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Family friendly art studios in Montreal – Future Jackson Pollock?

Top Art Studios Montreal

It looks like it’s going to be another rainy weekend in Montreal. Yet another.

To make the most of the lousy weather, I’ve compiled a list of fun indoor art activities. Why not cultivate your child’s inner artist by visiting one of the following child-friendly art studios in Montreal:

4 Cats Art Studios

This is a chain (franchise) of studios around Montreal (and North America) and I’ve heard great things about their kid programs. They have tax deductible classes for children aged 2-10+. Adult participation is welcomed (sometimes mandatory depending on the age) and they have cool after-school programs, too. My son is still too young for our family to test this out but I welcome comments from other families!

Locations: 5026 Parc Plateau/Outremont, Montreal, QC H2V 4E8, (514) 508-3889

And 2748 Blvd. St-Charles, Kirkland, QC H9H 3B6, (514) 505-3727

Website: http://www.4cats.com/

 Café Ceramic

Another cool little franchise in Montreal is the Café Ceramic. I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept: paint a pre-formed pottery piece while you enjoy some coffee/food. I always liked the concept and I plan on introducing my son as soon as the paint is more inviting on the ceramic than on his face! I’ve been to some of these ceramic cafes in different parts of North America and I’ve really enjoyed the time spent relaxing while painting and chatting with friends. If your kids are old enough to understand the concept, I highly recommend these chains!

Locations: 4338, St-Denis, Montréal (Qc) H2J 2K8, 514 848-1119

565, Boulevard Saint-Martin Ouest (Qc) H7M 1Y8, 450 669-9399

3240, boul. Taschereau (Qc) J4V 2H3, 450 443-8582

Website: http://www.leccs.com/

Any other recommendations for great child/family-friendly art studios in Montreal area? Let me know!

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Scotia Bank Marathon – Volunteer/Donate for Charity!

Scotia Bank Marathon - Volunteer/Donate for Charity!

Any avid runners? Here’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors while cheering on runners for a great cause! Volunteers are always needed and it’s a great way to get your kids involved. Hopefully the weather cooperates (it’s supposed to be mild). Sponsored by Scotia Bank, the marathon will be held on April 28th, 2013 starting at 8:30am at Jean-Drapeau Park. Last year, they raised $565,048.11! Let’s hope they can beat that amount this year.
Official website: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/monthalf_en/index.htm

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Head à Tête – April 12-21 Centaur Theatre in Montreal

Directed by Alain Goulem, this futuristic play is suitable for audiences aged 4 and up. It has been showing since April 12 but it’s ending this weekend with April 21st being its final day. The production has received great reviews and I’ve heard that it really appeals to all age groups. The subject of language (French and English) is an apt one and the play’s simple but important message (mutual communication and understanding) is subtly suggestive.

Location: Centaur Theatre ~ 453 St Francois-Xavier

Website: http://geordie.ca/head-a-tete/

Montreal Gazette review: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/theatre/Theatre+review+Head+T%C3%AAte+fresh+ever/8241191/story.html

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Morgan Arboretum – Earth Day Weekend April 21, 2013

Morgan Arboretum - Earth Day Weekend April 21, 2013

In celebration of Earth Day (April 22, 2013) and in collaboration with Montreal Families, Morgan Arboretum is offering free guided tours through their 245 hectare wildlife reserve on April 21, 2013 from 9am to 4pm.
Make sure to mention the following link: http://www.montrealfamilies.ca/Montreal-Families/April-2013/Fun-ways-to-protect-the-planet/
Morgan Arboretum website: http://www.morganarboretum.org/fma/
Address: 150 ch. des Pins, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Qc

 

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Omega Park – The Bear Necessities (From Your Car!)

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My personal favorite at Omega Park: the stinky snorting wild boars!

Last year around this time, my family had the great opportunity to visit Omega Park. My son wasn’t able to verbally express his excitement but his face clearly showed his joy. I highly recommend Omega Park for families looking for a weekend day trip only 1.5 hours outside of Montreal.

