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

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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

What is ‘Home’ for a Writer?

Bridge House, Ambleside, Cumbria, EnglandA writer friend who had recently moved to Montreal asked me where home was for me. Was it Montreal?

I was surprised how complicated it was to answer that. Yes, my home is in Montreal. I’ve lived here for years. But Montreal is not totally “home.” There are ways in which I’ll never feel I completely belong. For one thing, I only have to open my mouth and people know I’m not from here. I certainly don’t sound like a francophone Canadian. I don’t sound like an anglophone Canadian either.

Where are you from? I’m asked that at least once a week.

But where I came from isn’t home either. That country has changed so much that when I’m there, I’m definitely a visitor. I even have trouble working out which coin is what value when I get on the bus or go shopping.

So is home being with my husband? With my family? Or is it…

I’m clearly not the only one to have trouble pinning down the idea of ‘home.’

The panel discussion “What is Home” at the recent Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, 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

If Only This Were My Secret Door To Writing

near Beaver Lake, Mount Royal, Montreal

Just looking at these quirky little lopsided buildings in the trees to one side of Beaver Lake on “the mountain” (Montreal’s Mount Royal) makes me want to sit down and write.

I’m sure I’d finish my next story collection so much faster if I had one of these as my private writing nook.

Unfortunately that little sticker says Continue reading