My parents, who live in northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. recently drove up to my recently purchased condo in the Plateau Mont-Royal district of Montreal. In thanks for their anteing up 25% of the cash down on my place (and thereby making my life and mortgage easier), as a part of their visit as a treat, I bought them tickets on VIA Rail from Montreal-Halifax.
I’ve lived in Montreal for quite some time now, but in different parts of town, and I’d been looking forward to introducing them to my quartier, which happens to be my favourite neighbourhood anywhere, the Plateau. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when Mom fell for the living, breathing charm of it all, especially loving the ambience of the Parc Lafontaine, whose “pond” was far bigger than she’d imagined. She told me she felt transported to Europe, with people sitting on benches relaxing with friends, with the music of guitarists and woodwind instruments suffusing the air. She felt she finally understood why it was that I seemed so hell-bound on living in the area!
The Quebec portion of the trip, Montreal again won my parents hearts not only through their stomachs as usual (they enjoy the superior, fresh breads), but also from a day trip to Mont Saint-Hilaire, only a 40 minute drive from the city. Although I’d heard Mont-Saint Hilaire was nice, (being my first time here also), I expected mostly pleasant wooded paths through forest. As a result, I was surprised when the exit from the Autoroute leading to the Centre Nature lead us by some attractive, charming Richelieu River-front homes, a silver-steepled church and some handsome orchards along the way. Once at the Centre-Nature, I was again surprised at the beauty, as a 0.5km wooded path lead directly to Lac Hertel, where we felt almost transported to the boreal wilderness as the picnic tables we sat at and the paths arriving were the only sign of man’s presence around the circumference of the lake. My Mom, an active birder, had a special treat since while we were admiring the frogs, tadpoles and little fish swimming hither and thither, the rare (in Virginia) rose-breasted grosbeak perched on a branch maybe 6 feet away from all our eyes for a good 2 minutes. Even know-little-about-birds ME felt it was a special moment.
Next installment: my parents see Maritime Canada for the first time in their 68 years on this Earth.
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Montreal to Halifax: Showing My Parents A Smidgeon of My Favourite Things in Eastern Canada