Montreal has been my adopted home now for 15 months. I’m still green enough to be excited at the prospect of imminent snow but I feel more of a local now that I’ve worked out some of the city’s idiosyncrasies – yep this is the only place in the world where the sun rises in the south.
Montreal is an island where convention has taken prominent landmarks and designated them as cardinal points as opposed to relying on a boring old compass – way too 13th century for this hipster city. The St Lawrence River is considered south of downtown and therefore the opposite shore is known as the Southshore. “The Mountain” in the centre of the island (and we’ll leave that misnomer for another day) is north of downtown and therefore Laval which is across the Rivière des Prairies is considered to be north. “Up North” which is spoken of by Montrealers like another country starts less than an hour’s drive away but admittedly keeps going for a long way, as Canada tends to do, in a general northerly direction.
A quick gander at any conventional map and you’ll see that Longeuil on the Southshore is actually to the east of Montreal centre and Laval in the “north” is to the west. Probably not a huge surprise then that the West Island is neither an island or directly west, the East End is north and the “south” end of the Victoria bridge is actually further north than the “north” end. And as for the Eastern Townships……………..
Confused? Just wait until you discover: places you’re allowed to park except when you’re not, weather forecasts that have nothing to do with how hot or cold you’re really going to feel and never ever knowing exactly how much something costs until after you’ve paid for it.