An excerpt from

Press 1 and Pray: Letters From Voice Jail
by Josh Freed

. . . here is a survival guide for the new Toronto refugee, exiled to Montreal.


Forget health food, juice bars and a diet for a small waistline; say hello to smoked meat, greasy patates frites and early triple-bypass surgery. When you go to a night club, Montreal bartenders expect you to order liquor -- not a half-caf, decaf, low-cal latte.

And no, you can't order your poutine with low-fat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and a side order of arugula.

Montreal is the official smoking section of Canada. Quebecers smoke in bars, restaurants, schools, churches, daycare centres, and hospital emergency wards. While smoking is not yet mandatory, the non-smoking section of bars and restaurants is usually somewhere in the smoking section. In fact, you will be inhaling so much second-hand smoke, you might as well start smoking.


In most Canadian cities you can turn right on red lights. In Montreal you can turn right on reds, or left on reds, or just go straight through a red. Stop signs are also optional, while pedestrian crossings are reserved for cars, and bus lanes are used by motorcycle gangs and police chases.

Parking is easy as long as you can understand signs that say:

Stationnement reservé détenteurs de permis de residents, secteur 33.
9h-15h; 18h-9h, sauf les fin de semaines. Livraison seulement
8h30-11h30, 1 mars-1 dec

I don't.