Notre-Dame Basilica - La Basilique Notre-Dame

Montreal Trip

posted in: Photography, Travel | 0

I was not particularly looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because it was going to be the first Thanksgiving since my mom passed away. This first year without her has been rough but holidays so far this year have not been more difficult than any other day because we did not usually do much for them. But my mom always really enjoyed Thanksgiving and especially Christmas.

Rather than have a somber holiday at home, my brother, Holly, and I talked about taking a trip. After surprisingly little discussion, we decided to go to Montreal. It felt like the right choice because it is within driving distance, and they would not be celebrating Thanksgiving there so we would not have to worry about places being crowded or closed.

One concern I had was going somewhere farther north that late in the year, but I did some research and was relieved to see that normally Montreal would not be all that much colder than here in Philadelphia. However, it turned out to be atypically cold. It was in the teens (Fahrenheit) when we arrived. Was as low as 3 one morning. And never got above the low 20’s. It snowed the first night there (making for a rather tense drive for my poor brother). The weather kept us from doing as much as we might have done otherwise, but we still had a great time and were happy with our choice. Holly had been to Montreal before, but neither my brother nor I had been. We drove up on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and drove back Saturday.

Because of the forecast, I decided to buy a camera more suited to the cold and snow. Montreal was my first serious test of my new Olympus TG-5. Overall, I was mostly pleased with the results, but I was hoping for even better pictures from it. I found the photos only slightly better than my phone camera. But there are some differences that make it worthwhile for me. One is that it can capture pictures in RAW format meaning that I have more flexibility with editing. It is also a lot easier to use than my phone. Especially in the cold weather, I was glad I was able to take pictures quickly with one hand.

I had taken pictures of the frost on the window of our hotel room with both the Olympus and with my Samsung S9 Plus. I actually prefer the second photo taken with my phone.

Frost on Our Hotel Window
Frost on Our Hotel Window
Frost on Our Hotel Window
Frost on Our Hotel Window

I need to keep in mind that the Olympus is still very new to me, and I still have to learn its idiosyncrasies.

The first day, we went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. They had a fascinating special exhibit: Alexander Calder Radical Inventor. I was familiar with Calder from my trips to the Guggenheim in New York and the National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington DC. But I was not aware of the wide breadth of his work. We spent a good part of the first day at the museum and, partly because of the weather, spent part of the next day there as well.

Later that second afternoon, we went to L’Observatoire – Au Sommet Place Ville Marie which my brother had found. It provided a 360 degree view of the city.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A friend of mine who I know from my days as a media librarian now works there. When she saw me post something about going to Montreal, she contacted me to make arrangements to get together. She offered to give us a tour of the CBC located in the Maison Radio-Canada building constructed in 1973. They are in the process of constructing a new home down the street so it was fortunate to get a chance to see the CBC’s longtime home. I was too busy getting caught up with my friend to take any pictures, but Holly got a picture of their archives.

CBC Film Archive
Holly’s Picture of the CBC Film Archive

Our last day felt the coldest as we made our way to Old Montreal. Our main goal was the Notre-Dame Basilica which lived up to its reputation. The inside was truly amazing. Although my photos turned out pretty good, I hope to get back to Montreal one day with my better camera and revisit the Basilica to take even more photos.

We tried wandering Old Montreal a little more but the cold was a deterrent. We ended up ducking into Centre d’histoire de Montréal. In addition to featuring a history of the city (which I found interesting since I didn’t know much), they had a special exhibition about the Expo of 1967 which was fascinating. I knew of the Expo but wasn’t all that familiar with the details. Perhaps it struck a chord with me since it commenced just the year before I was born. I was so engaged with the exhibit that I did not take any pictures.

Considering the context of this being the first Thanksgiving without my mom, the trip was a positive and therapeutic way to deal with our loss. Coincidentally, shortly after coming home, I came across this article from Psychology Today about the benefits of travel. Now that I am in my 50’s, I am hoping to make travel more of a regular routine and reap some of these benefits.

You can see the rest of my Montreal pictures on Flickr as well as Holly’s album.

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