Spooky fun: some Montreal events to mark Halloween & the Day of the Dead

UPDATED OCT. 31, 2012 with more Halloween events

You may not have heard of these community events


Oct. 24-Oct. 31 Halloween D.I.Y. at Coop Le Milieu

Make your own costumes, Halloween decorations (for instance, a crocheted spiderweb, Day of the Dead tissue paper garland), carve a pumpkin etc.

When: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: 1251 Robin (Beaudry metro)

Info: Le Milieu Facebook page

colourful skeleton Dia de los Muertos poster on wall at Cafe 92 degreesDía de los Muertos celebration at Café 92 degrees, plus big event for NDG Food Depot Nov. 2

Two of the café’s owners, Claudia and Maria, hail from Mexico. In recent years they’ve been decorating the café  for the Día de los Muertos, all the while educating some customers about the holiday. This year is no exception. Along with colourful garland banners of skeletons celebrating and loving life (dancing, marrying, drinking, playing guitar), and a big skeleton propped up near the cash register, sugar skulls on shelves, Café 92 degrees is decorated with a variety of  artistic skeleton posters. On Nov. 2 the café  is holding a big fundraising party. Posters will be auctioned off  and the proceeds will be donated to the NDG Food Depot.

Over the next few weekends they will be baking  “pan de muerto” (bread of the dead) to give customers a taste of the traditional bread people eat in Mexico for the Dia de los muertos.

Where: 6703 Sherbrooke W. (corner Montclair)

Día de los muertos celebration happens on Nov. 2.  Choose your favourite poster for the auction happening at 3:30 p.m.

Info: Café 92 degrees Facebook page

screw-head halloween decoration pumpkinlike apple?  with beady eyes and screws sticking out

Friday Oct. 26

St-Raymond Residents Association Haunted Tunnel Halloween Decorating Party

They’re making Halloween decorations for a place some find spooky all the time, the Melrose Tunnel (it’s a pedestrian tunnel linking the St. Raymond part of NDG with the rest of NDG. The St. Raymond’s section is on the south side of the railway tracks, thus the tunnel)

Event is open to everyone living in and/or supporting the St. Raymond’s neighbourhood.

Children must be accompanied by their parents. Materials provided.

Free but donations are welcome.

They are feeding pizza to volunteers.

When: 4-8 p.m.

Where: 5600 Upper Lachine. To find the Melrose Tunnel, either walk south along Melrose past de Maisonneuve or go to Melrose and Upper Lachine and walk north.

Info available here

Día de Los Muertos at La Ruche d’Art St-Henri

Help build a heartfelt ofrenda (offering)  to celebrate the Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico and across the world) at La Ruche d’Art St-Henri, a community art studio.  From 5-8 p.m. people are encouraged to add to an ever-growing collection of  “memories, wishes, photos, and poems” to La Ruche’s collective altar. People are also invited to make or bring larger art works for the walls since La Ruche will continue celebrating the holiday through Nov. 15.

Free.  Bring stories of ancestors and others who have touched your life, music and snacks.

When: 5-8 p.m.

Where: 4525 St-Jacques (metro Place St-Henri)

Info: La Ruche d’Art St-Henri Facebook page

Saturday Oct. 27

Siamsa Halloween Ceili

Montreal’s Irish School of Music, Siamsa (pronounced sheem-sa), holds monthly ceilis that feature music and traditional Irish dancing. This Saturday’s ceili is a little different – not only do you get to try traditional Irish dancing but there are door prizes to be had for wearing a Halloween costume.

Where: NDG Legion, 5455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. (corner Addington)

When: Saturday Oct. 27, 8 p.m. to midnight

Admission: $10

Info: Siamsa Web site

Sunday Oct. 28

Nightmare Before Christmas at Westmount Park United Church

This one’s for children but children of all ages are probably welcome. A live 15-piece orchestra will perform music from the Nightmare Before Christmas and Suite for a Small, Frightened Child. Expect to find a haunted house, tarot card readings and face painting along with plenty of “spooky” treats served up at Café Ghoul. Proceeds go to lunch and after-school programs at St. Columba House.

Where: Westmount Park United Church (corner Lansdowne)

When: 3 p.m. on

Tickets: $20 adults; students/seniors $15; families $45

Info available here.

Words After Dark: Montreal Mystery Night

Book talk and signing with mystery authors Linwood Barclay, Giles Blunt, Archer Mayor, and Peter Kirby.

Tickets available at Paragraphe Books and the Westmount Public Library’s circulation desk.

When:  7 p.m.

Where:  Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, 4626 Sherbrooke St. W

Tickets: $5 regular; $3 students/senior

Info is available on the Quebec Writers’ Federation Web Site

Wednesday Oct. 31 – Halloween for grown-ups events

  1. There are Halloween contests at bars and pubs (Hurley’s Irish Pub, for instance) tonight.
  2. Wear a costume and join the NDG Food Depot’s annual zombie walk and  Thriller flashmob zombie dance to promote its upcoming Christmas food drive. Stop by the depot (2121 Oxford – near de Maisonneuve) at 4 p.m. for makeup prep and to learn Thriller and other dance moves. The group leaves for the zombie walk at 5:30 p.m. sharp. Event continues till 8 p.m.
  3. Startup Drinks is encouraging people to pitch their tech business startup ideas in costume tonight at Brutopia, 1219 Crescent St. Frustratingly the e-mail I received does not give a meeting time. But their past events have started at either 6 or 7 p.m.
  4. Love early country music and early rock and roll?  The Wheel Club in NDG (3373 Cavendish, south of Sherbrooke) is  promising “the west’s deadliest party and Halloween’s most diabolical show. “ The fun includes Eddy Blake and the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, Joey Venom and the Sidewinders, Danny Duke and the Northern Stars, Eric Sandmark and the Party Crashers and more.  Doors open at 8 p.m. $8 with a “real” costume, $10 without. You can even carve a pumpkin.

Friday Nov. 2

3:30 p.m. auction of Día de los Muertos posters at Café 92 (see top of  page)

two of Mexican day of the dead posters hanging on wall at Cafe 92 degrees

Saturday Nov. 3

Día de Muertos event at the MAI (Montréal arts interculturelles) includes an ofrenda, images and music. I believe there may also be dance but the poster doesn’t mention it.

Tickets: $15

When: 6 p.m.

Where: 3680 Jeanne Mance

Info: youalichan2004@gmail.com



Le Milieu – Celebrating Creativity


Saturday’s launch party for the new Coop Le Milieu was amazing. As you can see from the photos, creating beauty doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The shelving on the walls is re-purposed deluxe wine box crates (the SAQ sells them for a fee with the proceeds going to charity), guests painted old donated canvases to create paintings, tissue paper makes for gorgeous flower decorations to hang in windows and you can use your old office paper to create banners.

At the launch party Afra Saskia Tucker, a friend who is one of the co-op’s founders, told me so far she and the other founders have funded the co-op through a catering service they’ve offered to church meals-on-wheels programs. The co-op’s new storefront space on Robin St. is just doors down from Sentier Urbain, a non-profit group whose locale Le Milieu rented to hold workshops over the summer.  Le Milieu’s new permanent space is in a building owned by a co-op and near many other non-profits and co-op groups. The neighbourhood is Montreal’s Gay Village but Afra says she and the other founders were surprised to discover many young families live nearby and the area is pretty much 50/50 bilingual (French and English).

Afra says the co-op is attracting plenty of interest from nearby residents and workers and people are keen to come by and express their creativity.

Membership in this solidarity co-op costs $50 a year.

This Saturday, Oct. 20th Le Milieu’s next workshop, “Upcycle your bike,” will be all about learning about projects you can make with old bicycle parts, for instance, bike tire belts and gear art. Participants will also get to make accessories such as bracelets, cuffs, necklaces and hair clips from recycled bike tubes.

Le Milieu – answering Montrealers’ creative & D.I.Y. needs

Before and after photos of shelving at Le Milieu space, empty and full
From Le Milieu’s Facebook page

Confession: months back I was asked to join the amazing group of women who founded Le Milieu. I bowed out. Time pressures and difficulties in my personal life made me question if I could give much to the project.

What a project it is! In a few short months Le Milieu has evolved into something inspiring and concrete. Tomorrow starting at 5 p.m. the solidarity co-op is hosting a launch party to celebrate the opening of their new space at 1251 rue Robin.

The idea behind this venture is to give people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds an “open and inclusive creative art studio and exhibition space that supports, without judgement, YOUR OWN creative process and encourages spontaneous skillshares, D.I.Y., and cultural participation of all.” There’s an eco component too. The co-op encourages people to collect, upcycle and redistribute arts and crafts materials.

The space is also home to IMAGINe educATION, a center for “liberated learning and social business coaching for teens and young adults” and Kat’s Kitchen, a community kitchen and catering service.

