Canadian traveller Tiffany Magee (28) felt a strong calling to visit Australia four years ago. She has been exploring Australia on a working holiday and has seen more of Australia than many Australians! Now living in Queensland, her first-hand experiences of exploring Australia has given her a unique perspective about her homeland. Canada is a land of lakes and rivers and while her heart is in two lands, Canada is home, and where her family is. But she also loves so much about Australia. We caught up with her to find out what she misses most about Canada why she loves Montreal in winter.
What do you miss about Canada?
I come from Quebec (Montreal) and I miss the changing of the leaves. It’s nice having the four seasons because you get to experience different moods. In Australia, time seems to fold into one big season.
In Canada, there’s no denying the changes of the seasons. You notice time passing and experience four different ways of life throughout the year.
There’s the summer heat and humanity while in fall all of the leaves change colour and the trees are on fire.
In winter there’s the snow and long dinners. In spring, you’re running around amongst the flowers.
What’s your favourite city in Canada?
Montreal was where I grew up. I moved there when I was 12. I got to see those experiences with fresh eyes so it has been a very special place and a city I cherish.
Montreal is great for its artists and it’s an expressive funky city.
The most popular part is the old port along the water where the Cathedral Notre Dame, which is sensational.
Actually, the cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful, even though it’s but small. There’s the festival of lights, when the cathedral is decorated with different light shows in late fall or early winter.
The old port, despite being a massive tourist attraction, is also a local spot as it has beautiful old architecture.
Along the St Lawrence River, which used to be a port, there are old silos and massive warehouses that have been restored and New York loft-style apartments.
Compared to Aussie prices you’ll get lots of bang for your buck in Montreal. Montreal is probably one of the cheapest big cities to live. I used think it was expensive until I came to Australia!
What about the food?
Montreal has amazing restaurants in random spots. But my favourite restaurants are in the Old Port. I really do think that’s where the best restaurants are.
Montrealers are particularly proud of their chefs, like Chuck Hughes of Garde Manger and Le Bremner, who shot to fame when he won the Iron Chef America competition with his Lobster Poutine. Montreal went wild when that happened!
Where to shop in Montreal
Rue St Denis is the main French Street and that’s where you go for shopping, great cafes, French cheese shops and funky boutiques. It’s quirky and interesting.
Look out for the colourful Quebec style that has emerged and Montreal fashions.
It’s also a young street full of fun. There are cat cafes (Café du chat) where you can go and sit and drink coffee while the cats rub up against your ankles and head!
For nightlife, St Lawrence is the place. It’s the original main street of Montreal and it has grown to become massive.
Rue St Lawrence has become a dining and entertainment spot where you’ll find your lounges, bars, music clubs and jazz clubs.
What’s Special in Quebec?
Winter is a season we don’t really get to experience in Australia, not like in Canada.
I miss the beauty of winter. Walking on to a street freshly blanketed in fresh snow is quiet and calm.
I miss skiing and snowboarding every weekend. There’s a whole range of mountains from 20 minutes to one hour 45 minutes outside of Montreal.
Where are the best places to go skiing in Quebec?
The highest peak in the Laurentians is Mt Tremblant. It’s the most expensive but it has an incredible village with so many activities. You’ll be doing something different every day. It’s windier and colder than the other mountains.
I prefer Mt Blanc because it’s cheaper and smaller. Mt Blanc is where a lot of the locals go. It’s still the second highest mountain in the Laurentians. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from Montreal so locals don’t usually stay overnight. But there are lots of ski-in ski-out chalets on the mountain if you’re looking for somewhere to stay.
If you’re an expert skier I’d recommend going to Mt Sutton in the Eastern Townships.
Near Quebec City, Le Massif is really good because over half of the trails are black diamonds. The best thing about Le Massif is the amazing view of the St Lawrence from just about anywhere on the mountain.
Where should Aussies go in winter?
I’d definitely recommend Aussies should go to the East. It’s different to rest of Canada.
The Eastern Townships has some of the most beautiful landscape you’ll ever come across.
It’s smaller but more accessible to explore. You could talk for a whole day about Quebec City alone.
It has beautiful architecture and it lets off this vibe that makes you feel like you’re somewhere else. Then there’s the French tradition of really long dinners.
On the weekends you go skiing and snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, movies, libraries, art museums.
What else is there to do in Montreal?
In summer Montrealers are outside enjoying every part of the summer, walking and biking.
I miss the festival season (from June to August) when there are so many festivals like the Jazz Fest, Comedy Fest, Caribbean, African.
Every Wednesday and Saturday night there’s fireworks in the old town. You sit by the water and watch the fireworks and listen to music.
A lot of people take the train so you get to see the whole country from west to east. I’ve done the entire east side and it has so much to offer but no one ever goes there.
I love Canada. It’s my home. Montreal is an incredible city. It’s so perfect. It’s small and has a great vibe and so much to do. Every place is quality. I love it but I also love Australia.
Tiffany Magee is a Canadian who lived in Australia
When planning your trip to Canada, consider taking the trans Canada railway for a leisurely chug through the country.