|Did you ever dream of a land where the sky
is blue, the vistas breathtaking, the standard of living high, the
educational system superior, housing costs low and the prospects for the
future better than most countries of the world. Did you ever consider
traveling to a country of fresh water lakes, plains, tall mountains and
streams ready to be fished? If you did, then you’ve been dreaming of
Canada. I won’t say it’s the best country in the world. It certainly
is one of the largest, and with a population of only 30 million people
there is plenty of space to move.
Canada is a democratic country made up of countless
religions, ethnic groups, creeds, colours and backgrounds. Unlike the USA,
which fashions itself ‘a melting pot’, I live in a ‘cultural
mosaic’. My ancestors came from Russia over a century ago. My neighbors
are German, French, Italian, British, Ukrainian, Chinese, Portuguese and
Jamaican. I hear different languages in the street. And while I can
extol the virtues of being a Canadian, the best part is that I live in one
of the most vibrant, entertaining and peaceful cities in the land:
It frightens many and travel plans for many are on hold.
I want to offer you an alternative. COME TO CANADA.
The vastness of Canada prohibits one from seeing the
whole country on one trip. I myself haven’t seen it all. From Montreal
to Vancouver on the Pacific coast is a five-hour flight and it’s about
one thousand miles from the Atlantic. I suggest that visitors select areas
like the West coast with its rugged mountains and great ski resorts like
Whistler in British Columbia. One can sail around the off shore islands or
camp on a deserted part of the coast of Vancouver Island.
The regions around Jasper Alberta or Banff are magnets
for all who like fresh water lakes, mountain retreats or hiking trails and
wild animals that can be seen all along the roads. There is something
exhilarating about walking on a glacier or watching bears or deer or
mountain goats frolic near the super highways.
There are prairies with waving wheat. Canada is one of
the world’s great breadbaskets. And for those of you who like boating
and fishing, the Great Lakes are the size of inland seas. This is a very
peaceful nation, from sea to sea. Yet, with Canada’s recent decision to
get involved in the Middle East the people have shown their willingness to
join in the fight for freedom of the skies and the democratic way of life.
My suggestion is that you pack cars cars, take a train
and head north. Canada welcomes you with beauty, activities, culture and a
rate of exchange that makes it economical for any purse. I recently
exchanged a $750 cheque for Canadian cash. I received $1177.88 and
that wasn’t at the best rate of the week. The Canadian dollar is trading
at about 63 cents US. What that means is restaurants, museums, hotels, car
rentals and bar bills are about as low as you can get in North America.
Consider property values. While there are houses here at
astronomical prices, the average family dwelling is under $250,000
Canadian. A condo in the center of the city can go for as little as
$79,000 Canadian. You figure out the Math. It’s very inexpensive and the
good news is that Montreal has the lowest or close to the lowest average
house price than any major city in Canada. That means you can buy a house
or condo, use it seasonally and rent it out while you aren’t here. Even
the taxes are low for a North American metropolis. A house in Montreal
would cost twice as much in Toronto or Vancouver. Go to your bank and buy
$100 worth of Canadian dollars. You’ll be amazed at what you receive.
Buying property here is easy. Contact any of the major
real estate companies. They will have listings in all parts of the
province. A call to the Chambre des Notaires du Quebec, (The Chamber
of Notaries of Quebec) will allow you to find out how to make the
purchase. You’ll find it’s very easy. There are no restrictions on
foreigners purchasing real estate here. Anyone can buy a property for
his/her use, as a rental or a vacation home. While there is no capital
gains tax, you might have to pay a withholding tax when you sell. It is a
small amount and based on the profit made on the sale. My best advice is
to find a property through a major agency and get the laws straight by
calling the Notarial Board. A notary in Quebec, unlike in other countries,
is a lawyer involved only in real estate. You’ll need their help to
obtain a deed of sale. There are notaries in Montreal who you can talk to
in almost any language. They can be reached at (514) 879 1793 or by
writing La Chambre des Notaires du Quebec at 630 Rene Levesque Blvd,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The largest real estate companies are Royal Lepage
Or Remax at www.remax-quebec.com
It’s best to know what area you want to live in. That’s why I
recommend a trip to Montreal or Quebec City.