Omega Park is situated in the gorgeous region/municipality of Montebello. Known for the largest log structure ever built, Le Chateau Montebello is stunning and deserving of its own blog post. Beautiful through all the seasons, my personal favorites are spring and fall; the colors of the new and/or dying foliage is spectacular. The air is crisp in the fall and moist and alive in the spring–definitely worth at least a drive through the area!

Omega is a wildlife park that is unique amongst the “safari park” genre in that its animals are all native to the Canadian forests. The park is open year-round and animals can be seen roaming through 1,800 acres of their natural habitat. Filled with trees, rivers, lakes, swamps and rolling hills, the area itself is a fun drive and it’s nice to see the animals in their (simulated) native environment.

I would recommend making this a full-day adventure. The area around Omega Park has tons of places to explore and the park itself can take anywhere from 3-4 hours (longer if all the animals approach the car windows). Also, make sure you bring bags of carrots, apples, celery and other hard veggies. Trust me, the animals will love you and you’ll get plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure to leave the dog at home; they have a strict no pets policy (for good reason!).

3 warnings before your trip: 1. If you are worried that your car might get damaged–it should be fine but you never know–don’t bring your spotless car. Our family van is, well, a family van, so we were never worried about any damage and luckily everything was fine. The animals know their boundaries and they are all slow and meandering–these are wild animals that are very used to human contact. 2. If the thought of a large drooling beast sticking its head into your driver/passenger window scares you–don’t open the window. Start out small: try feeding the deer first. They are…let’s say…a little less daunting than a buffalo head the size of your child. 3. Allergies! If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, I would recommend taking a preventative anti-histamine.

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Feeding the animals at Omega Park

Most animals, with the exception of the bears and wolves, are free-roaming. They are all used to cars and humans and they know the drill: wave the carrot out the window and they will approach. Please make sure to supervise your children while they feed the animals. I know the animals don’t mean to bite but sometimes a tiny hand holding a carrot can’t be seen.

Omega Park also has a bird of prey section that performs live shows in the summer. If you walk along the designated foot-paths, you will reach the mini-farm area. Your kids can pet the goats, sheep, pigs, etc and they offer pony/horse rides for a fee.

A friendly goat at Omega Park's mini farm

A friendly goat at Omega Park’s mini farm

Omega offers two radio stations (English and French) that provide information on the animals in the park. They also have a picnic area or a fast food cafeteria–brown bag it for a healthier (and cheaper) lunch. Make sure to check the weather forecast; even though you are in your car on a rainy day, the animals might not be as inclined to come out of the forested areas. Enjoy!

Location: Highway 323 North, Montebello, Québec JOV 1LO

Website: http://www.parc-omega.com/en/

Coupons! http://www.parc-omega.com/coupon1-en.cfm

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Montreal’s Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show – April 19, 20, 21 (2013)

Montreal's Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show - April 19, 20, 21 (2013)

Many children go through a rock collection stage. For me, it came after the dinosaur obsession; maybe one led to the other. If you have a fan of rocks (and gems), minerals or fossils in your family, I highly recommend this annual show in Montreal (this will be their 28th season). Not only are the exhibitions pure eye-candy but the hobbyists clearly love their work and will eagerly explain and guide you through their collections. Most pieces are available for purchase as is the gorgeous jewelry and stunning artwork.
April 19, 20, 21 (2013)
Location: Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. 300 rue Viau (metro Viau). Montreal, Quebec H1V 3J3
**Parking is $12. I would try to find parking around the center rather than in its designated parking lot**

Website: http://www.salonminerauxmtl.com/index.html

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Cabane à Sucre Constantin — Sugaring Off in Quebec

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La Cabane à sucre Constantin

I’m going to let you in on a not-so-well-kept secret. The best part of spring–maybe even more than its sign of winter’s end–is the maple syrup! Every year I look forward to the production of “liquid gold” at the local sugar shack or cabane à sucre. My family is a little maple syrup crazy–we pour (ahem, drizzle) it on the traditional pancakes and waffles but we also use it as an alternative to sugar in almost everything possible. Have you ever tried maple syrup-sweetened coffee? Mmmm. Luckily Quebec is the largest producer in the world!

