This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.
You will often hear many Vancouverites say “the west coast is the best coast”, painting a picture as if Vancouver were the Canadian city.
While it’s certainly the first — well, the only metropolis that comes to mind when you think of Canada’s west coast, does it really live up to all the hype? Nope! *record scratch* Say what now? Mhm, you read that right.
I debunk this long held idea that Vancouver is the pinnacle of Canadian cities when it simply isn’t. And there’s really only one reason why… Montreal.
As someone who has taken advantage of much of what Vancouver has to offer after living and working there for a few years, it still doesn’t match the wonders of Montreal, and I’ll explain why.
Let’s discuss the story
It’s no surprise that Montreal has been around much longer than Vancouver.
Although I’m not a history buff, I do know that a city’s past lays the foundation for its present, and part of Montreal’s history is what totally sets it apart from any other city in Canada.
You walk through the Old Port of Montreal and you will be transported hundreds of years back, with the impression of having entered a small part of France.
You walk into Vancouver’s Gastown and it’s like you’ve walked into Vancouver’s Gastown with some twinkling lights and overpriced restaurants and bars. “But what about the steam clock? Uh-huh. What about?
Now, I’m not saying that Montreal’s French touch is all it takes to make it superior to Vancouver, but “Bonjour/Hi” just hits differently.
Montreal Culture FTW
I have never felt or seen any culture in Vancouver. Now, before you take your pitchforks and torches, let me explain.
The town is beautiful, framed by mountains and ocean, and home to very friendly people, but it lacks charm and substance.
When I think of Van City’s culture, I think of its status as the corporate capital of Lululemon and Patagonia. When I think of Montreal, I think of a cultural capital. It’s literally the top result when you google “the cultural capital of Canada”.
Sure, living here has allowed me to fully appreciate all that Montreal has to offer, but at least Montreal has something substantial to offer with its distinct culture – the most I got from my experience in Vancouver m reminded me of how out of shape I am and how broke I’d be if I lived there permanently.
Are we talking about food?
Sushi and vegan options. That’s all I would give Vancouver over Montreal. As with everything else, Montreal is and always will be the answer.
Montreal not only has one of the highest number of restaurants per capita, but they are also very good. We have beloved local restaurants that have been visited by world leaders and admired by world-class chefs.
Our city is also known for dishes that no other province really has. Sure, Vancouver has great sushi, but when it comes to authentic dishes that have become so iconic they’re ingrained in our very culture, Montreal is the only city that has done this.
What could I be referring to? Putin of course! Fries, cheese curds and sauce. Chefs around the world have tried to capture the magical combination of these three simple ingredients, but the dish just doesn’t taste the same outside of the province of Quebec.
We also have bagels and smoked meat under lock and key. Not to mention the panoply of other homemade Quebec dishes, such as tourtières, cretons and chômeur pudding.
Which dish from Vancouver compares to those from Montreal? Japadog? Cactus Club truffle fries? Go now.
What about the entertainment scene?
Oof, where to start with this one. Let’s eliminate nightlife.
When it comes to Montreal nightlife versus Vancouver, there is no contest. Montreal can easily do laps around Van City nightlife, and anyone who disputes that didn’t do a night out in Montreal the right way.
From our relaxed Euro-inspired attitudes towards drinking, endless bars, clubs and lounges (which are open relatively late, might I add), and the affordability that allows Montrealers to frequent more often their favorite places more easily – it is obvious that Montreal is the place to party.
Sure, you can have fun in Vancouver, but don’t think for a second that we can compare the spots of Davie, Granville or Hastings to those of Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Laurent and Crescent, to name a few. (among many , and I mean numerous).
Montreal’s music scene also throws Vancouver out of the park. Montreal has a long tradition of jazz and rock music, both in French and in English — not to mention that a third of the vocal trinity, Celine Dion, rules from our province.
The city’s performance and relationship to the visual arts, theatre, music and dance is also second to none, and I’m sorry to say, but Vancouver could never do that.
Montreal’s entertainment scene is a distinct feature of our city that comes alive with a busy festival calendar that includes the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs, Osheaga, Igloofest and countless other social and cultural events from district.
What competes with Montreal against Vancouver? Bard on the beach? Celebration of Lights? Cherry Blossom Festival? Let’s be realistic.
Vancouver is too expensive
I’m not going to pretend to be an economist or a real estate broker who understands the ins and outs of the market, but what I can tell you is that Vancouver has done a lot more damage to my wallet than Montreal has. never done.
From rent and food to transportation, Van City just costs more, and for what? This question is not rhetorical.
Montreal does better
Now, it may have seemed like I didn’t give a damn about Vancouver (and I totally did), but nonetheless, Vancouver is beautiful and offers a lot of things that Montreal can’t. Like…uh…wait, give me a second. Wait…I’m sure I can think of something.
You understood. From the hustle and bustle of Montreal’s streets, fashion, language, culture, food, to our nightlife and music scene, Montreal does better — and you just have to experience it to believe it.
Believe me, it’s a city worth visiting and falling in love with.