Montréal Peculiarities

Montréal Peculiarities

Moving Day

July 1 st is Canada Day, our national holiday. It is also Moving Day for more than 100,000 Montreal households. Every available truck is rented and friends are recruited to move boxes and furniture in return for beer and pizza. Expect to see trucks double parked and sidewalks littered with abandoned junk, plus the occasional forlorn family pet.

The Moving Day tradition began as a humanitarian measure of the colonial government of New France, which forbade landlords from evicting their tenant farmers before the winter snows had melted. Later, May 1 was legally decreed "Moving Day" when renters changed their apartments. In 1973, the Quebec government decided that Moving Day should take place during summer so that children, especially those in primary school, could complete their full year at the same institution. Also, by moving the date to a public holiday, workers would not have to sacrifice a working day. The date was officially changed to July 1.

Traffic Cones

Montreal is famous for its summer festivals. The largest of them all is the annual festival of roadwork. Asphalt and concrete cannot be poured in sub-zero temperatures hence major construction is confined to the mildest months. So many streets are simultaneously torn up during summer that cones can stretch for miles and one traffic jam merges into the next. This is a powerful incentive to use public transport or kick back and relax on a terrace until late in the evening. Montreal is proud to possess more traffic cones than any other city in the known universe.

Police Officers in Clown Pants

Visitors to Montreal scratch their heads at the sight of police officers decked out in brightly colored camouflage pants and red ball caps as they make traffic stops or offer directions. For Montreal natives, the pants protest has become such a regular fixture that they barely notice when the officer handing out a ticket looks like a Rambo wannabe from the waist down.

Unionized police officers have no right to strike, so they have decided to be creative in making their unhappiness known. The pressure tactic of choice is outrageous pants. Most municipalities targeted by the union protest over proposed reforms to municipal pension plans have chosen to look the other way rather than try to enforce the police dress code spelled out in provincial law. Now we know who really wears the pants.