An hour’s research taught me that a condo in a good
area can be as low as $84,000 and that’s the ‘asking price’ in
Canadian dollars. Middle income family homes with 3 or 4 bedrooms in the
suburbs but close to the city are well under $200,000 Cdn. If you can get
a copy of the Saturday edition of the Montreal Gazette, there are pages
and pages of listings.
A recent survey suggests that a growing number of
parents are opting to buy condos for their children coming to Montreal to
attend university. And the cost of university is another good thing. Even
with inflated rates for out of town students, attending university
(anywhere) in Canada is a bargain. Even Canadians from other provinces
know that buying and reselling, even without a profit, is better than just
renting. And the bonus is that Montreal universities have an excellent
reputation. I taught here for 37 years. I know the quality of higher
Lets look at the Provence de Quebec as a possible
destination. There are a number of areas for you to consider. Rurally
there is the area north of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains. Dotted
with lakes, towns and cottage communities, the Laurentians has been a
popular playground for visitors to the area since the 1930’s. There is a
super highway to get you there and one of the best ski villages in the
east at Mont Tremblant. The trip is only an hour and a half from downtown
Montreal. On the way you’ll pass other ski centres or villages where you
can buy local crafts at bargain prices. Even if you rent a place in
Tremblant you will pay only $400-$650 for a 2-bedroom condo for five
nights including 6-day lift tickets, a fully equipped kitchen,
washer/dryer, fireplace and a free shuttle to the lifts. Contact them at www.tremblant.com
or call 1 888 666 8008 for reservations.
The hills are awesome. And the view from the top is
truly memorable. The best news is that it is only an hour and a half from
Montreal. Of course if you buy a house in the Laurentians, you are there
that much faster.
Get in touch with the Montreal Tourist at www.tourism-montreal.org
The same can be said for the Eastern Townships, south
east of Montreal. Here too there are lakes, forests and wonderful ski
venues. Lakes Massawippi or Memphremagog are miles across, filled with
fish, water skiers and pleasure boats. Within a few hours there are at
least a dozen excellent ski hills such as Orford, Owl’s Head or Mount
Sutton. Most of the villages have numerous antique furniture stores.
Quebec antiques are in demand all through Canada and beyond.
Quebec City and the area east to the Atlantic is a
playground of skiers, boaters, naturalists, hikers and artists. The area
called Charlevoix on the north shore of the St Lawrence River boasts
mountains down to the river, fjords along the Sageunay and whales spawning
in the waters near Tadoussac. It’s thrilling to watch the Belugas appear
and disappear as the feed in the pleasant waters. At la Malbaie you
will find The Chateau Richelieu one of the best hotels in the region. It
boasts a championship golf course and a full gambling casino if that’s
There are other areas too but for me, you haven’t see
Quebec unless you visit Quebec City, the capital, or Montreal, truly the
most exciting city and the largest in the province. Traveling to Quebec
City is like traveling to a foreign country. It is the most European city
you will see and the last in Canada that still has its protective wall.
Quebec is filled with history and is predominantly French. But don’t
worry about language. In the hotels and restaurants they will smile,
welcome you and speak English. The most prestigious hotel is The Chateau
Frantenac (Tel: 1-418-692-3861)with 605 rooms in the upper town, looking
down at the old city with its cobbled streets and historical sites. You
can visit the Plains of Abraham where in 1759 a battle between the French
and the British decided the future of Canada. That’s when Britain took
possession of what was then Canada.
