Montreal or Ottawa?

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Montreal or Ottawa?



Hello fellow rebel-rousers. I'm a new member having stumbled across this website while surfing on the net.

OK, here's my question if anyone out there could give me some insight. I've been living and working in France for about 15 years and will be moving back to Canada in late Spring or early Summer of this year.

I'm originally from Toronto. I learned French here in France so I'm perfectly bilingual. The question is: should I move to Montreal or Ottawa? Does anyone know what the current job markets are in those two cities? I love Montreal but hear the economy isn't that great.

I don't know Ottawa but I hear it's lovely. I have to go where the jobs are. The work I do is Executive Assistant / Senior Administrative Assistant / Legal Assistant or Event Organizer. I'd eventually like to become a professional translator but that's for later.

I'd truly appreciate helpful comments anyone might have. Thanks a bunch !


Hi Lark, there are many jobs for legal assistant's pretty much everywhere since the turnover can be fairly high.

Ottawa is gorgeous in the summer but really cold in the winter. Two great choices though.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

If you're more interested in the event organizer side of your skill-set, I'd recommend Montreal. It's a better draw for international (and even national) conferences, and is a far more open place than Ottawa, which can function as a rather incestuous little club.

adam stratton

I live in Ottawa and I concur with LTJ.

PS: Congratulations for acquiring fluency in French and becoming perfectly bilingual.

Give Montreal a three year trial..



Originally posted by Lark08:
[b].... I've been living and working in France for about 15 years and will be moving back to Canada in late Spring or early Summer of this year.

I'm originally from Toronto. I learned French here in France so I'm perfectly bilingual. The question is: should I move to Montreal or Ottawa? Does anyone know what the current job markets are in those two cities? I love Montreal but hear the economy isn't that great...

sheesh, strong parallels to my own background; I live in the French Alps right now, and am considering Ottawa/Montreal eventually, too

lived a decade+ in Montreal, definitely a far more dynamic and interesting city of the two, young Europeans I talk to often love it, but every place has pluses and minuses;

re the economy, Montreal and Quebec generally have been doing quite well in recent years;
when I was in Montreal in July 2007 the most recent StatsCan unemployment figures were lower for Montreal than for Toronto, and I saw help-wanted/ now hiring signs all over the place, unlike my years there during the big downward trend

but Ottawa has the Government, and all that entails for translators like yourself (check the guilds and opportuinities on-line), and easy access to the countryside (although no big deal getting to Townships & Laurentians from Montreal)

both good choices, but Montreal the real CITY of the two ...

btw, where in France do you live?

(oops, I see from your profile you are in Paris.... not bad!)

[ 26 January 2008: Message edited by: Geneva ]


Lots of exec admin positions in Ottawa, having turned down a couple of decent offers to return lately. I'm not quite ready to move back there, as the coast is too nice to leave just yet. The night life in Montreal is far more than anything Ottawa has to offer, and Ottawa's restaurant scene quickly becomes repetitive. The only real advantage Ottawa has going for it over Montreal is the relative quickness that one can escape it.


or, as they say: the road to Montreal [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

Canadiens or Senators???

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

If I were single, I'd definitely choose Montreal.

But as a 'married with children' kinda guy, I'd give the edge to Ottawa. The big city amenities with a small-town community and feel has much appeal. The parks and galleries and museums are unparalleled, and there's as much in the way of concerts and festivals as most bigger cities.

My previous recommendation of Montreal was strictly based on the conference and event industry, which I work with quite regularly.

Indiana Jones

Montreal all the way!
I've lived in Toronto, NYC and Jerusalem and Montrel is by far the greatest city in the world. Wonderful architecture, great restaurants, easy to get around (even without a car), reasonable living costs. There's just an amazing feel that you get walking around Montreal that you don't get anywhere else.
I would think teh job markets are fairly similar but if you want to get into translation, I may think Montreal would be better. I know that there are quite a few companies (many of which my Toronto company uses) that just handles the French language components for Anglophone companies.
I'd recommend, though, that you jsut plan to spend a weekend in both cities, walk around a bit and get a feel for each of them. I know many people who adore Ottawa but, for my money, Montreal can't be topped. I'd like to end up there one day though my wife doesn't speak French so it may be tough for her.


