Travel log

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For its 23rd edition, the Mtl en Arts festival is back in force, with a few improvements. From June 29 to July 3, the festival will bring together a hundred of artists from various disciplines as well as many artistic activities : exhibitions, live creations, parades and conferences.

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This year, the festival will mostly take part in the eastern part of the Village, between Beaudry and Papineau streets, which will encourage a better synergy between the artists and the public, as well as a friendly atmosphere.

« What a pleasure to be back this year with a new edition, highlighting diversity in all its forms », says Stéphane Mabilais, general manager of the festival.

Diversity at the core of the festival

More than ever, it was important for the organizers of the festival to promote diversity through the programming, whether in terms of culture or gender. This year, about 20% of the artists are coming from diverse backgrounds.

Moreover, a new activity is introduced this year: the "station des artistes" conferences. Hosted by a drag queen, there will be three conferences per day where the artists will be presented. In addition, throughout the festival, artists from the Afro Museum will be on site for an exhibition and to lead creative art workshops for teenagers and children.

As part of the "L'art qui redonne" project, LGBTQ2S+ artists Nikki Küntzle (she/they) and Enok (they/them) will create large-scale temporary murals inspired by the mission of ATQ (Aide aux Trans du Québec). Reproductions of these works will be sold in support of the organization.
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Studio ZX's festive parade under the theme of diversity will parade down St. Catherine street. Even bigger than last year, stilt walkers, jugglers, dancers and others will be there to entertain the public. Festival-goers are also invited to participate in the parade by showcasing their colors.

Animations for every taste and age

Between Beaudry and Papineau streets, many other moving and still animations will be offered :
• L'expo-vente : an exhibition bringing together approximately forthy visual artists to celebrate local creativity, the richness of diversity and the dynamism of the next generation.
• L’art mobile : creation of large format artworks on a wheeled mobile support.

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• Ça déménage : artists Raphaël Dairon and MC Baldassari will give a second life to used furniture by transforming it into unique works of art. This creative and eco-responsible project is possible thanks to the festival's partners, Recyc-Québec and Desjardins.
• Murale collective : under the inspiration of the artist Dalkhafine, the public will be invited to paint a giant mural with the help of the colours indicated. The result will be a beautiful collective work of art.

Animations for every taste and age

Between Beaudry and Papineau streets, many other moving and still animations will be offered :
• L'expo-vente : an exhibition bringing together approximately forthy visual artists to celebrate local creativity, the richness of diversity and the dynamism of the next generation.
• L’art mobile : creation of large format artworks on a wheeled mobile support.
• Ça déménage : artists Raphaël Dairon and MC Baldassari will give a second life to used furniture by transforming it into unique works of art. This creative and eco-responsible project is possible thanks to the festival's partners, Recyc-Québec and Desjardins.
• Murale collective : under the inspiration of the artist Dalkhafine, the public will be invited to paint a giant mural with the help of the colours indicated. The result will be a beautiful collective work of art.

East of the Saint-Charles river and next to Saint-Roch, Limoilou was, throughout the 20th century, the most working-class neighbourhood of Québec city. The American-style urban planning with checkered streets and avenues and rows of triplex apartment buildings is in notable contrast to both the old city, which was built before the arrival of the automobile, and the newer suburbs surrounding it. With its tree-lined avenues typical of 20th century city life and the huge, inexpensive apartments, it has long attracted many students enrolled at the Limoilou cégep, one of the most important colleges in the region. 

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Marie-Claire Blais

The area takes its name from the French seigneurie of Jacques-Cartier, who was the first explorer to set foot on its soil. Today, it is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods of Québec, thus attracting many gays and lesbians early on. The reinvigoration of Limoilou is particularly noticeable along 3rd avenue in the heart of Vieux-Limoilou, where many restaurants and pubs have set up shop. The new nearby Centre Vidéotron performance hall has also largely contributed to this revitalization.
Fine dining in Limoilou
Among the gay-friendly establishments of Limoilou, the restaurants La Planque and Cendrillon are two key locations on 3rd avenue. La Planque is set up as a sort of shelter from the storm, featuring four distinct atmospheres: the basement hideout is intimate and perfect for meetings, the bar section for a more casual ambiance, the kitchen area is great for those who want to be at the centre of the action, and the mezzanine, which is intimate while still allowing a view of the kitchen and bar. Its neighbour, Le Cendrillon, is a friendly restaurant with an unpretentious and eclectic décor. It aimed to revive a cult neighbourhood location of the same name from the 50’s. Local products are carefully selected from nearby establishments and are at the heart of their menu, composed of homemade-style dishes, Québec cheeses, an oyster bar and wood charcoal-grilled meats.
The nearby Fun en Bouche is Limoilou’s “green” restaurant. In an urban and minimalist décor, this eco-friendly spot specializes in breakfasts, with eggs Benedict, omelettes, crêpes, bread puddings and Viennese pastries. They also serve light meals like paninis, ciabatta or bagel sandwiches and quiches.
On Chemin de la Canardière in the eastern part of the neighbourhood, the pizzeria Le Maizerets is a must. The place has been operating as a pizzeria for more than 50 years, and for the past 30 years the current restaurant has specialized in thin-crust pizzas - some say the best you can find west of Rome

