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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snowshoeing Pictures

Ski Mont Saint Bruno

Guess what my Breaky friends??? Winter is officially here – perhaps not so apparent in Montreal, but many ski hills are now open and the countryside is snow white, at least in the Laurentiens! With temperatures not falling too far from zero, and excellent snow making capacities on the slopes, this is truly an ideal time to get out there!

Yesterday, I went to Belle Neige for my first day of the season which got me thinking about some of you who may not have ever tried out skiing or snowboarding before. While I was doing my MBA at HEC, and could only dream of taking a day off to get on my snowboard, our Strategy professor asked us to analyze a case study on Mont Saint Bruno – a ski resort just 15 km from Montreal that focuses on beginner and intermediate skiers. So if you have ever contemplated trying it out, this is an excellent opportunity to do so! And, with the holiday season just around the corner, a gift certificate is available which makes an excellent gift for friends, family, or colleagues!

If you want to learn how to ski or snowboard, spend a family day outdoors with the kids or grandkids, Mont Saint Bruno is the place to go before you venture further out to the countryside. There are 15 trails with a night time schedule available as well. Tickets can be paid on an hourly rate which provides you with the flexibility to spend as much or as little time out there as you would like. This is the only hill where you can pay to ski for just one hour! Equipment can also be rented at an hourly rate (starting at a minimum of 2 hours) so you don’t need to come prepared with more than some well layered clothing. And, if you plan to take advantage of the hill several times throughout the season, you can buy packages of tickets at a discount:

If you have never been to a ski hill, you may not know that healthy food options are often difficult to come by, and packing a lunch is not always that convenient. Mont Saint Bruno has a beautiful dining hall with healthy options; On the other hand, if you still prefer to enjoy a poutine or burger, this is also available of course!

If you have a season’s pass, you can also join the adventure expedition group and visit other hills in the Laurentiens, Eastern Townships etc. If you don’t have a pass, and space is available, you may still be able to join an excursion. To see a calendar of expeditions check out the schedule at

As of now, there are 6 trails open with 30 cm of packed snow. Check out the conditions before you head out:

Whether you want to ski by day or night, weekday or weekend, Mont Saint Bruno has one of the most flexible schedules:

Since Mont Saint Bruno has a highly qualified school of instructors, I suggest that you take a one hour lesson, and then spend some time practicing on your own. The real beauty of Mont Saint Bruno is the convenience to suit anyone’s schedule!

If you have ever been to Mont Saint Bruno, we would love to hear about your experiences there - so please let me know, and I will publish your story for everyone to read.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Becky follower's 'All-Nighter' experience:

Following this latest post about the Montreal High Lights Festival, Gillian let me know that she has attended every one of the All Nighters and volunteered to share her experiences with us! So here is what she has to say:

Tell me about your experiences at the Montreal All Nighters – are they as exciting as they sound?

The first ones were not too exciting as there were few activities, museums were not open late, there weren’t very many people, and it was bitterly cold. The last two were the exact opposite - almost to the point that for some events it meant queuing up for ages to get in. I went to a tango class after midnight which seemed really crowded but they said it was 'quiet' compared to the ones earlier on!!

Staying out all night can be tiring – how do you manage to pack in all the activities and fun and still manage to make it to the 4:30 AM breakfast?
You should have a mix of being outside, then doing a museum to warm up a bit, and then an activity. We did the tango class as I said, and then went to a museum, and then to cabaret du Roy. I think we got home at about 3am. I'm set for making it through to the breakfast next year though!!

What are your favorite events? Any 'must-sees'?
The Port area is great in the earlier part of the evening - lots going on, lots of people and children, firework displays, and so on. There's so many great events it’s hard to choose one - concerts (most are free), museums (all free), dance classes, skating on the rink at the port - all the usual things that happen in Montreal, but they happen through the evening and night. I wouldn't miss it for anything!! Oh there's the dancing at the Town hall - fun for people watching too!!

