The city is both at its best and its worst during the season
Oh thank god, it’s almost summer. Okay, there are still some pockets of snow outside, and we’re all still stuffed into our winter coats, but we’re mere weeks away from precious sunshine. And is there anywhere better to spend a summer than Montreal?
What’s better than a warm day walking along the water in the Old Port, ice cream in hand? Or lounging on the beach in Parc Jean-Drapeau? Maybe you’ll be feeling the wind rush through your hair at La Ronde, or jumping to the rhythm of an outdoor concert? Whether you’re yukking it up at Just for Laughs, getting your anime fix at Otakuthon, or watching the weekly fireworks competition… it’s a real challenge not to enjoy yourself during a Montreal summer.
But not impossible: I have an unlucky love/hate relationship with our city’s favourite season.
Here, summer is fickle: last year, she gave us the cold shoulder. May to September was marked by cloudy skies and hoodies—far from the blue summer skies I was dreaming of. Other years, she enters like a hurricane, blanketing us with sweltering heat all season long. I have not forgotten the many unfortunate heatwaves spent lying on the tiled floor of my basement.
Weather aside, it seems like the city both comes alive and comes to a standstill in the summer: god forbid you try to drive anywhere. Orange construction signs clog up every highway and major thoroughfare. This year, not only are we coping with what’s left of the Super Hospital’s construction near Decarie Blvd. and St. Jacques St., we’ll also be wrestling with the overhaul of the Turcot interchange and closures on Guy, Stanley and Peel St. I might as well relinquish my license and delete my Uber app until the weather turns cold again.
The construction wouldn’t be such a huge problem if public transportation didn’t turn into a heat box of death.
The metro is an outer circle of Hell, people never open the windows in buses, and the events that make summer great also lead to random and unpredictable rushes. On top of being packed in like a sardine, one gets the honour of being packed with rowdy and usually drunk festival-goers who lack any concept of personal space. If you’re particularly unlucky, you’ll even meet the one who—for some reason—felt the need to bring their cup of beer on with them.
Of course, some will complain about tourists. I personally don’t find them to be a horrible bother during the summer—generally, most people visiting are friendly and un-obnoxious—but if that grinds your gears, well, there’s another thing to add to the list. I find Montreal smokers to be a thousand times worse: I suppose it’s because the warm weather has returned, but it feels like you can’t pass by an office building without braving the thick smell of tobacco (or other substances). Vapers have only exacerbated this pet peeve of mine.
But like I said, it’s a love/hate relationship. Yes, there are parts of Montreal summers that make me want to tear my hair out. But I wouldn’t stick around if I didn’t absolutely adore it: the warm evenings spent on the terrasse, the sound of festivals in my ear, the beating of TamTam drums. Montreal is a city worth struggling for—even if summer itself is the struggle.