Fall getaway : Design / Art

Montreal, QC

Downtown Montreal in autumn from Mont-Royal

La belle ville offers endless design and art options for a short getaway.

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DAY ONE
Morning

The Mile-End neighbourhood of Montreal is no stranger to attention. Having been profiled in the pages of Vogue, and immortalized in Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, it’s a must-visit arrondissement. A walk through the residential streets bring to life the beauty that the city is known for, and a stop into iconic book store Drawn & Quarterly [https://www.drawnandquarterly.com] and design concept shop Bref [https://www.brefmtl.com] (both on Bernard Avenue and a block away from one another) give you a feel for the neighbourhood like a local.

Further south on St. Laurent (one of the city’s main thoroughfares), you can catch a mural walking tour offered by Spade & Palacio [https://spadeandpalacio.com]. Run by two young born-and-raised Montrealers, you’ll see over 20 works of art and get an insider’s look at the city. Tours stop running at the end of October, so book fast. Travelling after October? Check out the self-guided art tour map, More than 100 Works of Public Art in Montréal – 5 Tours to Discover, available at the Infotouriste Centre [http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/culture/en/public-art-discovery-tours] downtown.

Afternoon

After all that walking around and a little nosh at one of the Plateau’s boîtes, have a relaxing afternoon on “The Mountain” as it’s referred to colloquially. Mount Royal Park [https://www.lemontroyal.qc.ca/en] is a 200-hectare piece of land in the centre of the city and was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also co-designed New York’s Central Park). It was inaugurated in 1876 and today is a year-round destination for locals and visitors alike. Often host to events throughout the year, be sure to check out their calendar of events online to see if there’s anything happening during your visit.
EAT. SLEEP

DAY TWO
Morning and Afternoon

Grab a car and head two-hours out-of-town to the Laurentian Mountains. Dotted with small towns including Saint-Sauveur, Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard and Mont-Tremblant in the north, the Laurentians (as they’re called locally) are more than ski hills and outdoor adventure. You can arrange studio tours by contacting artisans directly and give yourself a self-guided arts crawl and explore visual arts like painting and photography, and crafts including pottery and woodworking! Start with the The Laurentians Tourism [https://www.laurentides.com/en/visual-arts-and-handicrafts] listing of artisans in the area and go from there. And during the day, stop and sample the local fare.
EAT. SLEEP

DAY THREE
Morning

Wake up and take yourself to another of Montreal’s cultural centres, the Quartier de Spectacles [https://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/]. What was once the city’s Red Light District, the Quartier is now home to over 30 performance venues, 8 public spaces and over one hundred shows a month, all within one-square kilometre. There is a downloadable walking tour so you’ll be sure not to miss anything.
In the heart of the Quartier is also the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal [https://macm.org/en/]. With a sizeable permanent collection featuring contemporary artists worth seeing, MACM’s special exhibitions start at the end of October and will showcase video installation work by German artist Julian Rosefeldt, and French-Canadian artist Francoise Sullivan.

Afternoon

Independent in so many ways as a city, it’s no surprise that the number of outstanding independent galleries is so impressive. Check out contemporary gallery’s Parisian Laundry [http://www.parisianlaundry.com/en/] and Arsenal [http://arsenalmontreal.com], and jewelry-focused space galerie Noel Guyomarch that features the work of Canadian and international artists.

UNTIL NEXT TIME.

Toronto, ON

The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal (designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind) the entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum in the city of Toronto, Ontario, CanadaArchitecture, art, shopping — the design trifecta in this Canadian megacity.

 

 

 

 

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DAY ONE
Morning

Back in the day, the dynamic strip of Queen Street West ended just west of Bathurst Street and was more shady than your average traveller wanted to experience firsthand. 25 years later, the 501 streetcar will take you all the way to West Queen West to Dufferin Street. Take a stroll and end up at the Gladstone Hotel. Not only is it a perfect place to soak up the local vibe, people watch and get a snack after your sojourn, but the hotel often is host to art exhibitions and festivals in their common spaces on each of the floors of the hotel, so keep an eye on their events calendar [https://www.gladstonehotel.com/events] for more information.  And even if they don’t have anything specific going on, the hallways always feature local artists, including the work of their artist in residence, Bruno Billio.

Afternoon

Sure it seems obvious, but the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario is one art destination not to be missed. Beyond the architectural wonder, the permanent collection is home to work by recently-departed Canadian painter Mary Pratt, as well as classic Group of Seven paintings and contemporary work from homegrown and international artists. Current exhibitions include “Anthropocene”, a look at “how we individually and collectively, are leaving a human signature on our world,” featuring the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.

From the gallery, take a walk south on McCaul Street to revel in the other architectural beauty on the same block, the Ontario College of Art and Design building imagined by architect Will Alsop. Called the Sharp Centre for Design, it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. And if you’re feeling up to it, take a walk to the TD Towers on King Street West in the Financial District to see one of the city’s best architectural examples of a Mies van der Rohe.

