If you have a regular spot along Ste-Catherine where your friends know they can meet you during the annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, you won’t be going there this year. Well, I suppose you can, but you’ll just be standing on a street corner, quite possibly day drinking in public alone, for a few hours.

For the first time in over half a century, the parade will be a block up, running along de Maisonneuve from City Councillors to MacKay, where it will head south to René-Lévesque and finish. That’s right, it will also be running east to west for the first time in my lifetime at least.

This is due to major renovations on Ste-Catherine, currently underway around Bleury and making their way to Atwater over the next four years. While Mayor Valérie Plante may be changing some of the specifics of the plan, it was former Mayor Denis Coderre who set the timeframe, so you can blame him (or Montreal’s outdated sewage system) for the change.

This Will Be…Different

So what will a St. Patty’s Parade on de Maisonneuve look and feel like? Possibly a little more cramped and awkward than usual.

While de Maisonneuve may offer a slightly wider street than Ste-Catherine at parts, sidewalk space is, for the most part, considerably smaller (hence the cramped). That is unless you close the bike path and use it as spectator space, which I’m guessing they will do (hence the awkward).

The floats and marching bands will have enough space to make their way down the route. If you want to watch them go by, though, picking a good spot could be crucial to your enjoyment.

Most businesses in the area benefit from the parade. During the parade itself, that’s mainly depanneurs, coffee shops and restaurants. The categories won’t change this year, but those specific businesses used to dealing with a sustained rush (and in some cased inflating prices) will be relegated to a larger than normal clientele thinking ahead and vice versa.

The route

For many, myself included, parade day is also about the mid-afternoon after-party. That’s what it’s all about for area bars who have one of their biggest days of the year on a Sunday afternoon.

While there are some major bars along the parade route located between de Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, most that cater to the St-Patty’s crowd can be found heading south towards René-Lévesque or along Ste-Catherine itself. This is especially true in the Guy-Concordia area.

All bars in the area will, of course, be packed to one degree or another this year, but I wonder if altered proximity to where everyone is coming from will make a difference in just how packed certain places will get. This is one time of year when passing by one place first instead of another just down the street can make a difference.

But Not That Different

While a key part of the ritual that is the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade will be different this year, there are at least three key things moving up a street can’t change:

The Show: It’s the same parade, pretty much. The Irish dancers will still be there, so will the Shriners, the high school marching bands, the university floats, the corporate product placement, the fire department from some random town in Ontario and, of course, local media. Well, not all local media, FTB still doesn’t have a float. Sure, we never asked for one, but still… Different street, same parade.

Unexpected Meetings: My favourite part of parade day are all the chance encounters with people I haven’t seen, except for online, since the previous year, or sometimes for a lot longer. You never know just who you’re going to run into and randomly hang out with for a few minutes or a few hours and that won’t change with a different route.

Montreal Spring: No matter how cold it may be outside on the day, or the fact that it was significantly warmer the previous weekend, this is really the first sign that spring has come to Montreal. We’re all outside for a decent period of time together and we’re enjoying it.

And we can do that on de Maisonneuve just as well as we can on Ste-Catherine.

* The 195th Annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on Sunday, March 18th

This is the premier edition of the FTB Podcast, a bi-weekly panel discussion with reports, interviews and more. Over the next few months, topics will range from news items, politics, social issues, music, arts and more from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and the world.

In our first episode, we discuss the anti-police brutality march, Bill C-51 and a proposed name change for the McGill Redmen.

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau


Irkar Beljaars: Producer of Native Solidarity News on CKUT, Mohawk journalist and writer.

Arturo Vasquez: NGO consultant working with human rights and indigenous communities in Mexico, Political Science major at Concordia. To inquire about his consultation services, please send him an email: arturovasques (at) outlook (dot) com.

Drew Wolfson Bell: Sports Editor at the McGill Daily, third-year Education student

Anti-Police Brutality March Report by Cem Ertekin

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest bar holidays of the year. It’s a celebration of all things Irish, and everything the Irish have contributed to modern society. And by that I mean it’s been stripped of any real cultural significance it once may have had and is an excuse for hordes of non-Irish people who can’t hold their liquor to go out for one of the three nights of the year that they party, put on an abundance of cheap gaudy green clothing and accessories that an actual Irish person wouldn’t wear for a barrel full of Guinness, and puke up so much green food colouring-drenched Bud Light that any given bar bathroom looks like a crime scene Agent Mulder would soil his suit pants over.

So, in the spirit of the day, here are a few fun St. Paddy’s Day activities that you might enjoy trying. Because, remember, today everyone is a little bit Irish! Except, of course, the Irish, who are a lot Irish, and who are probably downplaying it as much as they can to disassociate themselves from the monstrosity that this holiday has become.

The first activity of the night involves shots. Because we all know the best way to kickstart an extended night of dangerous levels of alcohol consumption is to do shots. Specifically, see how many Jameson shots you can force into your “Rock out with your shamrock out” t-shirt clad stomach and still make it out your front door. This is a good game to start with, because it gauges how prepared you are for the rest of the night. If you can make it off your couch and get past the door frame without concussing yourself, you might be ready for round two.

If you do end up making it out, another fun thing to do is see how many people you can get to kiss you by claiming you’re Irish. This is a competitive game that you can get a few friends involved in, or even just compete with yourself to beat last year’s record. Either way, you’ve got to play to win, so you’ll need to dress the part. Make sure you’re wearing one of those tall green dollar store hats (which also doubles as an emergency puke collector), and four-leaf-clover-shaped sunglasses. I can’t stress enough how important the clover-shaped sunglasses are. No one is going to take you seriously on St. Patrick’s Day if you’re not wearing clover-shaped sunglasses. The bigger the better, too. Oh, and be sure not to forget the old Irish custom of wearing leftover green Mardi Gras beads.

Now, the goal here is to try to get more and more people to kiss you the drunker you get. The rules are pretty simple; walk up to someone, preferably interrupting any conversation they might be having, and shout “kiss me, I’m Irish” at them. Then, when they look at you disgustedly and refuse, try to force them to until you get kicked out of the bar. Then move on to the next bar. You get bonus points for each time you get pepper sprayed. The trick to winning this game is that the more slurred your speech gets and the more vomit crusts the front of your clever green novelty shirt, the harder you have to try to insist yourself upon people. The game ends when all participants are either unconscious in an alley or in police custody for assault.

Another fun game, though this one is for more advanced players, is to shit your pants and try to make it home to pass out in your bathtub. This can be a challenging one. The way it works is that you shit yourself, ideally while you’re trying to make someone kiss you or when you’re getting belligerent with bar security or the police, and you try to remember A) where you are, and B) where you live, then figure out how to get from A to B. Taxis and buses won’t let you in because your leprechaun pants are clearly filled with enough green-stained poop to fill the pot at the end of the world’s most disgusting rainbow, and who knows if you’ll survive the walk, so you have to get creative. Bonus points if you can convince a drunk ex to drive you in their car and make them kiss you but then be unable to perform sexually.

Finally, the most difficult St. Patrick’s Day challenge of all; convincing your friends and significant other to forgive you the next afternoon when you wake up. As far as I know, to this date, no one has successfully won this challenge, so godspeed and get texting.

This should provide you with enough exciting fun to make your St. Patrick’s Day celebration the best you’ve had yet. Be sure to proudly post on social media about how aggressively drunk you are so I can see how well you do on each game, because god knows I won’t be setting foot outside my apartment to interact with you morons until this travesty of a holiday is long over.


Photo by afagen via Flickr