What advice would you give to other people interested in attending the festival?
1 Go only with a couple of other people with similar tastes and interests OR with group of friends so that you can split up and go off and do different things and meet up again. Otherwise you can end up doing things you didn't want to do.

2 Plan the itinerary for the event in advance so that you maximize the time you spend there, see things while they are open, and don't spend the night trudging back and forth across Montreal.

3 Mix museums, concerts, and physical activities for variety, to stay warm, and awake!

4 Forget taking the shuttle buses - the line ups are horrendous!

5 Eat; it keeps the energy levels up to ward off the cold and fatigue!!

6 Take a camera - lots of opportunities to take some interesting photos…

So there you have it – one of our own reader's amazing experiences! Do you want to share your experiences with us?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter Festivals

This week has really felt a little more like winter, dipping well into the negative range – brr! I’m still waiting for a good snow fall, but it won’t be long before winter is upon us. Today why don’t we look at a couple of Montreal winter festivals? We all love what the city has to offer in the summer; the Jazz fest, the Just for Laughs Festival, and much more! But with summer a distant memory at this point, I thought we should look into some winter cultural events.

Last year, I did head out to the FĂȘte des Neiges ( which turned out to be a bustle of fun activity! I went with a large group of friends – we rented skates, and went tubing down the mountain - the festival had a really great turnout and there was so much excitement!

This year, I’m really looking forward to checking out the Montreal Highlights festival ( I can’t believe that I’ve never explored this very exciting event that has so many diverse activities to cater to everyone’s interests. And this year, it’s the festival’s 10th anniversary, so there’s bound to be some additional exciting things to do!

Let me tell you about these 2 great festivals, so that you can go and check them out with friends, kids, or grandkids. And, if you’ve been to either of these festivals, please do let me know!

This festival draws a very diverse crowd. It’s a great place to take your kids or grandkids, but personally I don’t think you need to take the kids to have fun – it will just really bring you back to your childhood! You can rent skates and sleds and enjoy some winter fun – but don’t forget to dress in layers, so that you’re comfortable regardless of what the weather may bring. You can leave any extra clothing in lockers available for rent.

The festival takes place on Ile St-Helene and features a 1.5 km skating path and 14 tube slide tracks. There is also a “Tiny Hands” Workshop for kids that teaches them about snow sculpting.

The festival is free but there is $12 fee for parking. The exact dates are not yet confirmed.

If you would like to volunteer at the event, you can visit to sign up.

The Montreal High Lights festival will take place from February 19 to March 1 2009 and is a great way to bring the winter to a close. There are 3 main themes to the festival;

Hydro-Quebec Celebration of Light

Although the exact events for this year are not yet posted, check out the 2008 events at This theme incorporates free outdoor concerts, street entertainers, and light displays at the old Port. There’s a skating rink, ice slides, and bonfires to warm up by with some night time fireworks displays. There is so much fun to be had at no cost!

Air France Wine & Dine Experience presented by American Express
The 2008 activities are available at There are tasting events, gala evenings, demonstrations, conferences, and even some chef workshops! Since 2000, the event has hosted more than 200 chefs with wine producers from all over the world.

Sun Life Performing Arts
The 2008 events surrounding this theme of the festival are at The event hosts international artists, contemporary and classical music orchestras, theater groups, dancers, etc.

In addition to these 3 themes, the festival also incorporates two other major events; the Montreal Underground City Race and the Montreal Hydro-Quebec All-Nighter.

Montreal’s Underground City Race:
This is a 5 km walk or race through corridors, tunnels, and halls – not to mention 100 steps to climb and descend – ugh! Did you know that Montreal’s underground city is the most extensive network of its kind in the world??? There is a total distance of 31 km, 113 buildings, and 69 real estate complexes that make it up!