Well, I'm prejudiced, Montrйal is the only place I'd live in North America. I don't hate Ottawa though, it has its charms and is a good place for outdoor activities - you could also consider living on the Quйbec side of the Ottawa river.

The job market can be tough here, but your experience in France will give you an edge. After Paris, you will find the cost of rents or mortgages in Montrйal absurdly low, although for us it has spiked in recent years.

After Paris, you will even find Montrйal small-townish (and Quйbec, while beautiful, depressingly mono-ethnic - Montrйal is a multicultural French-speaking city, in that way more like Paris. Don't get stuck in an anglophone part of town in the west end, in that case, you'd be better off in Toronto or Ottawa.

(I live near the Jean-Talon market).

Ottawa and Montrйal have almost identical temperatures. Montrйal is almost due east of Ottawa, and we get their weather a bit later on in the day. Both are much colder in winter than Toronto, to say nothing of Paris (where it never gets very cold, but can be grey and dreary in the winter). And can get considerably hotter in summer than Paris.

The mйtro and the more concentrated urban development are an advantage here, as you really, really don't need a car, and if you want to use one sometimes to run "heavy-duty" errands or for a weekend getaway you can join CommunAuto carsharing network.

On the other hand, Ottawa is closer to nature, especially the Gatineau Hills. Out of the city here, we are getting the same rings of crappy sprawl as elsewhere in North America.

Indiana Jones, why doesn't your wife study French? Even if you don't wind up moving here she will meet a lot of interesting people and expand her cultural horizons. After Jerusalem, one thing she would enjoy here is that there are many Sephardic people here as well (also the case in Paris).

martin dufresne

quote: could also consider living on the Quйbec side of the Ottawa river.

Ah yes, you haven't breathed until you've done so in Thurso!

[ 27 January 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]


I have a cousin who lives in Aylmer - now part of Gatineau. The old centre is very nice.

I'm a diehard urbanite, but different people like different types of places.


Thank you all for your very constructive, insightful comments. I especially liked Lagatta's helpful reply. Well ! Which shall it be? It sounds like Montreal's being favoured a little bit more and I can understand why. One thing I'm seeking is a sense of community because, frankly, it's nearly non-existant in Paris (not 100% but about 96%). I've lived for 8 years in the same neighbourhood and hardly anyone talks to you. Total indifference. It can be a very isolating experience. I'm flying to Montreal mid-March and sub-letting an apartment near Mile End for 2 weeks. Then going to Ottawa for a Job Fair on April 1st. I'll spend a few days there and walk around. My concern now is the fear of an American recession....


careful: March can still be slushy and lousy temperature-wise, while summer in Montreal can be absolutely fan-tas-tic, so check that out, too

re meeting people:
I had a French friend who had travelled extensively in Latin America, north Africa and of course throughout Europe, and he was flatly amazed when he repeatedly struck up conversations with people in Montreal on buses and elsewhere;
no comparison to the outwardly cold and detached French


Good luck with the decision. As a former Ottawa gal, I would urge you to choose Ottawa, though Montreal is equally as lovely.

Here is a [url=]t... that might help![/url]

[ 27 January 2008: Message edited by: jrose ]

Wilf Day

Montreal has such a cool Metro system, with[url=] each station designed by a different architect.[/url] For example,[url=] the Lasalle station [/url]won a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, but many others could have also done so.

While Ottawa has[url=] big clunking accordian style buses [/url]running on express busways.

If this is a metaphor for the two communities, perhaps your choice is clear.

On the other hand, [url= Montreal Gazette says near-hysteria is brewing over, once again, the decline of French in Montreal.[/url] Combined with the debates on "reasonable accomodation" of immigrants, are you possibly moving into a linguistic war zone? At least they'll be fighting over something you have real knowledge of. But which side are you on? Are you from Toronto or Paris? You're from both? Will such equivocation annoy both sides?

Lagatta will set me straight. I'm only asking.


