generous mentors and friends who’ve taken the time to give me advice and feedback.

In any case, what could be so hard about helping judge a children’s writing competition?

Plenty, as it turned out! Continue reading

Opening the Door to Backstory

Backstories are always fascinating to a fiction writer. How can you know the characters in your story if you don’t know what’s happened in their past and how that’s affected them?

Is that why I feel so sad when I see yet another of Montreal’s beautiful old mansions bite the dust? Because when we’ve lost Montreal’s old buildings, we won’t know Montreal?

I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was of this building Continue reading