From tomorrow through August 20th, NDG residents, frequent visitors to the neighbourhood and even people from all over looking for something fun to do in the summer have a chance to discover more about this sprawling community in western Montreal and document what they learn on social media. It’s a scavenger hunt.

In particular, it’s the ScaveNDGers Hunt, officially part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. ScaveNDGers is an event created and organized by Sarah Ring and Aurora Robinson, two NDG residents who are also behind another successful community-based event, PorchFest NDG, a porch-based local music festival that happens every spring.

I had a chance to speak with Ring about this very unique scavenger hunt:

FTB: Where did you get an idea for an NDG scavenger hunt? Did the success of PorchFest play a role?

Sarah Ring: The city put out a call for projects last year and the NDG Community Council (Sharon Sweeney who is the center of a lot of community-driven initiatives in NDG) reached out to a lot of people, groups, organizers to brainstorm possible projects that could get funding. So being the organizers of PorchFest got us invited to that session and I assume showed the city/board of decision-makers that we could handle the job.

It was during that session that we came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt but instead of people having to unearth certain objects (like a Rolling Stones concert ticket from 1978) we thought that people could have tasks to accomplish.

Many NDG events seem to center around Sherbrooke and Monkland, but according to your map, this event incorporates all of NDG, including below the tracks and the northern parts of the neighbourhood. Do you think this will help people discover other parts of NDG they may not visit frequently?

NDG is big and we thought it would be a great opportunity for people to discover other parts of their hood. If you live in the Monkland Village, how often do you go to St-Raymond or Westhaven? Both Aurora and I live in the western part of NDG (Loyola) and it often gets neglected.

A lot of the action is concentrated around NDG/Girouard Park though Arts Week is finally moving west with Sunset on Somerled – a great initiative! There is so much diversity in NDG that some might not know about- conversely, there are a lot of cultural communities that might not be familiar with the history of NDG- this seemed like a great way to bring people of all walks of life and demographics together to make new discoveries – be it people, places, architecture, knowledge.

In this sense the community has been an integral and invaluable part of the project- from its conception, to preparation (Jason Wasserman, an NDGer who did our graphics, was in En Masse) to where we buy our supplies, and translation services to the content of the tasks, and now the participants – though it’s open to everyone not just NDGers. Our focus has all been on the neighborhood and utilizing what great resources we have here locally – you know, by the people for the people!

3. As this is an event for all ages with a strong learning component, albeit a fun one, how much of what is there to be discovered will be fresh knowledge even for adults who have lived in NDG for years in addition to being discoveries for the kids?

For sure some of the clues and facts will be known to some – that’s inevitable. There is a FB group dedicated to NDG bygone eras who have a much richer acquaintance with the past than we do. But a lot of our tasks involve getting participants to do something related to a community service (which people might not know about) or create some public art or record a story. In this sense, participants are creating new knowledge about the neighborhood that will be novel to everyone – recently arrived residents and the old timers alike.

All the images, videos (data) will be archived and preserved. So yes, some facts will not be new to some but all the teams’ results (we have about 60 teams so far!) will generate deep and meaningful connections that will outlast the project. That’s really exciting for us!

If you’re excited, too, or just a bit curious, you can sign up before August 13th at to get started

Montreal is a town replete with festivals. Some are big and corporate, some are smaller and more grassroots. Some are focused on indoor venues, others occupy entire streets. And then there’s PorchFest.

“It’s a music festival that takes place on people’s front porches,” explained PorchFest organizer and NDG resident Aurora Robinson, elaborating that “it’s a community oriented music happening that’s brought to fruition by and for the members of that community.”

Robinson got first-hand experience of the PorchFest concept when she lived in Somerville, Massachusetts, across the river from Boston, one of the growing number of communities with a ProchFest. In Somerville, residents looked forward to this event every year.

“When I came back to NDG,” she noted, “I missed it, and then realized that NDG would be a great place to have one.”

How Does it Work?

The concept of PorchFest is simple. In a nutshell, people sign up to play, either on their own porches or on a friend’s porch and are included as part of the PorchFest lineup. Organizers expect musicians to find their own porches, but, in some cases, if they really can’t find their own, they can help.

“One of the things that separates it from other music festivals is that it’s uncomplicated and inexpensive and not reliant on any kind of corporate sponsorship. It gives experienced musicians a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood, and it gives emerging musicians a chance to play in a low-stress, friendly environment, or maybe even try out performing in public for the first time,” Robinson said, noting that “it’s also a great opportunity to meet your neighbours.”

Why NDG?

Just what makes NDG an ideal location to host the first PorchFest in the Greater Montreal Area? For Robinson, it’s simple: “Nice porches. Great musicians. People who like music. Streets that are nice to walk down. These are the essential ingredients to a successful Porchfest, and NDG’s got ’em all.”

So far, they’ve already got quite a few musicians interested. Some of these are pros, others new to playing music in public.

“The seasoned musicians are perhaps attracted to the idea of a very low-maintenance performance that gives back to their own community,” Robinson speculated, “and amateurs are looking for chances like this to be heard. We don’t have any bands that you’d hear on pop radio, of course. But that’s not at all the aim of Porchfest anyways. We don’t want everyone crowded around one or two porches, blocking traffic. We want people moving around, discovering local talent!”

The deadline to sign up for PorchFest NDG is Monday, April 6th and the event happens Saturday, May 2nd. For more information: