15 things to do this March

Didn’t get to do all the winter activities you wanted? Well you will surely find something to do this March

1. Montreal en Lumière                                       

What: Montreal en Lumière offers tons of activities. Anything from free shows, art tutorials, a skating rink and even a Ferris wheel. There is something to do for everyone. 

When:  February 16 – March 5 

Where: Quartier des Spectacles 

2. Garden of Oddness   

What: The learning doesn’t stop just because you’re on break. Montreal’s Botanical Garden has set up a space where you can learn about carnivorous plants.                                       

When: February 22 – April 30                                                   

Where: Montreal Botanical Gardens

3. Apik

What: Picture this: hitting the slopes, but close to home. Apik brings winter activities, such as a snowboarding circuit and ski completions, to the heart of Montreal.  

When: February 24 – March 5          

Where: Quartier Latin                      

4. Festival Casteliers                                               

What: A festival that looks at and displays puppeteering from all around the world. You can attend shows and tutorials, as well as take a look behind the scenes.       

When: March 1 – March 5                                                                       

Where: Théâtre Outremont, International House of Puppetry (MIAM)

5. Happening Gourmand                                  

What: It’s the 15th edition of this Montreal Food festival. Happening Gourmand puts some of the Old Port’s best restaurants on display with prices that are affordable.                                

When: March 2 – April 2                                                         

Where: Visit their website for participating restaurants across the Old Port

6. Festival Soleil d’hiver Montréal                                             

What:  Looking to escape the winter cold without going far? The Soleil d’hiver festival brings a bit of those warm tropical destinations to Montreal. You can enjoy food, cocktails, music and more.                                                                                

When: March 3 – March 5                                                             

Where: Marché Bonsecours  

7. Study Abroad Fair                      

What: Meet with university graduate schools and other groups. They can answer your questions and help you plan a semester abroad.                         

When: March 4 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.                                                 

Where: Palais des congrès 

8. Cabaret de Cirque                                     

What: A show filled with acrobats and stunts themed around the “multiple facets of this city.”                                                                   

When: March 9 – March 25                                                               

Where: Centre St Jax 

9. Bikini Bottom Rave           

What: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to party in Bikini Bottom? Check out this Spongebob SquarePants themed rave to find out.                                                                      When: March 10                                                                  

Where: Corona Theatre 

10. ZEM Social                           

What: Have you ever heard of Brazilian Zouk? Head on down to Montreal’s ZEM Social to learn, practice and dance the Zouk way.           

When: March 18 from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.                                                        

Where: Station Clark – Danse & Fitness

11. Art Souterrain                                              

What: A free interactive art festival that features different installations placed along a route made in Montreal’s underground city.                                                                   

When: March 18 – April 9                                            

Where: Montreal’s underground network  

12. Saint Patrick’s Day Parade                                     

What: Show off your Irish Jig at the 198th Montreal Saint Patrick’s Day parade. 

When: March 19 at 12 p.m.                                                      

Where: Downtown Montreal (Parade route to be confirmed) 

13. Sexposition                             

What: A “taboo-free” weekend featuring erotic art. In the evening, the venue takes up a nightclub scene with DJs and performances.                                                                                     When: March 25 – March 26                                                                 

Where: Bain Mathieu

14. Montréal Joue                                                  

What: Various Montreal libraries will be hosting themed game nights, including everything from trivia to virtual reality.                                                                    

When: Beginning February 26 – May 28                                              

Where: Various libraries across Montreal. There will also be some virtual events. 

15. Sugar Shack 

What: The sweet smell of syrup is among us. Yes, Quebec’s maple syrup season has started. Head on over to Cap-Saint-Jacques’ sugar shack for a sugary treat. 

When: Every weekend in March and the week of March break 

Where: Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques


A look inside Montreal’s Lunar New Year Market

Did you know that the Chinese pictographic for the rabbit is 兔?

Sunday, January 22, 2023 marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year which highlights the year of the Rabbit.