Response to Wilf Day: I'll tell ya, Wilf....which side am I on? I'm on no side. I've become apolitical. After living in France one becomes extremely jaded towards politics, the current Societe Generale scandal being a perfect example. The first reaction from the street is that this is a massive cover-up. The mood in Paris this morning is intense curiosity mingled with extreme cynicism.


no, there is no need to decide anything like that ([i]What side am I on?[/i]):
I am Toronto-born and bred (high school, some college), but then became a fervent adopted Montrealer immediately, overnight, in my 20s;

as for the politics cited above, trust me on this: that is nothing, nothing;
only the newspapers are interested in problems; in real life, Montreal is a very happy, open place

welcome aboard!

[ 28 January 2008: Message edited by: Geneva ]


I'll agree with Geneva about that - there is absolutely no language crisis nowadays - it is a tempest in a teapot dreamt up by Le Journal de Montrйal and The Gazette to sell papers.

I know a lot of people in Paris (from cultural/academic stuff and left politics) so I am certainly not isolated when there, but in those very big cities, indeed there is not the kind of interaction one might find here. Don't think it is so much a matter of "the French" as even in smaller French cities I didn't find the type of anomie one finds in Paris (or other huge cities). That exists for people to be able to have a bubble around themselves in a highly-crowded urban environment.

Do remember that such "interaction" remains pretty superficial. Making close friends is not so easy anywhere, especially past university age.

Obviously I am keenly political, but it has nothing to do with any of the major political parties present in Toronto or Paris, and more with social movements. The Sociйtй gйnйrale scandal didn't surprise me in the slightest. Although I'm much to the left of the SP, I do think Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoй has taken some very positive initiatives, especially in terms of public transport and cycling.

Where did you live in Paris?



The big city amenities with a small-town community and feel has much appeal. The parks and galleries and museums are unparalleled, and there's as much in the way of concerts and festivals as most bigger cities.

It really is the best of both worlds. I don't think I ever stopped feeling like a tourist in Ottawa, and I mean that as a good thing. There was always a new exhibit to see at the National Gallery, or a new play at the NAC, or a new musical act rolling into town as a part of an Ottawa festival. Plus, being a stones-throw from the Gatineau Hills was always a bonus.


I have lived in both Montreal and Ottawa -- at very different stages of my life. That might also be a factor in your choice.

I lived in Montreal for most of my young -- and mostly single -- adulthood. It was exciting and fun and a wonderful adventure. I loved it.

I also loved Ottawa, several years later. We had a small child by then and there were so many things that the whole family could participate in and enjoy -- as well as a rich cultural and social life that is appropriate to our national capital [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

So perhaps some of your decision-making will come down to what kind of life you're looking for right now.


Yes, that is true. I'm not young by any means, but early on I made the firm decision that I did not want children.

The Ottawa area is very family-friendly, but I do know many people who have happily raised children here - children who become very independent and take the mйtro, and are used to having friends from many backgrounds.

But I also have many middle-aged friends who are deliberately childless, and probably have had more luck finding a chosen family than would be the case in a more family-oriented environment.


I moved to Ottawa for school, and have since decided to start my career and become a homeowner in Ottawa’s east end. I really really like the city; it has great opportunities (in the public service of course) a respectable enough night scene (it’s not Montreal or Toronto…but Elgin Street and the Market do offer a nice variety of restaurants, bars…etc).

There are lots of great festivals here in the summer, an amazing hockey team…

Housing on the Ottawa side is much pricier than in the Outaouais (taxes make up the difference). The area as a whole is very family and single friendly, just depends on where you want to hunker down. Public transportation in Ottawa is good – BUT it’s not what it could be…(see O-Train debacle…). But there are great schools, community centers, attractions…etc.

As far as mind set, the only bad thing I have to say about Ottawa is there are some residents who seem to equate Ottawa to being the same as London, Peterborough or Barrie…all wonderful cities, but Ottawa isn’t just an Ontarian city it is the federal capital. So the city is sometimes stuck on ridiculous debates.