Montreal Hydro-Quebec All-Nighter
This party scene incorporates a little bit of everything; tango, techno, jazz, pop, classical, etc. There are also horror films, storytelling, and other activities - all celebrated by moonlight. The event ends with a breakfast in Complexe Desjardins at 4:30 AM. So, if you really love Montreal nightlife, this is something you should check out!

For ticket information go to; and if you want to have access to exclusive advance sale tickets, contests, and discounts you can subscribe to the newsletter

I think this is a great way to see winter in Montreal! What do you think?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

For my Breaky Travelers

If you want to visit Montreal (or anywhere else for that matter), and are looking for someone to travel with, you should definitely checkout YowTrip at And, even if you’re traveling with someone you know, it can be a great way to meet up with new people who have the same travel interests as you!
Happy traveling!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Becky's Survey Says....

Hello my fellow Breaky friends! I've been receiving some fantastic responses to my survey and I would like to thank everyone who has responded, and invite those of you who have not yet had the chance to fill it out to take a few minutes to do so.

Perhaps you haven't seen my comments about this survey on the right hand side of this page, so here's what it's all about. I'm currently working on the development of a system that will deliver targeted planned activities directly to you based on your personal interests and hobbies – consider this as your personal virtual leisure planning assistant!

So please, help me create an exciting way to assist you in planning your leisure time by responding to the questionnaire at the following link: Becky's Survey

Your feedback will contribute to developing a vision that will ultimately help me help you....

And please don't forget to stay tuned to Breaky with Becky and the upcoming write-up about a couple of major winter festivals in Montreal!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Now let’s be honest. We don’t all love winter, and some of us just want to find fun things to do indoors – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Right now, it’s starting to get cold out there; we’re getting lots of rain and little snow, so it’s definitely a little early for snowshoeing!

I have tried a number of fun indoor activities, but scrapbooking was never one of them, so this next post was really fun to explore, and I’m definitely going to give it a try now! I’m one of those people who can get very camera happy, and snap pictures of just about anything wherever I go, but when it comes down to having memories to share, the photos end up sitting on my camera or lap-top and almost never make it to a traditional album anymore. But now, with the fun that can be had with scrapbooking, I’m planning to create some great souvenirs of all the fun things I’ve done!

Now my first question is about what materials I need to get started in the first place. If you visit any store-front or look through inventory online, the possibilities are endless! So here’s a list of the basics you will need to get started:

1 An Album

2 A sharp pair of scissors

3 Adhesive (acid-free works well on cardstock & photos)

4 Cardstock and Patterned Papers

5 Journal Pens

6 A Paper Trimmer

7 A Ruler

8 A Pencil

Ok, so now that we know what we need, the question is, how can we learn the techniques and where we can get these materials? I found two fantastic options in Montreal that I would like to tell you about;

I interviewed Samantha Star of ScrapBook Star ( ) and Berit Naume Hovland of Scrapaholix - Montreal Chapter ( for some insights into what they have to offer. So here it is, and if you have any questions that I may not have addressed, please let me know and I will inquire for you!

Before I contacted Samantha, I had a look at her fantastic and colorful website! Samantha hosts a storefront and online site, where you can get all your scrapbooking tools delivered directly to your door! So, if you really find it too cold out there to leave home, you don’t even have to! Not only that, but there’s an online forum hosting 8100 users with anywhere from 5-171 people logged in at any one time – so you can enjoy the whole scrapbooking experience from home, and you can even post your works of art in her gallery. And if you’re reading this, you must have an interest in blogs – so guess what? Samantha has one too: ( However, if you still want to get out there and scrapbook with other people, check out her online calendar of workshops taking place at her store in NDG at: ( So here’s how my interview went with Samantha:

Can you tell me about the various workshops you host?

We give everything from scrapbooking for beginners, to card making, book binding to other paper crafts such as mini albums, calendars etc. All materials are provided for the beginner classes. For our other classes we ask that students arrive with a basic tool kit, which varies from class to class.

What age group does the store-front attract for materials and workshops?

