Santa’s Coming to Town

We missed the beginnings of Christmas in Toronto, but we were able to catch the Santa Parade Canada - Montreal November 2015 177here in Montreal. We did get a late start leaving the apartment, but when we arrived at the parade route, it still was not overly crowded. Children and adults alike were sitting patiently with their deer antlers trying to look festive for the occasion. Maybe they had hopes that Santa would ask them to guide his sleigh on the most important night of the year.

Canada - Montreal November 2015 152Initially, all that passed us by were fire engines, police cars, and ambulances. Thinking this was rather lame, we left when we could not see anything more festive following down the street.

There is a Sculpture Garden around the Canada - Montreal November 2015 159Fine Arts Museum. Wrapping around the museum grounds and across the street, there are over a dozen sculptures decorating the lawns. Some are simplistic in their designs, while others are quite intricate pieces requiring some greater amount of Canada - Montreal November 2015 170study in order to appreciate them fully. That said, the weather has gotten colder by about five degrees each day; standing outside to study art, considering the wind chill factor, is not my idea of a good time. Sometimes, you need to relish the moment in a moment’s time.Canada - Montreal November 2015 184

Outside of one public building is a huge statue that almost blocks the entrance to the building itself. I had read this was a controversial piece of art. Called Illuminated Crowd, the material used for the creation is polyester. It is quite overwhelming and demands your time. Once close to it, you feel a need to take your time to visit with each of the characters intermingled in the crown. Some only have their heads visible from the sidewalk view, but they would still Canada - Montreal November 2015 190 feel slighted if they did not have a minute of your time. What a most satisfying work this was. There are at least a dozen story starters within this statue.

Canada - Montreal November 2015 195As we continued wandering around downtown wondering what to do next, we heard a band playing. This signified the parade was more celebratory than when we had left the first time. Returning, we saw that it indeed was. There were giant Gingerbread people, clowns, dozens of elves, many floats with various Christmas themes, but someCanada - Montreal November 2015 215 parts of the parade were strangely discordant with the holiday mood. One group of men were dressed as the Ghost Busters walking along side of a convertible car that held their ghost nemesis. Another car was decked out to look like the automobile from Back to the Future with a number of people resembling the characters of the movie. Of course, there were floats that were subliminally advertising current toy products with people dressed as the characters of children’s movies.

Canada - Montreal November 2015 233When it became too commercial, we left, but still even after an hour into the parade, the crowds were not as deep as one would expect. Knowing that La Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal had guided tours and we missed the last tour on the last visit, we tried again. A tour had just started, but we were able to join it. Unfortunately, this non-moving tour requires the tour guide to explain everything while participants sit in the pews. The group was large making it difficult to hear as other tourists were wandering freely around the church. Whether you take the tour or not, the admission is $5.

Canada - Montreal November 2015 242I barely paid attention to the guide, but sitting there, I had to admit the church was spectacular. With the blue just peeking out from behind the expansive amount of gold, it made a dramatic contrast.

An expected bonus occurred shortly after the ‘tour’ was over. There were plans for a rehearsal for the evenings sold out performance of the Requiem. However, there were no limitations on wandering around the church during this time. As we walked and gawked, the choir started lining up on the altar. When I was discovering the back chapel, I could hear their first notes. A half hour later, the orchestra members started filing in. For quite some time, it was pandemonium, but many of the church visitors took to the pews to enjoy this free show. We ourselves stayed for about an hour.

Heading back to the metro, Christmas light decorations in some public building caught our eye. Canada - Montreal November 2015 255Trying the doors to see if we could see more, they indeed opened. At the back of this tremendously large office building needing a bank of 10 elevators to accommodate the masses who work there, was a skating rink. One never knows what treasures may be lurking in these buildings waiting to be discovered.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.