Over the summer Le Milieu acted as a traveling studio, renting space at the Mile End Mission and hosting a number of workshops at Le Sentier Urbain. They taught people how to make fabric brooches and paper beads, how to upcycle wooden pallets into garden planters, how to repurpose vintage jewellery and make your own party decor.

Some workshops also happened at NDG’s breastfeeding specialty boutique Melons & Clementines. For instance: how to upcycle used material into baby bibs, make plush toys from a used glove and make baby mobiles.

Last month Le Mileu joined St. Viateur residents to do some “yarn bombing” at a Good Neighbours community street festival.

The message? You don’t have to be a great artist. You don’t have to have a lot of money to do your art or a D.I.Y. project. And you can have fun as you learn. Being with other people helps you gain a sense of community.

It’s a great project (yes, I’m repeating myself but these women are inspiring). To find out more, do check out tomorrow’s party.


Le Milieu’s Facebook page

Web site

NDG graffiti mural art – A’Shop Does It Again

Huge wall-length mural of child with a galaxy of toys at corner of Décarie & Sherbrooke
© Andrew Belding

“When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Kid” is the latest building-length mural in NDG from A’Shop, an artist-run collective based in east-end Montreal. A’Shop wowed many last year with “Our Lady of Grace,” a five-storey mural on the side of a building at Madison & Sherbrooke. Both murals were organized by Prevention CDN/NDG as part of CDN-NDG borough efforts to beautify the neighbourhood and combat illegal graffiti.

A bike bridge to safety

UPDATE OCT. 24 2012

The Monitor reports the MUHC has clarified its plans for Vendôme metro access. Morgan Lowrie reports MUHC spokesperson Julie Paquet says the MUHC has already built a pedestrian tunnel to the hospital’s underground parking lot and remaining work involves linking the existing pedestrian tunnel (the one linking the metro with the AMT commuter train station) with the new one.

As well, Paquet says the MUHC is in favour of a second entrance for the Vendôme metro and has been “the leader on this issue, rallying our partners, the STM and the AMT to move this idea forward.”

The MUHC welcomes area residents to attend a yearly information session on Nov. 13, 7 p.m, at 5100 de Maisonneuve

I have updated the links section to include The Monitor, Westmount Examiner and the Facebook page of the St-Raymond’s Residents Association

It was just after 6 p.m. last Tuesday (Oct. 2) when I saw a community gathering happen in front of the Vendôme metro.

People sang The Wheels on the Bus as a “school bus” snaked its way around the gathering.

Children played, mothers held their babies, helmet-wearing cyclists stood beside their bikes, people chatted and musicians strummed folk songs.

“Build the bike bridge, build the bike bridge,” they chanted.

Representatives and citizens from cycling and pedestrian groups in Westmount and St. Henri joined NDG activists, citizens and NDG district councillor Peter McQueen for a rally centred around the groups’ wishes for the construction of a bike/pedestrian bridge over Décarie Blvd and a safe means for cyclists to stay on the de Maisonneuve bike path when they’re riding past the metro (right now the bike path abruptly ends in front of the metro but resumes past the metro). Afterwards some people headed to the McGill University Health Centre’s “Bon Voisinage” committee meeting to express their concerns to the MUHC.

“We’re going to the Comité du bon voisinage,” Marlo Turner Ritchie told the gathering. “Why?  Because we’re good neighbours.”

At the Glen Yard site behind the Vendôme metro construction of the McGill University Health Centre’s English community superhospital is well under way. But the area around the metro and superhospital already suffers from too much traffic. Some people feel the MUHC’s traffic plan isn’t taking into account community needs for better public transit and alternatives for people who don’t use cars and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists who use the metro.

“This week there’s been a lot of bad news for Montreal and our faith in these institutions is obviously hurting,” said McQueen, a councillor with Projet Montréal, one of Montreal’s opposition parties, referring to ongoing news reports about widespread corruption and Mafia connections in the awarding of municipal and provincial government contracts. “What we have here with the bike and pedestrian path is an opportunity…What an opportunity for the MUHC and the current administration in Montreal to give something back to the community of NDG and build us our bicycle path, our pedestrian path so we can safely get to the metro station…How about for once a project put together by the people of NDG for the people of NDG?”

The closing of the Upper Lachine Rd. underpass leading to Décarie Blvd. will be a huge hassle for residents of the St. Raymond section of NDG, the area below the CP tracks. Current plans call for a new exit ramp allowing highway access through Addington but so far there’s no sign the city is revisiting a decision to close off Upper Lachine to traffic. Many people count on the 90 bus to get them from Upper Lachine Rd. to the metro but with that access taken away, getting to the metro will be a hellish. McQueen wants the city of Montreal to convince the MUHC to change its traffic plan.