When I stayed in Montrйal I found it to be lots of fun and very cosmopolitan. The Metro is great, the cafй’s and shops are great too. It’s a bigger city, so it offers what a bigger city has to offer…I think I would have loved living there two.

My suggestion is think about what you want in a city, focus on what you want and choose based on what the cities have (rather than what they don’t have).

The only people I know who really don’t like Ottawa are former Montrйalers. They go home too often to form new friendships in the city and then become discontent about what the city doesn’t have…anybody, who doesn’t have the luxury to “go home every weekend” ends up loving the city. And the funny thing about why those people don’t go back is “there is just too much opportunity here”.

Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.


Actually, I find public transport in Ottawa rather deplorable. If I'm not mistaken, both Toronto and Montrйal were no larger than the Ottawa/Gatineau area is nowadays when they built subway/mйtro systems. Except for the little patch of O-Train, there is nothing but buses (there used to be trams; tragically, the system was destroyed).

I don't think the nightlife is such a consideration for more people. Even people living in Paris or NYC don't go out clubbing every night - their rents are too high, for one thing - and we always wind up going to the same places to have a coffee, a glass or a casual supper.



Originally posted by lagatta:
[b]Actually, I find public transport in Ottawa rather deplorable. If I'm not mistaken, both Toronto and Montrйal were no larger than the Ottawa/Gatineau area is nowadays when they built subway/mйtro systems. Except for the little patch of O-Train, there is nothing but buses (there used to be trams; tragically, the system was destroyed).[/b]

“Deplorable” is a bit melodramatic…yes there is lots of room for improvement – it's just a lack of political leadership and political will to get a project that will work. Oh and the city is getting sued for canceling the old expansion plan. If you use the buses to get to and from work, the transitway gets you to where you are going pretty efficiently. I do yearn for a subway/train system (especially East-West!!) and a ring road (the 174-417 is the only way to get across the city by car…and that gets CONGESTED). Actually there is really a need for a greater Ottawa-Gatineau transit authority.

I agree that you end up going to the same places anyway…I just think there is enough variety that you will find the places you like going, as opposed to some towns where you literally have the choice made for you.

Anyhow, when I “lived” in Montreal, I stayed in both Le Plateau and in NDG. Taking the Metro in Le Plateau was no different than riding 95 across the downtown Ottawa…and the commute on the bus from Gloucester (and Orleans once upon a time) is actually a lot faster than my commute was on the Metro from NDG (even if the service was still great).

[url=]Ottawa does have a car culture though.[/url]


I should have mentioned above -- I intended to -- that I'm sure Montreal is also a fine place place for raising one's family. I have plenty of friends who did -- it just wasn't my own experience.

In Ottawa, we lived just west of Holland Ave. and didn't have a car. We walked for shopping, restaurants, entertainment etc. My husband took the transitway buses and got downtown in eight to ten minutes.

[ 28 January 2008: Message edited by: Sharon ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I was born at Ottawa's Civic Hospital, grew up in the Glebe, then Alta Vista, then Nepean, Kanata, then finally in Ottawa South, until I left the city permanently after quitting work at M&I to return to university. I'd love to return and take up residence in Ottawa [i]except[/i] that I find it too bloody hot in the summer, and my allergies always kick in severely throughout the whole Ottawa Valley. I'd have to have home a/c on six months of the year if I returned to Ottawa.

Wilf Day


Originally posted by lagatta:
[b]there is absolutely no language crisis nowadays.[/b]

Remarkably,[url= the Globe and Mail chose this morning's lead editorial to answer Lark08's question:[/url]


Today, Montreal is comparatively booming. The downtown core has been revitalized; space is once again a hot commodity. Federalists are living in relative harmony with sovereigntists. And if anglophones haven't returned, they have at least stopped leaving in droves. Yet it seems nationalist politicians and their allies are nostalgic for the angry 1990s. In the absence of another referendum -- a slim prospect with a federalist provincial government in power and support for sovereignty stagnant -- they appear determined to sow divisions another way.

The revival of Quebec's perennial language debates began last year, as part of the province's often unsettling "reasonable accommodation" debate. A couple of recent incidents have allowed it to pick up steam.

First, Le Journal de Montrйal dispatched a reporter to apply for retail jobs during the Christmas rush, posing as a unilingual anglophone. When 15 of 100 stores agreed to hire her, the tabloid splashed it across its front page. The Parti Quйbйcois took it from there. Its language critic, Pierre Curzi, along with Jean Dorion, president of the Montreal chapter of the Sociйtй St-Jean Baptiste, called for new restrictions to deter parents from sending their children to English-language daycare centres. PQ Leader Pauline Marois called for amendments to Bill 101 (the French Language Charter) to toughen the rules for small businesses. When Cultural Minister Christine St-Pierre indicated that the language law would be left as it is, hard-line nationalists managed to work themselves into a tizzy - most colourfully a group called the Young Patriots of Quebec, which protested by placing 101 pork tongues outside Ms. St-Pierre's riding office.

Then, last week, University of Montreal professor and demographic expert Marc Termote accused the provincial government of "blocking" the release of his report for the province's language watchdog agency on the decline of French-speaking residents in Montreal. This was all the incentive that Mario Dumont, demagogic leader of the Action Dйmocratique du Quйbec, needed to hop aboard his favourite hobby horse, the perils of immigration. While the Office quйbйcois de la langue franзaise said that it withheld the report pending last month's release of linguistic census data by Statistics Canada, and that Prof. Termote's research would be included in a broader language overview to be released in March, Mr. Dumont offered a different theory. The study, he suggested, had been withheld until after the government had rejected the ADQ's call for an immigration freeze and had raised its immigration targets.

As if that weren't enough, Bloc Quйbйcois Leader Gilles Duceppe got in on the act with some inflammatory rhetoric of his own. The federal labour code, he said, should be amended so that federally regulated companies in Quebec are subject to the same rules as those in Bill 101. Those federal politicians from Quebec who opposed such reforms, he pronounced, were "Uncle Toms."

It is understandable that, amid suggestions that within 10 years fewer than half of Montrealers will speak French at home, some Quebeckers are unnerved by the city's new face. But that does not give nationalist politicians licence to twist those concerns into a full-throttle backlash. The knee-jerk proposals put forward this month almost uniformly lack sense; it is especially unclear what tougher language laws for workplaces have to do with French being spoken in the home, which is most assuredly not the government's jurisdiction. These ideas are being put forward, it seems, solely so that the government can reject them - offering opposition politicians wedge issues, the social consequences be damned.

It is unfortunate that, as usual, Montreal is the target of this nationalist and (in Mr. Dumont's case) xenophobic fervour. The city's lustre only recently restored, largely by the newcomers Mr. Dumont disparages, the agitators seem determined to return it to the darkness of the last decade.


Originally posted by Boom Boom:
[b]I find it too bloody hot in the summer.[/b]

But in winter Ottawa has more snow than anywhere else in southern Ontario, doesn't it?

Which is great if you ski or just love snow.


Thanks again for your highly informative and helpful comments! I'm thoroughly enjoying reading them.

Thanks Wilf Day for the interesting Globe & Mail article; to Lagatta - I live in the centre of Paris in the 9th arrondissement, central but CONGESTED; to Guepe - I'm yearning for a sense of space, closeness to nature, less noise and air pollution and friendly, open faces. It's so crowded and noisy here (street noise caused by scooters and small, gearshift cars).

I had to laugh about the comments re hot summers and staying indoors where it's air-conditioned. Air-conditioning? What a luxury ! I've never worked in an air-conditioned office in Paris and my apartment has no A/C. The metro has no A/C. Last summer I had to buy a big fan for the office (the company didn't supply any). It was SO HOT my arms were sticking to the desk because of the sweat. Management supplied free bottles of mineral water to staff.

The summer of 2003 over 10,000 people died in the Paris region during the famous heatwave (mostly elderly people who lived alone in tiny flats, abandoned by their families). In the office building where I worked, the elevators had broken down because of the heat but we had to work anyway. At home all my wax candles melted. It was 41°C for 10 straight days. I'm so looking forward to living in an air-conditioned environment (even if it's non-eco friendly) during a heat wave.