From June 9 to September 5, 2022

Presented as a world exclusive in Québec City, the America. Between Dreams and Realities exhibition proposes a sweeping panorama of 20th and 21st century American art through 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos from the prestigious collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden collection in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian Institution’s national museum of modern art.

A wide-ranging group of more than 80 artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Edward Hopper, Arthur Jafa, the Guerrilla Girls, Willem de Kooning, Ana Mendieta, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol produced the works assembled, which illustrate the impact of social and cultural history on artistic creation in the United States from the Great Depression to the present.

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This outstanding exhibition will show how the artists have contributed to defining and reinventing the American dream by broaching themes such as the imagination of the land, the spectacle of everyday life, technological revolutions, or the challenges of globalization. It will also highlight identity-related questions and present committed practices attuned to the movement to achieve recognition for civil rights and feminism.

A plant-filled park with a gleaming thunderhead sculpture at its centre is the winning design for a new monument in Ottawa to honour victims of its LGBTQ2+ purge. The LGBTQ2+ National Monument is a partnership between the federal government and the LGBT Purge Fund, which was created from the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the government. That lawsuit was born from the so-called gay purge, during which several thousand Canadians were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired between 1955 and 1996.

The executive director of the purge fund, Michelle Douglas, announced Wednesday that Team Wreford's design won the competition. The monument will feature a mirrored thunderhead cloud inside a large column, with a stage outside for performances and protests, and space inside the thunderhead for more intimate events.

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A view of the inside of the monument, which can host intimate events such as vigils. (Team Wreford)
"Our design embodies the strength, activism and hope of the LGBTQ2+ community, and is a lasting testimony to the courage and humanity of those who were harmed by the purge, homophobic and transphobic laws and norms, and Canada's colonial history," the design winners, Team Wreford, said in their pitch. "It rises up as our community has risen up to say, 'We demand change.'"

The area around the monument will feature an orchard, medicinal garden, a healing circle with stones chosen by two-spirit Indigenous elders and a path tracing LGBTQ2+ history in Canada, according to the proposal. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Team Wreford pitched the thunderhead as a symbol of a community rising up to demand change. (Team Wreford/Government of Canada)
Team Wreford is tied to Winnipeg. Architects Public City Inc. are based there, as are visual artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan. Advisor Albert McLeod lives there and has family history in Manitoba's Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Norway House Métis community.

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The monument will stand in a grassy area on the Ottawa end of the Portage Bridge, which connects Ontario and Quebec over the Ottawa River, just west of Parliament Hill. The winning design was chosen from a pool of five potential designs that had been released in November 2021 for public feedback. Besides the central thunderhead sculpture, the winning design has a path tracing LGBTQ2+ history and a healing circle made of stones chosen by two-spirit Indigenous elders. (Team Wreford/Government of Canada)

The exhibition JJ Levine: Queer Photographs invites you to discover the work of Montreal photographer JJ Levine via a selection of portraits drawn from three different series. In staged photographs of queer subjects in intimate, domestic settings, Levine questions the representation of traditional binary gender roles. Composed of 52 large format photographs, including several that have never been exhibited, the compelling exhibition is complemented by a video illustrating the artist’s creative process. Actually a retrospective of Levine’s portraiture work that he began in 2006, it borrows from the studio portrait tradition to celebrate people who self-identify as queer.

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Queer Portraits, started in 2006, is composed of portraits of individuals, couples and children chosen by the artist from among his queer friends. Veritable mises en scène of daily life, these photographs, usually taken in the models’ homes, aim to define the personal identity of the subjects. The artist considers this ongoing series a “life project.”
Alone Time depicts heterosexual couples sharing intimate moments, primarily in domestic settings. However, each couple is in fact composed of only one model playing both the male and female characters. To construct these portraits, the artist layers several different negatives together. This ongoing project began in 2007.

