How to Spend a Weekend in Montreal

Posted on August 7th, 2009 by .

Last weekend, journalist extraordinaire Darrell Hartman and I walked through the streets of Montreal, chasing art galleries, museums and shops, having drinks and enjoying summertime in public parks. As his host, I wanted to show him what Montreal is really about. Read the full story to find out more.
Last weekend, I met an awesome freelance journalist from New York, DARRELL HARTMAN, and had the chance to show him around Montreal for two days. Knowing that Darrell’s hometown is chock-a-block with art and culture, I wanted to show him how my city’s creative scene is different.

It was Darrell’s first time in Montreal, and he had a very precise schedule in mind – interviews booked for JUST FOR LAUGHS, and a list of art galleries and museums to see. On Saturday morning, after a late chatting session at LAÏKA, we started off by visiting DHC/ART. What’s interesting about DHC/ART is that it brings today’s most interesting alternative artists to town, sometimes for the first time in North America. We also went to the DARLING FOUNDRY, an art space located in the middle of an industrial neighbourhood that showcases the work of artists in residence, as well as acclaimed artwork from the four courners of the world. Last stop before a midday drink was the PARISIAN LAUNDRY, with its best kept secret – a bunker that’s under the building – which presented Carolyn Salas’ giant deer antlers. I chose these three galleries because I think they reflect a new side of Montreal; they’re smaller venues that aim to integrate the city’s architecture and its public art. The old buildings aren’t simply reused; they become works of art themselves.

Later in the day, Darrell and I met on the Place des Arts esplanade and we went to the CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, which currently holds four major exhibitions – there’s a retrospective of photographer ROBERT POLIDORI’S WORK, but also an amazingly moving installation called The Final Sleep, by Spring Hurlbut. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to check out the free projections on the lower level – but you can go anytime, it’s always free, and you get to see some PRETTY COOL MUSIC VIDEOS from the best directors alive, such as Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham.

After dinner, we decided to have a chill, late evening party at LA QUINCAILLERIE – mainly because it’s ideally located in the Plateau, it has some pretty awesome cheap beers, and because you get to taste THE BEST POUTINE IN TOWN at La Banquise, which is right next door. Darrell had already tried poutine before, but seriously, nothing beats a Galvaude (a twist on the original, including chicken and peas) at 3-something in the morning.

Since Montreal is always a little slow to get going on Sunday mornings, we decided to take it easy and meet in the Mile End area to see some other cool galleries. ATELIER PUNKT is incredibly small (and hard to find on the second floor of an industrial building nowhere near civilization), but it’s also the only art gallery dedicated to young Montreal-based artists, graphic designers and illustrators. After a little talk with the owner and founder, Melinda Pap, we walked down St. Laurent and went to COMMISSAIRES, one of the city’s most beautiful art spaces and also one of my favourite spots for cool, contemporary objects.

After some quick shopping for graphic novels at DRAWN & QUARTERLY (which also publishes many foreign writers and illustrators, such as Chris Ware and Adrian Tomine), we sat on Bernard Avenue, with a little Bilboquet ice cream in our hands. It was sunny and warm; some people were already out having drinks on patios while others were stretched out on the grass reading books in the park.

I looked over and noticed Darrell was smiling. He seemed to have truly enjoyed his weekend in Montreal and said he might come back this fall. Hopefully we get to share another bottle together soon, and I can show him some other great spots in Montreal.

More articles

Let's experience Montréal

→ Select your interests
→ Live your Montréal moments
→ Get inspired for you next stay

Try the experience