Anyway, here's my next question : do you think that an imminent U.S. recession is looming and if so, how would it affect Canada's economy and job markets?



I don't know many people in Montrйal who have air conditioning at home - perhaps some rich people have it, but none of the people I know who live in typical triplexes.

It didn't use to get that hot in Paris - that is really an effect of climate change. Paris was always typically cooler than here in the summer - and milder in the winter - naturally air-conditioned by the sea that isn't so very far away (and no mountains in between). I actually experienced 40c heat in AMSTERDAM a couple of years ago, and LONDON and BERLIN were getting it too. That is utterly bonkers. It was a relief to get down to Italy - it was just as hot, but the buildings and surroundings were designed for it, with lots of shady places to sit.

But it would be impossible to afford at the cost of electricity per kwh in France. Which is much lower here, but of course we have to heat a lot more.

Yeah, the 9th is very congested. I was much happier up in Belleville in the 20th, above rue des Pyrennйes. There is always a nice breeze up there.

Don't expect such "open faces" - that is a bit of a myth. Sure, you don't get the deliberate closing off you get in huge cities like Paris here, but you con't get that fake US-style "friendliness" here either - and I wouldn't want it, it annoys me to hell. It usually involves obsequiousness among staff who have few employment rights (see WalMart)...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

When I moved to the Lower North Shore of Quebec in August 1995, I had to stay overnight in Montreal - and it was so hot that summer that the moving van I rented overheated, as did I. I very much doubt I could ever return to live in Montreal or Ottawa, because anythiong over 85F just kills me. Here, on the coast, it has never gone over 82F in the 13 years I've been here. On the other hand, the winters are really tough - December was the coldest on record, and last week it was -40 C/F every night, warming up just a bit in daytime. My ideal location would be a place where it never exceeds a high of 85F, and never exceeds a low of -10C. Is there such a place on earth? [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]


To Boom Boom - Geez...minus 40 degrees last week?? That must be rough. I thought those temps were more in the prairie provinces and that coastal temps were milder. A location where it never exceeds 85 nor lower than minus 10. Maybe the United Kingdom or Denmark? British Columbia?

To Lagatta - you're right, Paris didn't use to get that hot, that's for sure. It's definitely the effects of global warming. And yes, electricity costs are high here but also so many of the buildings are OLD that it's difficult to install A/C. The 20th arr. is pretty congested! I had a friend who lived high up in the 20th overlooking Pere Lachaise cemetary with a stunning view of Paris from her little balcony. It was nice.

You mentioned WalMart staff who have few employment rights.....this is completely off topic (does it matter?) but have you read Barbara Ehrenreich's book "Nickel and Dimed"? If not, I HIGHLY recommend it. She goes undercover and works as a waitress, a WalMart salesperson, cleaner, etc. and discovers low-wage America. She writes about millions of people who live at poverty level and how they survive. It's an eye-opener.


The 20th is congested - just about everywhere in Paris but the most bourgeois areas in the west is - but it is up high, at least where I was (above rue des Pyrennйes, between le parc des Buttes-Chaumont and Pиre-Lachaise) so there was always much more of a breeze than below the hill - I noticed a big difference when I went "into town" - into the city centre.

Most of the places you'd want to live in Montrйal are old too - a lot of it is of comparable age to many Parisian buildings outside the historic districts such as Le Marais, le Quartier latin, the 1st arrondissement... but it is less densely populated. Many central areas here used to be very densely populated indeed due to the huge families, but that is no longer the case given our baby bust, and they aren't built as densely as Parisian оlots. But our electricity rates are far lower (though as I said you will have to use far more kwh). That said, I can't encourage air conditioning unless there is a serious medical reason for it!

I've read Ehrenreich and the similar work done by Polly Toynbee in the UK.

Sean in Ottawa

I live in Ottawa. I really like this city and that it is so manageable. Public transit is not that bad- when you consider that the city is not that big. There are many things going for this city and it is beautiful. However, I have to count one of Ottawa's assets is its proximity to Montrйal which is my favourite city to visit even if I choose to stay here.