EAT. SLEEP

DAY TWO
Morning and Afternoon

Rent a car and head west an hour to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the day. Most well-known for its wine production, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Landmark Shops offer something beyond wine tasting. Located in the town’s heritage district you’ll find everything from food to fashion. Stop into Beau Chapeau for the perfect winter topper, Cheese Secrets for the area’s best selection of cheeses including the rich and buttery Niagara Gold, and Greaves Jam for some local sweetness. After spending time at the Landmark Shops, visit Niagara Image Gallery [http://niagaraimagegallery.com]. Representing artists as varied as Trisha Romance and Alex Colville, the gallery is one of the best in the region.

DAY THREE
Morning

What was once a sleepy residential neighbourhood has been transformed into a bustling commercial district rich with shops and galleries galore. Leslieville (in the city’s east end) is rife with style and there are no shortage of places to pick up a little something to take home with you. Check out Doll Factory by Damzels [https://www.damzels.com] for a fashionable frock, Project Gallery [https://projectgallery.ca/about/] for a dose of local independent art, and Machine Age Modern [http://www.machineagemodern.com] for a little mid-century accent for back home.

Afternoon

Every city has a “golden mile”, and Bloor Street West is Toronto’s. From Prada, to Louis Vuitton, to Gucci, to Canada’s homegrown luxury department store Holt Renfrew [http://www.holtrenfrew.com], two big city blocks have it all when it comes to luxe living. Start at Yonge Street and head west shopping yourself all the way to University Avenue/Avenue Road and the Royal Ontario Museum [https://www.rom.on.ca/en]. Bask in the architectural glory of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, designed by Daniel Libeskind, and take a step inside to check out “Spiders: Fear and Fascination”.

UNTIL NEXT TIME.

Winnipeg, MN

Winnipeg SkylineHead out to this Prairie capital for a short immersion in their always evolving art and design scene.

 

 

 

 

 

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DAY ONE
Morning

Referred to as simply The Exchange by locals, the Exchange District [https://exchangedistrict.org] is Winnipeg’s creative hub which makes it the ideal place to start your getaway. As a National Historic Site, the Exchange has the most impressive (both in condition and sheer volume) collection of heritage buildings in North America.

Stop into any number of the artist studios around Old Market Square, check out supremely hip and stylish stationary shop Tiny Feast [https://tinyfeast.com], or come back to King’s Head Pub late November for the Half Moon Market [https://halfmoonmarketwpg.com], an afternoon of artisan shopping.

Afternoon

A requisite visit to a major gallery seems obvious, but the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) [https://www.wag.ca]] has something no other gallery in Canada has — the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art. With over 13,000 pieces in the collection, much of it is currently in storage until the opening of the Inuit Art Centre [http://inuit.wag.ca] in 2020, the first of its kind.

In addition to their permanent collection, exhibitions this year include The 80s Image, a look at digital technology on traditional art practice featuring 50 Canadian artists, and Inuit artist Mary Yuusipik Singaqti’s solo show featuring textile wall hanging work and paintings.

Before you leave the ‘hood’, pop into the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) [https://plugin.org] for a look at their current contemporary art exhibition, or plan ahead and attend the Gala and Art Auction which raises money for the Plug In ICA programming.

EAT. SLEEP

DAY TWO
Morning

Considered a must-visit destination not only because of its exhibitions and permanent installations — the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is “the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights” — but because of the architecture. At the CMHR, the package is just as impactful and relevant as what’s on the inside.

In 2003 they opened up the architecture contract to tender and received 63 entries from 21 countries. American-architect Antoine Predock won the competition and nine years later revealed a multi-story, multi-material masterpiece.

Afternoon

Head back to The Exchange for a quick bite, and then connect with the Winnipeg Arts Council [http://winnipegarts.ca/GuidedPublicArtTours]. They provide public art tours year round — walking, cycling and a Public Art Bus Tour if walking or cycling isn’t your thing. If you’re feeling intrepid, download Explore: Winnipeg’s Public Art Guide [http://winnipegarts.ca/images/uploads/files/WAC_Public_Art_Guide_2017.pdf] that the Winnipeg Arts Council also produced, and head out on your own.

EAT. SLEEP

DAY THREE
Morning

Take a stroll across the Esplanade Riel (named in honour of Louis Riel, a founder of Manitoba and political leader of the Métis), which is a pedestrian bridge that connects downtown Winnipeg with Saint Boniface, the French part of the city. The bridge itself is part of the experience and is the only side-spar cable-stayed bridge in the world with its own restaurant. Once you’re over the bridge, visit the Saint-Boniface Cathedral [https://www.cathedralestboniface.ca] which began as a small chapel in 1818 and has evolved into the cathedral it is today.

Afternoon

A visit to La Maison des artistes visuels francophones [http://maisondesartistes.mb.ca (also in Saint-Boniface) offers an afternoon of immersion into the Franco-Canadian culture in Western Canada. The Centre focuses on the contemporary art work of Manitoban artists primarily, as well as works towards strengthening the French-Speaking community at large.

UNTIL NEXT TIME