The Nation’s Fall/Winter Tourism Guide

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Messin’ around in Montreal

NHL Hockey

The 2017-18 NHL hockey season is just around the corner, with the Montreal Canadiens visiting the Buffalo Sabres for their season opener October 5. The Ottawa Senators will kick off the campaign at home against the Washington Capitals the same day, while the Boston Bruins host the Nashville Predators.

No matter where your allegiances lie, a new season offers a fresh start for all NHL teams as young prospects and aging veterans battle for roster spots throughout the remainder of the pre-season and training camp. If you’re looking to catch a pre-season game and avoid the high ticket prices of the regular season, the Senators and Canadiens’ last exhibition game of this year will be played at the Bell Centre on September 30.

Here’s a list of other games in Montreal and Ottawa that might tickle your fancy if you’re a hockey fan:

Oct 10: Montreal vs. Chicago

Oct 14: Montreal vs. Toronto

Oct 17: Ottawa vs. Vancouver

Oct 21: Ottawa vs. Toronto

Oct 30: Ottawa vs. Montreal

Nov 4: Ottawa vs. Las Vegas

Nov 7: Montreal vs. Las Vegas

Nov 16: Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh

Nov 29: Montreal vs. Ottawa

Dec 9: Montreal vs. Edmonton

Dec 16: Ottawa vs. Montreal

Dec 30: Ottawa vs. Boston

Jan 9: Ottawa vs. Chicago

Jan 13: Montreal vs. Boston

Jan 20: Montreal vs. Boston

Ashukan Cultural Centre

Managed by Sacred Fire Productions, the Ashukan Cultural Centre in Montreal’s Old Port is a major proponent of Indigenous culture, art and pride. With a mission to “support the professional, economic, personal and social development of [Indigenous] artists,” Sacred Fire uses the centre to host events catering to First Nations, including live shows by the likes of Florent Vollant (performing unplugged on November 24), leadership development summits for Indigenous youth and art exhibitions.

Be sure to check out the beautiful work on display at the cultural centre this winter – perhaps you could even purchase something to bring home! Currently, Ashukan is hosting the works of Maliceet Dominique Normand, Atikamekw Eruoama Awashish and Jacques Newashish, Algonquin Frank Polson, Innu Geneviève Louis, Sioux Riel Benn, Mi’kmac Renée Condo, Algonquin-Cree Wayne McKenzie and James Bay Cree Tim Whiskeychan.


If you fly into Montreal from Cree territory, or are adventurous enough to make the drive, be sure to pack your skates, stick and hockey gloves so you can visit one of the city’s hundreds of outdoor rinks and skating facilities. There truly is something for everyone when it comes to skating – whether you want to cruise around a massive skating rink in the Old Port, enjoy the smooth, indoor ice inside of the Place Bonaventure’s atrium, spend a couple bucks for public skating at a local arena or hop on an outdoor surface to play a game of shinny with the neighbourhood rink rats. Once the temperature drops a few degrees below zero you can visit to find out which rinks are open in the city as well as the quality of the ice surface.

Mount Royal

Home to Montreal’s iconic illuminated cross, Mount Royal’s trails, hills and lookouts are all accessible during the winter and serve up fun outdoor activities for all ages and skill levels. Grab a pair of cross-country skis and explore the park; strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek up the mountain; bring your kids and their sleds to do some tobogganing; or bundle up and strap on your boots for a hike to one of the two viewpoints that look either west over downtown, Westmount and Saint-Henri or east towards the Plateau, Hochelaga and the Olympic Stadium.

Montréal en lumière

Montreal’s major winter festival will run February 22 to March 4 in the heart of downtown. Most events are based around Place des Arts’ Quartier des spectacles, but some take place in other parts of the city. While “Light up Montreal” still has not announced this winter’s programming, the annual event typically features food tastings, live music at numerous venues, art installations, a free outdoor site with slides, ziplines, bonfires and other attractions, plus good company and refreshments. The week-and-a-half party culminates in the famous “nuit blanche” or “all nighter” when public transportation is free of charge and festival events go well into the early hours of the morning.


Also an outdoor festival, Montreal’s Igloofest goes down January 18 to February 3 near Montreal’s Old Port and will once again feature the who’s who of electronic dance music. No artists have been announced to date but it’s quite rare for Igloofest to disappoint. Complete with an ice bar, an ice slide, indoor and outdoor stages, interactive games (last year there was a rock band drum competition) and a #IGLOOSWAG contest to see who has the best one-piece snowsuit, Igloofest is a great winter activity for a group of friends and an excellent way to cure the winter blues if the season is bringing you down.