The only thing I would give as firm advice would be unless you want ot spend your life in transit, forget Toronto- I like to go there but am happier when I am on my way home. With Montrйal I never feel that way. If you choose either Montrйal or Ottawa you can visit the other easily.
As far as the Quйbec side of the Ottawa river, you should take advice only from people who have seen it recently. A lot of great work has been done in Gatineau in the last few years it has become a much more attractive city- I would choose the Hull sector though.



Originally posted by Sean in Ottawa:
The only thing I would give as firm advice would be unless you want ot spend your life in transit, forget Toronto- I like to go there but am happier when I am on my way home. With Montrйal I never feel that way. If you choose either Montrйal or Ottawa you can visit the other easily. [/b]

Personally I would choose Montreal over Ottawa, but I do want to respond to this comment. I think Toronto actually is one of the easier cities in which to live fairly close to work. Yes, lots of people commute - often so that they can own a single family dwelling - but there are a number of very liveable neighborhoods very close to downtown. Over the last 15 years I have lived in downtown Toronto exclusively and know many, many others who do too.


Don't worry, I won't return to Toronto. I'm a born and raised Torontonian but never liked that city, I was always leaving it !

OK, I'm gonna throw a curve ball into the Montreal / Ottawa quandary....

My number one objective is JOBS. I have to go where the work is. I'm concerned about a 2008 recession. Here's the question: should I go west??? I know that Western Canada will not suffer as much during an economic slowdown (but Ontario and Quebec will).

I've never been to Alberta in my life - in terms of employment, what's Calgary like? Or Vancouver?


Move to the North! The Northwest Territories!


Alberta and Vancouver won't make quite as much use of your billingualism as say Montreal, atleast in day to day life... But it's an often sought skill by employers there and there are few that can fill those needs.

I'll let someone else talk to Vancouver, but Calgary is still the oil boom town. There is an amazing number of corporate HQ's held within the downtown core and I think theres a pretty high need for people with your skills. That said, Calgary is now competing with Toronto and the like for living costs (housing especially)... Finding a place to live will probably present more of a challenge than finding a job.

If jobs/employment is a key drive... The internet would offer a pretty vast boone. Take a look at some of the job sites (, I think, is a collection of all the job postings put into any Canadian newspaper... Careerclick offered a similar service, but I think they merged).



Originally posted by Lark08:
[b]OK, I'm gonna throw a curve ball into the Montreal / Ottawa quandary....

My number one objective is JOBS. I have to go where the work is. I'm concerned about a 2008 recession. Here's the question: should I go west??? I know that Western Canada will not suffer as much during an economic slowdown (but Ontario and Quebec will).[/b]

For a skilled bilingual person...there is LOTS of work as an Assistant in Ottawa....soooo much need to worry about that. Lots and lots and lots of jobs in that field.

flight from kamakura

here's the lowdown.

if you're into good times, decent food, a "city" life, cute girls (or guys), intellectualism in general, random cultural events (say a lecture by christo or a free schoenberg recital), living in a historically significant area, discovering a place with a lot to discover, etc. go to montreal. no question.

if you want a job, a car, and a decent place to live, definitely, go to ottawa.

in effect, if you're a certain kind of person, there's almost nothing to do in ottawa but work, sleep and drink whiskey from the bottle. the town is as staid and banal as one could imagine. there are, however, loads of good-paying jobs, and an abundance of clean, bright, modern homes that fall within the price-range of those working in those good-paying jobs.

montreal is a different story. cheap (but increasingly less cheap) rents, loads of great stuff going on all the time, great (and very attractive) people - all that you could want from a city on the divertissement side (assuming you're not too familiar with new york or los angeles) that's montreal. the one huge issue issue is work. unless you're a creative genius, there's next to nothing good here for you. one can get little short terms jobs to keep it going until the big break, one can get something terrible for a while (at a cafe, for instance), and one can jump on into an office downtown on a temporary basis, but there's so much competition for so few quality jobs here that one's chances (as a non-quebecois) of finding that something interesting really aren't near what they are elsewhere (ottawa, for instance).

and just to note, vancouver and alberta are not options for homo intellectualis: alberta is the anti-cultural mecca; and vancouver is a reduced, reused and recycled santa monica.