“They’re going to build a new exit (on Addington) just to bring more cars,” said McQueen. “They’re not going to let the cars turn right. They’re all going to have to turn left to come right here in front of our metro station,” said McQueen.  “This is idiocy….In the 21st century they have to wake up to what transit-oriented development means.”

Some Westmount residents also worry about the impact of having a huge influx of people and traffic in a small area.

“This whole area between Claremont and Décarie is already filled to capacity with people and cars, and buses and bicycles,” Dan Lambert of the Westmount Walking and Cycling Association told me.

“Multiply the number of people, let’s say by three and we just can’t see how this could work. We think de Maisonneuve should be shut off to private vehicles between Claremont and Décarie only open to buses and taxis and pedestrians. This would be what we call Place Vendôme. And with the bike path the only safe way we can imagine cyclists to get from NDG through into Westmount we could have a bike bridge and run the bike path behind the metro station, beside the tracks and patch back at de Maisonneuve up at Claremont.”

The groups’ fight for a bike/pedestrian bridge, a second main entrance for the Vendôme metro and a new exit for the Saint Raymond section of NDG has and will continue to receive terrific coverage in local media. Andy Riga of the Montreal Gazette, for instance, has done an excellent job reporting  on the issue – check out his report on why cycling and pedestrian activists want the bridge built.

My questions/concerns

The activism is fantastic but is it achieving results?

Public consultations on the city’s to close the Upper Lachine underpass are happening in November. Will they make a difference?

What will the MUHC do? Does political will exist with city officials to address citizen concerns and improve the current MUHC traffic plan? McQueen mentioned he invited CDN-NDG borough mayor Michael Applebaum (who is also president of Montreal’s executive committee) and Snowdon district city councillor Marvin Rotrand (who is also vice-president of the STM and Majority House Leader for Montreal city council) to attend the rally. It’s unclear if these Union Montreal folks would be willing to put aside politics and work with McQueen, who represents the opposition Projet Montréal.

McQueen said a second entrance to the Vendôme metro will cost a lot of money. Where will this money come from?

I don’t understand why there is even a fight to allow bus, cyclist and pedestrian access to Upper Lachine, considering population density, the number of people who count on public transportation to get around and the times we live in. It’s not as though Montreal needs to encourage car use. We would be better off changing some parts of our neighbourhoods so that they don’t revolve around having a car.

This superhospital is going to make getting around the St. Raymond section of NDG or anywhere near the metro and bordering areas of Westmount and St. Henri a nightmare. Right now construction is causing heavy traffic and it’s difficult to get to the Vendôme metro by bus in a reasonable amount of time. Buses are detoured several blocks past the metro into Westmount. If you’re counting on a bus to take you to the metro you have to leave home early or allow extra time in case of delays. The de Maisonneuve bike path (Claire Morissette bike path)  has never been properly finished around the metro and that section of town has long been hazardous for pedestrians. You’d think the area surrounding a metro station would be pedestrian friendly. You’d think it would be progressive, even healthy to encourage alternatives to cars (taxis could be the exception) in the area. My son has asthma and the Montreal Children’s is supposed to relocate to the superhospital site. Will asthmatics have to negotiate dense traffic and car fumes on their way to the hospital? Will you need a car to get to the hospital safely?

With Upper Lachine Road closed to traffic, the St. Raymond section of NDG will not only be cut off but the already dense traffic in the area will increase. Something has to change and soon.

For more info

St-Raymond’s Residents Association

Rassemblement métro Vendôme RALLY!

NDG Cyclist & Pedestrian Association

Westmount Walking and Cycling Association

MUHC Good Neighbourly Relations Committee

Office de consultation publique de Montréal

Andy Riga, Montreal Gazette city blogger and transportation reporter

Isaac Olson, NDG/Hampstead/CSL Free Press

P.A. Sevigny, The Suburban

The Monitor

The Westmount Examiner

Rally for Decarie bridge; Pedestrian access to MUHC, John Symon, The West End Times

No end in sight for Vendôme traffic snarls, Tracey Lindeman, CULT MTL

Playing catch up

My next few posts will be accounts of  two events I attended last week, along with information on how to find out more/get involved.

I will also profile an exciting new initiative that’s holding a launch party this weekend to celebrate their new meeting space.