21 things you have to explain to out-of-towners about Montreal

You live in Montreal, so it’s inevitable that everybody and their under-aged sister is going to want to crash your apartment-sized-and-shaped palace at some point. And it's also inevitable that you're going to have to explain a few things about this great city to them too -- to save you a little time, here’s your cheat sheet.

1. Montreal revolves around its own compass
It’s not your compass, it’s ours. North is technically “northwest” in most areas, and in some places, “north” is straight-up west. 

2. Subway is a fast-food franchise, not a mode of transportation
Around these parts, we refer to the underground train as the “metro”, and tend to refer to each line by color: Green, Orange, Blue, and Yellow.

3. No one understands the messages on the metro PA system
Not even French people. In fact, it almost seems deliberate. 

4. Most parties don’t really get started until like, 11pm
Even if they state otherwise. In fact, especially then.

Hot dog
Katherine Sehl

5. Stuff comes "all dressed"
All dressed is to Montreal what “the works” is to the rest of North America. On a hot dog it means all the condiments plus some ‘slaw. On a pizza it tends to mean pepperoni, mushroom, and green peppers. 

6. No, that is not the recent landing spot of an asteroid
Around here, we call those gaping vacuous voids “potholes”.

7. July 1st might be Canada Day for, well, Canada...
... but in Montreal it’s known as “Moving Day”. Almost all lease contracts end July 1st, which means moving trucks, curbed furniture, and alley pillaging galore. Yes, yes, we’re all aware of the separatist-tinged irony.

8. We only go to Old Montreal when we’re with out-of-towners
Or occasionally to eat there. But no, we don’t roam the cobblestoned streets, nor do we regularly ride in horse-drawn carriages.

Katherine Sehl

9. Terrasse is the French word used in Montreal to refer to patios
It’s pronounced: “teh-rass” with a raunchy roll over that 'r'. 

10. You can’t turn right at a red light in Montreal

11. You can, legally, drink outside!
Um, we think? We couldn’t find the bylaw the says you can, but we also couldn’t find the bylaw that says you can’t. Word on the street is that as long as you’ve got food with you, you’re in the clear. But be careful, the po-po does hand out hefty “drunk in public” tickets.

12. Montreal has the second-highest number of restaurants per capita in North America
After NYC, naturally.

Katherine Sehl

13. There’s a law that keeps our skyscrapers from actually being skyscrapers
No building is allowed to be taller than the cross on top of Mount Royal.

14. Most Montrealers are bilingual to some degree
Which is kind of awesome right? The Parti Quebecois says: NON.

15. The greeting bonjour/hi is a "choose your own adventure" option
Respond with “bonjour” to proceed in French, “hi” for English.

16. Beer is sold in corner stores called “deps
And you can get almost anything there, including fresh sushi, craft beer, and VHS tapes. You can get “dep” wine (cheap wine) there too, but hurry, they stop selling booze at 11pm.

Mount Royal
Katherine Sehl

17. Don’t tell us our mountain is technically a hill
Deep down, we all know Mount Royal is not a mountain, but why would you tell us that? Let us have our mountain dammit.

18. Every Summer Sunday, every free-living Montrealer with a Tam-Tam drum goes to the mountain
“Tam-Tams” are a Summer Sunday tradition that brings drummers, hippies, picnickers, food trucks, LARPers, and more to the side of the mountain for a big outdoor party.

19. 5 à 7 = happy hour
Two happy hours, that is. And let’s be honest, this post-work tradition usually lasts longer than that.

20. Our bars close at 3am every night
Technically... but if the current mayor has his way, that’ll be bumped up to 6am. Oh yeah, and the legal drinking age is 18.

21. The underground city sounds wizardly and all Lord-of-the-Rings fantastical, but, it actually kind of sucks
That unfailing sparkle in every tourist’s eye when they mention the underground city dies pretty hard when they realize that it’s essentially a large underground mall complex.