Spa selections

Whether your stay in Montreal is for business or pleasure, you should make some time for rest and relaxation. Scattered throughout downtown and other more secluded areas on the edge of the island are a number of unique spa experiences that will help you decompress, purge your body of toxins and release the stress and tension caused by work, relationships, your underperforming sports team or other internal and external factors. Here are a couple of Montreal’s best-rated spas, each offering their own twist on a good sweat and cleanse.

Bota Bota

Perhaps Montreal’s most best-known relaxation centre, Bota Bota sits right on top of the Saint Lawrence River and looks out over the water onto the Old Port. Along with the standard water circuit, professional massages, face and body treatments, manicures and pedicures, the spa offers special treatments for pregnant women, package deals with the nearby St. Paul Hotel­ and plenty of ongoing promotions, group rates and coupons that help you get a great deal when you treat yourself, your friends and your loved ones to a day (or more) of R&R. 

Strøm Spa Nordique

Tucked into a natural setting on Nun’s Island, just 20 minutes outside of downtown, Strøm Spa offers the classic thermal bath/steam shower/sauna to cold rinse in a peaceful, soothing environment. Also available are massages, facial and body treatments, nail care, family brunch, “B&B” brunch and bath packages, wellness and sports workshops and “Cøzy Thursdays” that combine a spa treatment with lounge music, relaxation, conversation, wine and liquor tastings and various workshops.


Located on the third floor of one of Old Montreal’s top-rated hotels, La Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites, Rainspa boasts 2,500 square feet of spa, the same traditional treatments of hot/cold, massage, mani-pedi, body treatments and facials, as well as LED and microdermabrasion therapy. LED lights are programmed to help improve skin condition and also send signals to your brain to treat different problems in the body, while microdermabrasion supposedly helps you maintain healthy skin and even complexion. Even more interesting is Rainspa’s hammam – a hot and humid steam room that draws its inspiration from traditional Moroccan and Turkish bathhouses. “Imagine a sauna, but wetter.”

For a complete list of Montreal’s best spas, check out

The Puck Drops: The Cree Nation gears up for a busy hockey season

The 2017-18 hockey season kicked into high gear on September 22, when the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL opened their regular-season schedule with a visit from the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

The Foreurs look to build on last season’s strong playoff performance that took them to the QMJHL quarter-finals. Mistissini’s Adam Cheezo will suit up for the Foreurs for a third season. After his 10 goals and 25 assists in 65 appearances last year, the 18-year-old right-winger is looking to catch the eye of pro scouts.

Cree hockey fans in the Montreal and Ottawa areas will have ample opportunity to see Cheezo and Foreurs live this season. The Foreurs have three road dates with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada at Centre d’excellence Sports Rousseau, located just north of Montreal. Val-d’Or makes its first visit on September 30, followed by an afternoon contest on New Year’s Eve, with a final match-up that may have playoff consequences on March 16.

The club also makes a pair of early-season visits to Gatineau to face the Olympiques, on October 8 and November 5, before turning the calendar with their first game of 2018 on January 3.

Closer to home, preparations are well underway for this season’s annual broomball and hockey tournaments.

The Cree Minor Broomball Tournament will begin in Val-d’Or on October 26. This year’s four-day event will also take place at the Air Creebec Centre and will include a full slate of competitive and recreational categories for boys and girls of all ages.

The puck will drop on the biggest sports event on the Cree calendar when the 37th edition of the Cree Senior Hockey and Broomball Tournament begins on November 30. Over 70 teams in six competitive and recreational categories participated in last year’s event, and that number is expected to grow with the planned addition of men’s competitive broomball.

The kids take over the ice for four days when the 26th annual Cree Minor Hockey Tournament returns April 5. Last year’s tournament featured hundreds of players ranging from Beginner’s Hockey to Midget Competitive. This season’s event is expected to be the biggest yet, and will see games played in Val-d’Or, Senneterre and Malartic.

The hockey season wraps up in early May, with the start of the 2018 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. The 2018 tournament will be hosted by the Membertou First Nation near Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Eeyou Istchee was well represented at the 2017 NAHC, which took place in Cowichan, BC. Cree players again hit the ice as members of the Eastern Door and North squads, with the men finishing with a 2-3-0 record while the women struggled to a 1-3-1 finish.

Fall and Winter Festivals beyond Montreal

While Montreal might be an entertainment hotspot, there are plenty of fun events to be found elsewhere that will appeal to the people of Eeyou Istchee.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

Oct 18-22

While we usually don’t mention events that happen outside of Quebec, we can make an exception seeing that this one is an all-Indigenous festival. Toronto’s imagiNATIVE will be bringing in people from around the world to show 115 features and shorts by Indigenous artists. This year, over 70% of the work being screened was made by Indigenous female directors. For the global Indigenous film community, this is the event of the year.