For this writer the most exciting place to visit in
Quebec is, by far, Montreal. This island city of over two and a half
million people is upscale, exciting and visually splendid. It boasts Mount
Royal, rising in the center of the island. Not only is it a playground
with bicycle paths, a small lake and picnic grounds, but from the numerous
lookouts you can see a modern city spread out below, filled with activity,
culture and awe. I have often heard people say it’s their favourite
city. I understand why. There are theatres in two languages, museums, an
amusement park, a museum at the Fort at Ste Helen’s Island, a famous
hockey team now playing in a new multi million-dollar arena and the legacy
of the Olympic games with housing and a magnificent stadium. You can tour
the stadium and take an elevator to the top of the symbolic tower. From
there you can get a bird’s eye view of a magnificent modern city. This
is where The Cirque du Soleil, now an international spectacle, got
started. In the area around the harbour, called Old Montreal, there are
narrow cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages and street vendors,
entertainers and happy tourists. This are lets you witness the origins and
growth of the original colony. It is a gourmet’s paradise. There are
more restaurants in Montreal than you can visit in a lifetime. Every
ethnic dish is available and remember, the prices are in Canadian dollars.
We have a casino too with Las Vegas type shows, 3000
slot machines, 120 gaming tables and a 5* restaurant. Add to all that a
Botanical Garden, Biosphere, River boats, four major universities, a
center for architecture, numerous golf courses, a race track and an
international fireworks competition each summer. Add in a jazz festival,
film festival, Just For Laughs Museum and some of the best Historical
Museums and you have other reasons to visit.
The real Estate people are always interested in showing
you what you can buy. There is some excellent investment properties here
as the city grown and immigration continues.
Don’t omit an evening on Crescent Street. That’s
where the action is all year long. There are bars, restaurants for all
budgets and sumptuous Victorian architecture housing luxury boutiques.
It’s all part of an ambiance and a feeling of what Quebecois call a
‘joie de vivre’.
Montreal is waiting. The best time, unless you are a
skier is the spring and autumn when the leaves turn red and all of Quebec
is painted in rich tones of red, orange, yellow, brown and green. Bring
your cameras. There is no more perfect visual image than Quebec in the
fall. Summers are hot but that’s when most tourists invade the
restaurants, museums and the ballpark. Baseball too is a part of this up
to date and inexpensive city.
For general tourist information telephone
1-877-BONJOUR (266-5687) or email: www.bonjourquebec.com.
Les Filles du Roy (Daughters of the king)
33 St Paul ST E. (Old Montreal)
The name comes from the women who were sent over here
during the early years of settlement to marry and settle here. The
restaurant is very OLD MONTREAL with costumes and antique furniture in a
building dating back to the first inhabitants.
CASINO Restaurant ‘Nuances’
Ste Helen’s Island
Phone: 5140 392 2746
This is part of Montreal’s Casino. The restaurant was
awarded a diploma for excellence in 2001. The menu is created according to
the theme of the show. It’s a favorite of people who do not gamble at
93 de la Commune St. E.
This typical restaurant serves food deserving of the
Gastronomy Award it recently received.
Le Festin Du Gouverneur
Old Fort at Saint-Helen’s island
This is a must for people who want to discover what a
meal and entertainment was like in the first days of this city. Don’t be
surprised if you become part of the entertainment. But you will eat well
at a set price and return home with a smile on your face.
THE ABOVE RESTAURANTS ARE NO MORE THAN $60 PP wine &
Tip Incl. Tax is 15% more.
A good steak dinner with salad, and trimmings, plus wine
and desert can be found at The BIFTEQUE near the Dorval airport.
The price is about $20 pp plus
tip & tax.
There is also MOISHE’S at
3961 St Lawrence (The Main). It’s a traditional steak house with many
Jewish dishes added. It’s a little pricey but visitors to Montreal are
never disappointed. Tel 514-845-3509
For Jazz and ribs try BIDDLES JAZZ & RIBS INC. I am
never sorry when I hear great music in a happy atmosphere in the heat of
the city at 2060 Aylmer, especially when Charlie Biddle is there.. A great
meal for $20-25 plus wine, tip and taxes.
Hilton Montreal Bonaventure ***** An exceptional hotel
Hotel Omni Mount-Royal *****
Also exceptional $160-$320
Chateau Versailles **** My favourite
$125-$240 Cdn. Prize winning hotel.
This is a small renovated old building on a street
filled with great restaurants, antique shops and some of the best art
galleries in the city.
BED & BREAKFAST
Manoir Harvard (Award winning)
**** 5 rooms $175 Each Cdn
“Best B&B in Montreal”
In a residential area, near shops and public
# # #
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)