Montreal: Maple Syrup Hospitality & Buggy Art

Montreal: Maple Syrup Hospitality & Buggy Art

On our first morning in Quebec, we patted our little pup on the head, stuffed pillows into our staircase so that she couldn’t climb into the loft unsupervised, left our campground and headed straight for downtown Montreal.

As we entered the old part of the city without any type of plan, we were greeted with a delicious surprise: a maple syrup tasting.

THGJ Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup Tasting in Old Montreal

THGJ Maple Syrup

I remember trying a few maple sugar candies when I was a kid and loving them so much that I pleaded with my parents to buy more, and more, and MORE! But honestly, who can trust a ten-year-old’s taste buds? As I slowly placed a tiny cube of maple sugar on my tongue, I wondered if  the “twenty-eight-year-old-me” would want more, and more, and MORE….

And she did… or, I did. But, alas, I live in a tiny house and only allow myself one gift a day, and that gift has to replace something in my house or evaporate within a few weeks. Guillaume and I bought one leaf-shaped jar of maple syrup, which has now been consumed and no longer exists.

THGJ Maple Syrup

I finally understand why Canadians take their maple syrup so seriously. It’s nature’s organic cocaine. Not that I’ve actually tried cocaine, but maple syrup is what I assume cocaine would taste like, if you could pump cocaine out of a tree and pour a rich amber glob of it on top of pancakes. You’re with me on this, right?

Next Guillaume had a brilliant idea: “We should rent bikes!”

“Heck yeah, we should!” I agreed.

Montreal Bicycle

Five minutes later, I was struggling up a gargantuan hill and no longer thought Guillaume’s idea was brilliant. We ditched the bikes and went for a hike in Mount Royal park.

Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park
View from the top of Mount Royal Park
Montreal Trees
Orange Trees in Mount Royal Park

It was an enormous park with plenty of trails and gorgeous orange and red trees everywhere. The top offered delightful panoramic views of Montreal.

Later we returned to Old Montreal for dinner and found an excellent Polish restaurant called Stash Cafe. Guillaume had never tried Polish food before and he absolutely fell in love with it.

Stash Cafe
Exterior of Stash Cafe in Old Montreal

Stash Cafe

Stash Cafe
Inside Stash Cafe
Stash Cafe
Artwork in Stash Cafe – a tiny house on wheels? I knew I liked this place!

A few days later we moved our house to a driveway in Laval. David had contacted us weeks prior to offer us parking in his driveway, and this was the first time we were able to make it work!

As we boondocked on his property, we got to know David, his wife Chantal and their children. We had two INCREDIBLE dinners with them (fondue and poutine paired with local beer or wine), and Chantal even sent us off with a few lunches worth of homemade soup and bread.

David & Chantalle
Our Driveway Stay with David & Chantal
David & Chantalle
Fondue Night! YUM

This extraordinary hospitality from strangers was absolutely unimaginable a few months ago. Thank you David and Chantal, I’m so happy we can now call you our friends.

On our last evening in Montreal we went to the botanical gardens. Every year they put on a breathtaking display of handmade paper lanterns in the Chinese garden. It takes an entire year to design and create these beautiful pieces. As I walked the groomed stone pathways, I was guided by hundreds of glowing beacons telling the story of the Chinese explorer, Zheng He.

My cheeks turned pink from the brisk autumn wind as we zig-zagged through the iridescent scene. I read dozens of passages about Zheng He, but I can’t remember much about him now, except that he had a lot of boats and not a lot of balls (he was a eunuch)! Soon I was yearning for a cup of hot cocoa or ginger tea. Note to self: always bring refreshments.

Before leaving the gardens we stopped off at the Insectarium.

Mosaic of Insect Butts

A group of art students were drawing their own species of butterfly for an assignment, and Guillaume asked one of them if he could take her photo. She’s obviously very talented.

Butterfly Drawings
Local Art Student at the Insectarium

The next day we left Montreal. David and Chantal told us it was the beginning of Canada’s “Indian Summer,” so we could look forward to one week of warm weather before winter slices through like a sharp knife.

We weren’t ready for winter. In fact, we hadn’t planned to install the wood stove in our tiny house for another month. So we crossed our fingers that they were right, packed up and headed north toward Quebec City.

Au Revoir, Montreal.

– Jenna




  1. October 22, 2014 / 7:33 am

    The pillow stuffing at the start of this post made me chuckle. There’s nothing like coming home to a bed that had a dog, or two, sleeping in it all day. We use a baby gate to block their entrance to the bed in the bus. Beautiful photos! Sounds like it’s almost time for you guys to start heading south 😉

  2. Deb
    October 20, 2014 / 11:15 am

    I look forward to your photos and blog entries like I do snippets from my own boys lives (you are friends with one of my sons and is how I heard of your adventure!) You both are very talented, wise and ambitious. I see a Tiny House Adventure coffee table book in the making. Safe and sunny trails to you trois 🙂

    • User Avatar October 20, 2014 / 11:40 am

      Thanks Deb! That’s very nice of you to say. We might very well make a book 🙂

  3. Terrie Jordan
    October 20, 2014 / 9:07 am

    I had the same experience as a child with maple sugar candy….I think I’d have made room for much more. I admire your restraint. Love your commentary, and I’m traveling with you in my imagination! Safe travels….Terrie

  4. dhowardgreer
    October 20, 2014 / 9:06 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey 🙂

  5. October 20, 2014 / 8:07 am

    Dear Jenna,
    In my crazy youth, I did try cocaine. Given a choice, I would opt for good maple syrup every time. (Actually, I would choose even BAD maple syrup over cocaine now that my curiosity has long since been satisfied.)

    I am enjoying your blog so much and look forward to each post. Our driveway here in Portland, Oregon, is at your disposal if you pass through; however, we are on a narrow dead-end street, so it may not be practical. If you have no other offers and are up to the task of maneuvering your house backwards, let me know. My husband and I would love to show off Portland for you and Guillaume.

    Nicole Ritz

    • User Avatar October 20, 2014 / 8:11 am

      Thank you so much Nicole, we’re glad you like our adventures! And thanks for letting us know that maple syrup is better than cocaine, you save us from having to try 😉
      Reach out to us again when we get closer to Portland, OR to make sure you can at least check out our house! We’ll let you know if we take your offer on your driveway, thanks!

  6. Larry Elliott
    October 20, 2014 / 8:04 am

    Jenna and Guillaume — Thanks so much for sharing Your adventures. The pictures are beautiful And your words Jenna are written very well. I’m sure everyone reading your blog Wishes they could be with you both. Oops, I mean you 3. Wishing you safe and blessed travels. Larry

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