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At first glance, Switch appears to be a series of portraits of heterosexual couples dressed up for a special occasion, like a prom. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that each diptych is composed of two people rather than four. Each model is dressed as a man in one photo and as a woman in the adjacent one. This project was completed in 2009.
JJ LEVINEJJ Levine is an images-based artist living and working in Tiohti:áke/Montreal known for his compelling body of work in portraiture. Levine holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Concordia University. He is currently represented by ELLEPHANT Gallery (Montreal), and his work has been exhibited at museums, galleries, and art festivals in Canada, the United States, Mexico, as well as numerous European countries. His artwork and writing have been published in academic journals, including Photography and Culture (UK). Levine’s images have also been featured in art magazines and newspapers internationally, such as CV Photo (Canada), Esse (Canada), Slate (US), The Guardian Observer (UK and US), and Society (France).Levine was a finalist for the Prix Découverte Louis Roederer in 2019 at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival (France). In 2015, Levine self-published two artist books: Queer Portraits: 2006- 2015 and Switch. Levine’s artistic practice balances a radical queer agenda with a strong formal aesthetic.

The territories of the Gaspé and the Maritimes covered in this Guide have been occupied for millennia by the Mi'gmaqs whom the French called Micmacs. Even today, it is the communities of this First Nation that you will meet throughout this territory.
In Gaspé, the symbolic site of the first encounters between French explorer Jacques Cartier and this Aboriginal nation, the Micmac Interpretation Site of Gespeg's mission is to showcase the Mi'kmaq culture of the Gaspé community. Through its interpretive activities, this site highlights the history of the community from 1675 to the present day, offering an authentic and original experience to its visitors. The on-site store offers a range of authentic and quality handcrafted products. It showcases Mi'gmaq craftsmanship as well as other products from native cultures of Quebec.
On the Baie des Chaleurs side, Gesgapegiag attracts many tourists eager to take advantage of the various attractions of this part of Mi'gmaq territory. For tourists coming to tour the Gaspé, it is possible to stop in the community for a picnic in the community park or to admire the tipi that was erected by the sea in 2018.
The community of Gesgapegiag has acquired a chalet estate and has set up several tipis in Anse Sainte-Hélène to offer tourists the chance to experience an authentic stay. It is also possible for tourists to stay in the replica of the ship La Grande Hermine, one of the ships used by Jacques Cartier. For hikers and snowmobilers, Le Relais de la Cache is located near the Chic-Chocs mountains.
Every year in July, the community organizes a Pow-Wow, a traditional festival attended by all the Mi'gmaqs of the region and to which all those interested in learning about their culture and traditions are invited. This celebration combines songs, dances, cuisine and traditional stories.

Since 2014, Pride has been a growing event. in Pembroke. Pride Walk began when a group of friends decided that the city—and the Ottawa Valley area in general—needed more LGBTQ+ awareness and representation. So, they organized their first Pride event in 2014, a walk through downtown Pembroke with almost 150 attendees. In the past five years, their work has expanded beyond events—organizers recently partnered with PFLAG Renfrew County to bring support meetings to the Ottawa Valley. And events go well beyond the OG walk; last year’s schedule included an inclusive yoga class, Drag Queen Storytime at Pembroke’s public library, an all-ages drag show and, of course, brunch, an overall attendance of a thousand people.

Usually taking place early June, the 2020 schedule is still to be confirmed due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

At the confluence of the Muskrat River and the Ottawa River, Pembroke is main city of Renfrew County, with a population of 15,000.

The first European settlers came to the area now known as Pembroke attracted by the growing lumbering operations of the area.

Originally named Miramichi, the village was renamed after Sidney Herbert, First Admiralty Secretary from 1841 to 1845 and son of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke. It was named seat for Renfrew County in 1861. This set the stage for construction shortly thereafter on the Renfrew County Courthouse, and the arrival of many civil servants, much wealth and much construction.
From 2005 to 2007, the courthouse and (now disused) jail were re-constructed into one building and historic renovations were also completed. Visitors on weekdays can view original 1867 jail cells in the basement, and the original courtroom, complete with a huge replica of the original brass light fixture. County meetings were held here for many years.
Other historic buildings that survive in Pembroke include a historic synagogue, two original hospitals, the Dunlop mansion (Grey Gables Manor Bed & Breakfast), the 'Munroe Block' downtown, and two houses belonging to the White family. A fire in 1918 downtown destroyed many buildings, including the Pembroke Opera House.

