As a child I used to daydream about what it would be like to visit a dog show. Years of looking at The New York Times’ coverage of the Westminster Dog Show trained me for the day that I would finally see a dog show in the flesh. I would say it was akin to the armchair traveller finally leaping into a real life voyage — and perhaps also like young fashion students attending their first fashion show in Paris. Well, this was not Paris, nor was it in New York City where the Westminster Dog Show holds their annual event. But I was excited to drop in for day two of the three day Annual Montréal Dog Show held by the United Kennel Club. This year’s event was conveniently at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montréal from Friday November 7th to Sunday the 9th.
The Forks Market
105 Waterfront Drive
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Have you ever been to Manitoba? As a Torontonian living in Montréal, I tend to hang around the central-eastern parts of my huge country. But when the opportunity arises, I like to cover untrodden regions of this 9,984,670 square kilometre nation and it’s not too often that I get to out west. When we Canadians talk about Western Canada (or way over there from where I’m from), we mean the province of Manitoba and its neighbours to its left — Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Manitoba was one of the few provinces that I had not discovered until recently when I visited the southern parts of this prairie terrain. And where’s a better place to discover Winnipeg culture than The Forks, a lovely meeting place of community and commerce for the past 6,000 years?
Humans aren’t alone in suffering from digital distraction, an anecdotal condition widely covered by New York Times trend pieces over the last few years. The Guardian reports (in a seemingly tongue-in-cheek tone) that technology is ruining nature too. The Dorset Wildlife Trust is asking people to stop using bird-call apps designed to draw birds to their cameras, to snap shots of them. Use of the apps is said to be distracting the birds from more important things, like taking care of their offspring.
Dog Exercise Enclosure (Aire d’Exercice Canine)
At Rue de Mentana and Rue Saint-Gregoire
Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier (“Parc Laurier”) is one of my favourite parks in Montréal. It is situated in the Plateau neighbourhood on the north side of Laurier between Rue de Mentana to the west and Rue de Brébeuf to the east, and enclosed at rue Saint-Gregoire to the north.
The park is perfect because of all the amenities it offers and reminds me of why I love Montréal. In my home town of Toronto, the parks are sub par and kind of analogous to the quality of bread between the two cities — absolutely amazing in Montréal and mostly garbage in Toronto. Toronto parks are often small green spaces haphazardly inserted into neighbourhoods without too much thought or love. That is, you will find a short walkway, a small play area and equipment for children, and if you are lucky you might get tennis courts and maybe a hockey arena in the winter. Some groups of teenage kids might hang out the areas where there is concrete to practice skateboarding tricks, dog walkers quickly stroll by, and a few toddlers may be supervised in the playground. (I know there are some excellent parks in Toronto, such as Trinity Bellwoods, but I find these more of an anomaly, particularly in the downtown areas.)
Here in Montréal, the parks are loved. They are used to their fullest, even in the winter. Parks are an important element of every neighbourhood and are vast green spaces used by surrounding residents. A hockey arena or two are erected in the cold months, and often the park administrators will pool water into a corner for free ice skating. In the warmer months, families and friends bring bottles of wine to sit in the grass and share a meal, amateur acrobats practice juggling and tightrope, and various organized sports are in session. It often seems that everyone in the neighbourhood are out and in the park, so much so that there is nary an empty spot in the parks. As one Québécois friend explained to me, because the residences in the city rarely have their own backyards the neighbourhood parks are instead used as an extension of their homes.
Ranch Chez Cowboy
1125, chemin Sainte-Marie
Mascouche, Québec J7K 3C2
Not everyone thinks about driving up to Mascouche, north of the islands of Montréal and Laval, just to go horseback riding. But that is precisely what we did after my boyfriend told stories about this ranch that he visited in the past called Ranch Chez Cowboy. I was curious; as a city girl I rarely deal with horses though I admire the horse-drawn carriages in the Old Port neighbourhood of Montréal. And I love animals, that is for sure. So we thought we would go visit the ranch in the old, sleepy town of Mascouche as a fun and different activity.
When drove through the rural town, passing the developed downtown area, an old cemetery, a tiny church, and finally into the driveway of the ranch. We were greeted by gaggle of geese and their token turkey friend who huddled beneath a trailer adjacent to the barn. A pen of outdoor dogs barked furiously at us and did not seem subdued by my waving and smiling. They acted tough but I still liked meeting the clowns.