This post should have appeared weeks ago but unfortunately we’ve had shoddy weekend weather.  Quebec has countless sugar shacks around Montreal that participate in the annual sugaring off festivities; we decided to visit Cabane à Sucre Constantin this year. I encourage you to visit soon as they are closing April 28th, 2013. The season usually runs from February to April.

Located only 25 minutes from Montreal, Cabane à Sucre Constantin is in the lively town of St-Eustache. We arrived for the set breakfast at 10am and we were quickly seated and served. The reception/dining hall can accommodate a few hundred people so unless you are 30+ people, reservations are not necessary. It’s a very casual environment and you are seated at long tables beside other families in an open and boisterous room. The decor is dated but it adds to the appeal–it’s a farmhouse that serves traditional sugaring off cuisine!

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Breakfast at La Cabane à sucre Constantin

The food is brought to you but it’s considered all-you-can-eat. You won’t need more than one serving of each course as the food is extremely filling. They start you off with a delicious pea soup–warm and bursting with flavor–and you are then served the main course of eggs, potatoes, ham and beans. I wasn’t a huge fan of the eggs or potatoes (both were tasteless) but the ham and beans were very good. The dessert was a sugar-rush of maple syrup deliciousness!  I think my favorite was the “pouding chômeur” (roughly translated to a pudding for the unemployed or poor man’s pudding); it’s a bread-pudding (which acts like a sponge) completely drenched in maple syrup. They also offer pancakes, soft ice cream and sugar pie. I swear the whole group of people left the dining area high on a sugar buzz.

Included in your meal price, you also have access to a small doll museum, a puppet theater and one “tire sur la neige” maple taffy on a stick. We were too full for the maple taffy so we decided to wander around the grounds. For only $2 per person, you can visit a small but completely packed “zoo” full of exotic–or not–farm animals. My son was in heaven.

All the animals looked really healthy and all of them were clean. My only complaint would be that they stuffed so many animals into such a small area. The animals included parrots, reptiles, many types of birds and rodents and your typical barnyard animals like goats, pigs, sheep, ponies and even llamas. The owners allowed a few of the baby goats to roam freely through the area and my son was overjoyed when he fed them from his hand. Many of the animals seemed to be new mothers so we were lucky to see many babies.

Part of the price of admission included a one-man puppet show. It was very interactive and most of the play was song-based which encouraged audience participation. My son couldn’t keep his eyes off the show. At about 20 minutes, it was the perfect length for short attention spans.

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Puppet show at La Cabane à sucre Constantin

The doll museum was neat. My husband is generally creeped out by dolls–especially old dolls with cracked faces and eyeballs rolling back in their heads–but it was still interesting to see dolls from 3-4 generations ago. Dolls, like all cultural artifacts, reflect the time in which they were made so it was fascinating to see how the dolls evolved through a century filled with war, depression, racism and progress (among so many other factors!).

At the end of our stay, we enjoyed the famous “tire” of maple taffy on snow and the inflated kid’s amusement area. They also offer horse-drawn carriage rides for $3/person, mini 4×4 rides for kids ($4) and a free visit of the grounds by foot.

Overall, I highly recommend Cabane à Sucre Constantin! Even if some of the food was a little bland, there was plenty of great-tasting alternatives. The atmosphere was very family friendly and the staff went out of their way to ensure a fun and safe visit for all.

Location: 1054 Arthur-Sauve Blvd. (Route 148), St-Eustache, Qc, J7R 4K3

Website: http://constantin.ca/

Prices vary according to season and day/time. Check their website for prices: http://constantin.ca/cabane-a-sucre/tarifs-heures-douverture