In Chinese culture, people strongly believe that it is destined to influence the year and the people born in it. For reference, people born in the years 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951 and 1939 are associated with the Rabbit zodiac. Last year was the year of the Tiger. The rabbit is the fourth Chinese zodiac animal out of twelve.

You might be curious about what exactly the rabbit symbolizes in Chinese culture. Well, it embodies energy with a focus on relaxation, quietness and contemplation.

In the Gay Village, in the downtown Montreal area, Montrealers rang in the new year with a variety of activities. One of the activities was a free-to-attend, one-day-only holiday market organized by the Montreal Hong Kong Cultural Learning Society.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Lunar New Year in Asia falls after the second new moon which occurs after the winter solstice. That means the Lunar New Year can happen anytime between January 21 and February 20.

Upon entering the market space, visitors saw a decorative cherry blossom tree and a table nearby. The table had a bunch of markers and pens on it for visitors to write their wishes for the upcoming new year on cards with the purchase of an item at the market.

Wishing tree where guests could leave their wishes for the new Lunar New Year. DALIA NARDOLILLO/ The Concordian

Various sweet smells wafted throughout the market. The vendors were selling food that was being freshly made to order on-site. Some of those sweets included bubble waffles, Japanese and Tawainese wheel cakes, and much more.

The market not only offered lots of variety in terms of things to buy, but it also offered interactive booths where guests could try their hand at Chinese calligraphy. 

I was enticed to try my hand at Chinese calligraphy and learned that you begin with the horizontal strokes first, and then do the downstrokes. I gave it a couple of tries at writing down some Chinese pictograms until my hands got stained with ink.

The other interactive booth included a dice game with a Fish-Prawn-Crab.

All the vendors present at the market were bursting with energy and the excitement for the year of the Rabbit could be felt throughout the room.

If you celebrate the Lunar New Year, we wish you peace, health and prosperity for this new year!


Bug-eating: a whole gastronomical experience

The Montreal Insectarium recently introduced entomophagy

With the climate rapidly changing, water is becoming less and less accessible. As the need to change the way we eat becomes more and more apparent, food industries are shifting, presenting new forms of food. 

Chef-consultant Daniel Vézina, commissioned by Espace pour la vie, developed a series of edible insect snacks. Between Nov. 2 – 5 these snacks were served at a kiosk at Le Central. 

“Insects have a lot of vitamins, and proteins, it’s very relevant to make people discover them,” said Elena Zumaran Vasquez, operations coordinator for Les Amis de insectarium. 

Zumaran Vasquez explained that her organization specifically works for insect consumption, a practice known as entomophagy. It’s owing to this collaboration with David Vézina that she now believes more strongly that people are more willing to eat insects: “People don’t necessarily see them, they are presented in a different form,  where they are integrated into the food.”. 

Though insect-eating is not part of Canadian culture, it is a common snack in some countries like Thailand and South Africa. In Thailand, for instance, is it typical to eat fried grasshoppers, crickets, and even worms. 

The tasting at Le Central offered four sample foods. There were green hard candies, made from ant sugar and balsam fir. The flavour of the ant sugar was not very strong and did not taste any different from the candies we are used to. 

For salty snacks, there were seaweed chips creamed with a tomato tapenade, mixed with mealworm and seaweed dulse. Apart from being extremely salty, they were good. 

The second salty snack was the one that people most feared eating. It was caramelized lime almonds with whole grasshoppers. This was the only tasting with a whole insect in it; and despite their sour lime taste, they tasted good. Nevertheless, I’m not sure if I would eat them like I would eat a bag of chips. 

Zumaran Vasquez noted that the reactions to the tastings were quite diverse. 

“There’s a lot of positive feedback and a lot of interest. At first people are reluctant, but most of them end up trying [it].” 

The insects were so processed with the other ingredients that it was barely noticeable that one was eating insects, except for the almond snack, where the grasshopper was in its complete form. 