Local attractions include 30 historic murals in the downtown area depicting the history of the city, from steam engines to logging.
At the Champlain Trail Pioneer Village and Museum, the history of Ottawa Valley settlers comes alive inside the fully furnished schoolhouse, pioneer log home and church — all built in the 1800s. Other outdoor exhibits include train station, sawmill, blacksmith shop, stonelifter, carriage shed, woodworking shop, bake oven, smokehouse and a 1923 Bickle fire engine. The large museum features artifacts which range from fossils and First Nations arrowheads to furniture, clothing and manufactured products of Pembroke from various eras. There is also a replica of Samuel de Champlain's Astrolabe (he brought the original to the Valley in 1613), an original Cockburn pointer boat, Corliss steam engine, doctor's examination room, fancy parlour rooms, general store, hair salon and more.

The Pembroke Hydro Museum commemorates national hydro-electric development in Pembroke, including the first electric streetlights in Pembroke, and the first municipal building with electric lights (Victoria Hall).


Old Québec is the most popular tourist destination in Québec and features many of the greatest restaurants in the city. In the tradition of Serge Bruyère, many fine chefs in Québec are found in Québec city. Let us mention Jean-Luc Boulay (Le Saint-Amour and Chez Boulay), Arnaud Marchand (Chez Boulay), Daniel Vézina (Laurie Raphaël) and Louis Pacquelin (Panache) among others. Jean-Luc Boulay and Arnaud Marchand from Chez Boulay offer the experience of northern French cuisine while highlighting typical local products. It is located on the ground floor of the elegant Manoir Victoria, on Saint-Jean Street. Close by, Mr. Boulay also presides over the kitchen activities at Saint-Amour, a prominent figure of Québec’s gastronomic scene. Moreover, Saint Amour appears in Trip Advisors’ top 10 fine dining restaurants and it is not unusual to spot a celebrity seated there.

Situated in an old 18th century warehouse in Vieux-Québec and part of the Auberge Saint-Antoine, the restaurant Panache offers the refined menu of chef Louis Pacquelin. While there, you can discover the artefacts showcased on the walls of the building, recalling the rich history of the French colony.

Tourists will also appreciate Les Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant established in a heritage building, where you can discover or rediscover some of the classics of traditional Québec cuisine. Near Château Frontenac, the Continental is renowned for its flambés. Close by, Le Parmesan offers delicious classics of Italian cuisine

Vieux-Québec and Vieux-Port


Walking in the streets of Vieux-Québec is like following in the steps of the pioneers who gave birth to this nation. Founded by Samuel de Champlain as a trading post in 1608, the colony first developed around l’Habitation de Québec before expanding into the first streets traced around the Place Royale in the heart of the Vieux-Port. Restored in the early 1970s, this historical district brings us back in time to the capital of Nouvelle-France (New France) at the end of the 17th century. This was the era of Louis XIV, a bust of whom adorns the area. As I myself am a descendant of Mathurin Gagnon, who was one of the first merchants of Québec and whose home and retail store were located at the current site of the Sault-au-Matelot park (or Parc de l’Unesco), walking on the cobblestones of these historic sites is like reconnecting with the history of our roots in this country. A few steps away, Place Royale is the main site of the annual Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, recreating the French colonial era of its original inhabitants.

In the Vieux-Port, one must absolutely visit the Musée de la Civilisation. The neighborhood is home to many gay-friendly establishments, among them the restaurant Marie-Clarisse, which was opened at the foot of the Casse-Cou staircase by nenowned chef Serge Bruyère.

Heading up to Haute-ville, one can admire the elements of fortification which have made Québec unique, for it is the only still-fortified city in North America. It is the neighborhood commonly reffered to as Vieux-Québec. Built at the end of the 19th century near the Citadelle fort, the hotel Château Frontenac rises above Place Royal on one side of the Terrasse Dufferin. The latter is a splendid walkway offering a spectacular view of the area and is perfect for romantic strolls. One can easily understand why the founders of Québec chose this strategic spot to establish the colony, which would become the capital of New France, then Lower Canada and finally, Québec.

The gay lifestyle took root fairly early in Vieux-Québec. The Sauna-hôtel Hippocampe on Mac Mahon Street, the oldest gay establishment still operating in the province (where some might recognize the interiors used for Robert Lepage’s film Le Confessionnal), has been open for over four decades. The owner, Yvon Pépin, had previously tended bar in many Vieux-Québec clubs, in a time when homosexual life was still mostly underground.

André Gagnon