Ottawa vs Montréal: A Day in the Life

We recently hopped over to Montréal for a short back-to-school shopping trip and I couldn’t help noticing again how different Montréal is to a lot of other Canadian cities. It’s a fun city to visit and spend a bit of time in. I’m not sure I could live there full-time, though. Even though Ottawa is less than 2 hours away, they’re very different cities. Though those of you who go back and forth a lot, probably have a better insight on this than I do, here are some of the differences that always strike me, the occasional visitor:

  1. People in Montréal dress better; with more style, flair and imagination.
  2. People in Montréal smoke a hell of a lot more. I inhaled more second-hand smoke there in a day than I have in Ottawa over the last year.
  3. The food in Montréal is amazing. We barely had time for shopping between meals and snacks. So many great eateries. So many eatables.  So little time.
  4. People in Montréal eat all day long. From 11:00 am until way into the night, the restaurants, bistros, and cafes are packed. In Ottawa they all close up for most of the afternoon and many of them shut down mid-evening.
  5. Montréal people walk up and down escalators. They don’t just stand there sluggishly enjoying the ride. In fact, they seem more active in general. More people take stairs. People don’t gather in clumps waiting to go through the one door that someone has already opened when there are several other doors available for use if only you had the energy to walk over and open it. And, people walk really fast in Montréal.
  6.  There aren’t as many obese people in Montréal. (Or maybe their stylish clothes help to disguise their figure flaws?).
  7.  Men, in Montréal look at women with appreciation — all women, young or old.  It’s always disconcerting at first to be looked at and smiled at so intently – and to be flirted with by waiters and store clerks and even panhandlers. In Ottawa and every other Canadian city I’ve been in over the last 20 years, I’m pretty much invisible.
  8. Traffic signs and lights are only suggestions in Montréal.
  9. Ottawa is cleaner. Montréal seems kind of grubby in general. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because the buildings don’t look well maintained. Maybe because there’s lots of garbage around.  Maybe because the people are so dazzlingly good-looking that it makes the environment pale by comparison. I do know that all those sexy “laps dancing”, “nudes dancers”, and “pleasuring toys” shops don’t help the general ambience much.
  10. Everybody in Montréal seems constantly to be involved in intense conversations involving a lot of arm-waving and hand-flapping. In Ottawa you can see people sitting together in restaurants or walking together down the street without talking at all.