We serve a large range of customers from grade school students to retirees.

How many people attend a typical workshop? Is there always room, or should people call in advance to reserve?

The minimum number of people for a workshop is 4, the maximum is 8. We ask that people reserve their seats. We do have activities called Crops where people bring their own projects to work on, in a group environment. Crops are catered and include goody bags and games and prizes and we generally have anywhere from 12 – 32 people!

Do you provide 1 to 1 workshops or host parties or get-togethers?

We do provide private classes upon request and host birthday parties or other private parties in the store.

Do you have free services?

People can come in at any time and ask for advice on a project they’re working on. We are after all here to help.

Are there any current contests you would like to tell us about?

We have monthly contests which can be found at the following link: (

I also wanted to see if there were any clubs related to scrapbooking in Montreal, and came across the Scrapaholix global website! As I explored the Forum, Gallery, and virtual classes hosted by the owner, Bev Beaudette, I came across a page dedicated to the Montreal Chapter. This is where I found out about Berit, and wanted to know more about her classes so I contacted her. Berit is full of life, and very busy, but managed to make time for my interview with her. She is very enthusiastic about scrapbooking, and here is what she had to say:

Can you tell me about the classes you teach? What would you like people to know about them?

Every month we have a new technique to work with. It can be something that is quite new on the market or something that has been around for a while, but sometimes we can find new ways to use an “old” technique. I teach the technique, we work, share experiences, chat, and have fun and relax all at the same time!

Where are your classes held?

So far I have held the classes in my home and we have had one week-end crop in the Norwegian Church in Lachine. If the club grows to a big club, I have to look for another location or do several smaller groups.

When is the next class?

The next club night will be Wednesday November 26th from 18.30 to 21.00 ++ since I don’t ever ask anyone to leave! The technique we will be doing is called “Dry Embossing” and we will use Coredinations Cardstock which is a special card stock that is really fun to work with!

How much does it cost?

The price is 15$ which includes the kit, instruction, and coffee/tea.

How many people attend a typical class? Is there always room, or should people call in advance to reserve?

We can be a maximum of eight people at a time, and so far we have been from two to eight persons a month. You have to call or e-mail me ( in advance to reserve your spot and your kit, and of course to make sure that I have enough kits. First come, first served. And of course, if people register early enough, I can order more kits.

What materials should people bring with them to a class? What if they don’t have any materials?

I use to tell people to bring their “basic” tools and adhesives. But if you are new to scrapbooking and don’t have any tools, you’re welcome to come “as is”. I will provide you with everything you need for the first two club nights, and I will give you advice about what to buy as basic tools and where you can buy them, and I promise you – you don’t need a lot of tools to join the club. But of course, you need to bring some photos!

What age group do your classes attract? Do you know the age group of members online?

I know very little about age, but we have had people here from just around twenty to over sixty. Age doesn’t matter; we are just having a good time and enjoying scrapbooking!

Do you provide 1 to 1 classes? Would you be willing to visit people in their homes? Host Parties or get-togethers?

Yes, to everything, as long as I have time of course.

Does Scrapaholix have any free services?

Except for the web-page and the forum, no. But now and then I have had some free “come-together-and-do-some-scrapbook-work” evenings for my members.

Both Samantha and Berit were very enthusiastic about scrapbooking and it seems to me that their services are very complimentary. The class schedules don’t conflict, and Samantha’s store can be a great source of materials that can be directly delivered to your door!

So there you have it! Questions, Comments? Please let me know! And don’t forget to visit Scrapbook Star in NDG on Somerled or online at ( and check in with Berit at the next class on November 26th. But don’t forget to let her know you’re coming, ( And for an online international experience visit the Scrapoholix website at (

Have a great time!

Note; in order to avoid posting a very long entry (too late!!!), the blog above is just an excerpt of the interviews with Samantha and Berit. If you’re interested in the complete version, please send me an email ( and I’ll forward a copy to you.