Despite the original idea behind the snacks being the high nutritional value of insects, these bites were so mixed in sugar and salt that it begs the question, would people even eat these if they were not processed with so many unhealthy ingredients? 

A suitable analogy would be that of vegan food industries sometimes trying hard to imitate a taste, only to end up making an extremely unhealthy product. Is the avenue of making foods universal for singular palates through imitation necessarily good, or should the food industry shift entirely to proposing foods completely different from what we know? 

The crowd of people lined around the kiosk all seemed to enjoy the snacks. Some were more reluctant at first, especially with regards to the almond and grasshopper snack, but after tasting them, many people were pleasantly surprised. 

It was only fifteen minutes subsequent to the tasting that my palate tasted strongly of insects. The unfamiliar lingering taste of grasshoppers stayed on my tongue longer than I would’ve liked. 

It is indisputable that insects offer a great nutritional value and fill you up. Perhaps our Canadian bodies merely need to adapt to changing gastronomies and the possibility of insect consumption. 

Photographs by Catherine Reynolds/THE CONCORDIAN

Owning your dream amid a pandemic: the hard way up to a functional rock climbing gym

A look at new bouldering gym/cafe Café Bloc on Saint-Laurent Boulevard

The story of Café Bloc begins with a dream about comradery, a sense of community and a tasteful amount of the main ingredient: a passion for rock climbing. After two years in the making, what started simply as an ambitious concept has recently turned into a reality for young entrepreneur Sébastien Aubé. Alongside his now-business partner Jean-François Gravel, the duo managed to pull off a fully functional bouldering gym in the heart of downtown Montreal at a time that does not respect any uncalculated boldness in developing new business models. Some may call it a shot in the dark but for Aubé the coronavirus comes as “an outside event that we have no control of. The only thing we can change about it is the way we perceive it.”

Sébastien Aubé, co-owner of Café Bloc

Just like the sport itself requires from its enthusiasts, you need to overcome obstacles to make your way to the top. As Aubé puts it, “A key element to motivation is to keep yourself active towards your goals even when you don’t feel like it.” The current situation definitely affects the business negatively but it does not put an end to the adventure.

“It is challenging,” agrees Aubé, “but not to the extent where I am going to sit in the corner and give up.” Hardships were what defined the journey of the place as it took two long years for the project to come into existence.

After a rock climbing trip in June 2018, the exciting idea to create an environment where people can simultaneously sweat it all out on the climbing wall and relax with a cup of coffee and friendly company began to grow.

At last, the moment they all had been waiting for was here. On Feb. 9, 2020, Café Bloc welcomed its first rock climbing customers and for six weeks, the dream of a community united under a mutual passion carried on. Working at full capacity, the place easily became a hotspot for those eager to solve “problems” (that is how climbing routes are referred to in a bouldering gym). No extra equipment is needed — just you and your climbing shoes. To ensure the safety of all participants, the gym follows basic security standards. There are big bouncy mats under the boulders that will catch anyone’s fall, regardless of their position on the wall.

According to Aubé, there are different challenges and they are all rated with a level of difficulty. For example, “six moves, using only blue holes, from the ground to the top can be a warm-up for someone more experienced or a good beginner problem to start with.” For better engagement and constant physical stimulus, the gym is designed to change the style of the walls regularly, thus providing new problems almost every week.

“We were open for six weeks and then we had to close on March 15 like everybody else,” Aubé vividly remembers. Despite the successful launch, COVID-19 did not spare the bouldering gym and jeopardized all the effort put into the place. However, Café Bloc learns to adapt to the changes as they come.

“We are running at a 25 per cent capacity,” says Aubé, “and we lack our main demographic of the people who work in the downtown offices and would normally swing by for a session after-hours.”

Their routine now consists of pressure washing the climbing holes every week, which adds to the accumulated business losses. Aubé’s team has also put hand sanitizers everywhere to accommodate the health regulations and the climbers’ needs. However, it’s up to everyone to have the responsibility of adhering to disinfecting before and after an exercise.

“It’s all about the energy everyone brings into the place,” says Aubé.

Indeed, prior to the coronavirus restrictions, the gym was running smoothly. According to Aubé, before the pandemic, they would have “people come in and overstay their welcome beyond the staff’s shifts, simply soaking in the atmosphere.” Now, Aubé wishes for nothing more than to have the gym run normally. Yet, the co-owner reflects on the current social implication as a mental challenge. Apart from technique, rock climbing represents an inner battle of overcoming your own limitations and doubts.

“Similar to rock climbing, this is just another problem we need to face and persevere, so that we can come out of it stronger and better.”


Photos by Yordan Ivanov and Kit Mergaert


Anti-capitalist activists march in rainy May Day protest

One person arrested amid multiple peaceful protests in Montreal

Activists marched from the streets of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve to downtown Montreal denouncing capitalism in the annual May Day protest on Monday, May 1.

May Day—also known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day in certain countries—honours the struggles and working conditions of the working class, promotes anti-capitalism and is supported by various anarchist, socialist and communist groups worldwide.

Activist fills the air with a green smog ahead of the crowd as they march along Ontario street. Photo by Savanna Craig.

One group of about 50 anti-capitalist supporters initially gathered outside Frontenac metro station in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district around 5:30 p.m., while a small band played a melody with trumpets, flutes and a drum.

This particular march was organized by the Syndicat industriel des travailleurs et travailleuses de Montréal-Industrial Workers of the World (SITT-IWW), a working-class union with the mission of improving working conditions and creating worker-driven workplaces, communities and industries, according to the SITT-IWW website.

A large cloud of red smoke from a smoke bomb filled the air as the protesters at Frontenac metro were joined by another march that had originated elsewhere. The combined crowd of approximately 150 people marched along Ontario Street, cheering and chanting.

Officers marched along each side of the manifestation. Photo by Savanna Craig.

“Tout le monde déteste la police,” marchers cried out, which translates to “everyone hates the police.” As participants howled in unison, a line of police officers marched on either side of the protest, and cops on bicycles rode ahead and followed behind the crowd.

Protesters continued to set off smoke bombs throughout the march, filing the air with yellow, red, blue and green smoke. In addition to the haze of smoke that hovered above the crowd, protesters were soaked by alternating light and heavy rainfall.

Approaching the downtown core, protesters continued to chant against capitalist agendas as they marched through lanes of traffic along René Lévesque Boulevard. “Police de Montréal: milice du capital,” they shouted—‘Montreal police: capital militia’ in English.

All three protests eventually converged in Phillips Square. Photo by Savanna Craig.

As participants headed towards Phillips Square, they were greeted by another May Day march that had begun mobilizing in the square.

Just before the two groups joined forces, one protester was arrested for the alleged armed assault of a Montreal police officer, according to the SPVM’s Twitter feed. The SPVM also reported that no one was injured during the march.

SPVM Officers guard SPVM station 20 on Ste Catherine street. Photo by Savanna Craig.

As the march continued along Ste. Catherine Street, a police bus and a row SPVM officers stood guard in front of the SPVM’s Station 20 near Concordia University. To avoid approaching the station, protesters turned down Bishop Street, heading back towards René Lévesque. A protester fired a flare into the air, and one participant used their phone’s speaker to play N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police.”

The rain began to pour more heavily and the streets filled with large puddles as the crowd of now almost 300 people headed towards the Plateau.

The beat of a drum rumbled through the crowd as the march neared UQAM. When the march drew to a close around 9 p.m. on the corner of Kimberley and Ste. Catherine Street, the crowd erupted into cheers before many headed into the Place-des-Arts metro station.

The march concluded at Place-des-Arts station. Photo by Savanna Craig.

SPVM officers followed the protesters into the metro, and the drumming and cheering continued as people waited on the platforms. It wasn’t until the doors closed and the metro cars pulled away from the station that the march officially ended and silence fell at Place-des-Arts station.

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