Symposium Gatineau en Couleurs

Oct 27-29

Attracting artists and sculptors from Quebec and Ontario, this is a celebration and a sharing of culture and art. Enjoy breathtaking works from regional artists, influenced by the world around them and beyond.

Noël chez nous à Rivière-du-Loup

Nov 2-5

If you’re looking for a francophone Christmas event that redefines over-the-top even though it just squeaks by before Remembrance Day, look no further than Rivière-du-Loup. The city hosts a fully tricked-out event that, judging by its website, could blow your mind… or just over-stimulate your kids. Featuring an elf with all of the welcoming charm of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, this gun-jumping giddy-up celebrates Yuletide a full seven weeks early and features a parade, a Christmas market, fireworks, a Christmas cruise, workshops, family meals and lots of events geared towards the wee ones.


Nov 2-4

If you enjoy craft beer and want to hang on to the last vestiges of fall, this beer bash in Sherbrooke may be the thing to lift – or drown, if you prefer – your spirits. Becoming a tradition after only four years, the Dégustabière isn’t just an excuse to drink during off hours, it features delightful “food pairings” in which beer companies put on a spread with their beverages. They make it classy to have a canapé or cheese with a craft beer that is promoted as a “wine alternative.”

Festival de courts métrages Images en vues

Nov 10-12

Short and sweet and often child-oriented, this short film festival in the Magdalen Islands showcases local talent as well as big names from the world of short films. With a special event for children (Les P’tites vues), this fest offers a broad spectrum of work including fiction, documentary, animation and art-house shorts.

Noël en Gaspésie à New Richmond

Nov 16, 2017 – Jan 1, 2018

This event simultaneously celebrates the magic of the Gaspé region and of Christmas. Usually we think of heading to the Gaspé during the summer, but why not try it when it’s frigid, snowy and the roads are icy? This New Richmond festival promises a varied program – with a parade, a Christmas market and family activities – that is guaranteed to fill your holiday season with cheer. Have fun!

Festival Trad de Shawinigan

Nov 23-26

Celebrating its second year, this new festival highlights traditional Québécois music as well as dance and storytelling. Several Québécois entertainers will exult the trad of their culture so be ready for lots of “chansons à répondre” (call-and-response songs) with everybody on and off stage participating in the frenzy of folkie fun.

Noël en lumière et Marché de Noël au Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap

Dec 8, 2017 – Jan 7, 2018

This village near Trois-Rivières offers a delightful winter wonderland to experience a warm winter glow that comes from a town spectacularly done up in lights and decorations for a Christmas market. Now in its 15th year, this glorious religious shrine in Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap is decorated magnificently in the true sprit of the season. Known for the sheer splendour of seeing this sanctuary all lit up, there is also a small holiday market to take in as well as services and other activities. It’s a great way to celebrate to true meaning of the holidays or just take in an awesome light show.

Tomcod Ice Fishing Festival

Jan 15-Feb 15, 2018 (TBC)

For real fans of ice fishing, there is no better place to rent a little shack and go stir crazy while waiting in close confines with your buddies for something to bite. The Tomcod festival in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade is usually held January 15 to February 15, but due to global warming, nobody can be sure whether the ice will be thick and safe enough at that point for ice fishing so the organizers have added a dates-to-be-confirmed disclaimer. That’s the unpredictable reality of a Quebec winter now.

Festival interglacial de la BD et des univers givrés

Jan 22-Feb 11, 2018

Held in Shawinigan, this “frozen universe”-themed comic-con will feature comics being drawn on the spot, superheroes, virtual reality and all of the typical trappings of a comic-con but in a smaller setting. It’s a great way to enjoy local artistic visions expressed in a relatively new medium.

Festival des glaces de Saint-Gédéon

Feb 1-28, 2018 (TBC)

This annual event sees the return of hundreds of incredible and beautiful ice sculptures. Featuring professionals and amateur ice-sculpture artists from Quebec, this is a month of live entertainment, a giant tobogganing hill for the kids, a skating rink, games, prizes and evening shows. It will take the gloom out of your February.


Feb 1-28, 2018 (TBC)

Electrify your winter blues away in Rimouski come February with four adrenaline-filled weekends of music, sports and activities that are guaranteed to be exciting. RikiFest features ice canoe races, bubble soccer on snow, an intercultural winter gourmet market, a snow rally demo, a Nordic race, electro evenings and a grand finale, an electro event marking the close of the festival, that will be loud and exciting if it is to keep in step with the rest of these activities offered.



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