[ 01 February 2008: Message edited by: flight from kamakura ]


Montreal is definitively more exciting than Ottawa although the anglophone parts of Montreal are great as well. Love the West Island regardless of what the some here have to say hehe! Some pretty friendly people live there as per my own experience.

Soooo many good restaurants here in Montreal and gourmet shops it's a wonder everyone is not obese in this city!!! Sooo many nice french pastry shops oooooh and good coffee ooooohhhh. Amazing food stuff here.

You speak french but even if someone didn't speak french you can get a low paying gig in Montreal and manage to live here. The rents are cheaper than Toronto but the well paying jobs are in Toronto as well.

I agree with lagatta that after living in Paris Montreal will seem small townish. (I was in paris for a few days once).
I felt exactly the same way after moving from Toronto back to Montreal - so small and small townish. Even the metro was sooo cramped and crowded compared to the spacious Toronto subways.

One day I would love to move to New York ... God New York is the ultimate cultural and financial mecca. You can smell the creativity on every street in New York it's hopping with mass chaotic creativity and a frenzied energy in the people - although quite pricey these days.
But big cities like Toronto and New York are chaotic and mad frenzied with activity which is why many Montrealers love Montreal ... it's not as fast, big, and hopping as truly big, rich powerful cities such as New York and Toronto are. Montreal's smaller and calmer. I prefer the mad crazy rush of big, big cities like New York and Toronto - I always get an adrenaline rush. There are pros and cons with living in every city really.

Calgary and Edmonton are also coming along as foodie destinations with up and coming cultural destination hotspots.

Terry Dimonte famous Montreal radio personality recently left for the greener pastures of Calgary. There are more opportunities in a young up and coming city.

And for sure you can smell the money in the air. Calgary is on fire with mad money. All those millionaires and billionaires need to be catered to with interesting restaurants, bookstores and entertainment districts. If you're an entrepreneurial type with some capital I'd imagine there are terrific business opportunities to set up your own business.

Alberta would be interesting places to live if only for a year or so what with its glorious outdoors.

[url= article quoting Theatre Network executive director Bradley Moss a former Montrealer who is now part of the cultural fabric in Alberta[/url]


However, Edmonton has a defining moment in the national spotlight this year as the 2007 Cultural Capital of Canada. Named for its achievements in the arts and culture, Festival City beat out Calgary, a contender for the title. The recognition comes with $3 million ($2 million from the feds, $1 million from the city) to enhance the considerable cultural riches of the Edmonton arts community.

Actually many people have air conditioners in Montreal. I do (and not the cheapo model either) and so do a bunch of my neighbours and we're not rich - we're middle class! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 01 February 2008: Message edited by: mary123 ]


I too used to commute everywhere in Toronto by walking and taking the bus and subways. Since moving to Montreal I take my car everywhere. The metro and buses are always too crowded here and I prefer the snug cocoon privacy of my car.

Yes a car is bad for the environment but, but, but .... I LOVE MY CAR so much!!!! It's my sweet guilty addiciton. I much prefer driving around scenic Montreal in a car rather than taking the bus and metro because it is much more relaxing.

[ 01 February 2008: Message edited by: mary123 ]



Originally posted by Lark08:
OK, I'm gonna throw a curve ball into the Montreal / Ottawa quandary....

My number one objective is JOBS. I have to go where the work is. I'm concerned about a 2008 recession. Here's the question: should I go west??? I know that Western Canada will not suffer as much during an economic slowdown (but Ontario and Quebec will).

I've never been to Alberta in my life - in terms of employment, what's Calgary like? Or Vancouver?[/b]

(At the risk of setting of a fire storm on this board)There are probably more job opportunities in Calgary, or elsewhere in Alberta during our "soft landing" then there are Quebec at the best of times. Real-estate prices did trend upwards rapidly last summer, but they are coming back down to earth now, especially with multi-family units and in communities outside of Calgary The rental market is still tight but a walk through a neighborhood you like will usually generate sufficient leads.

I love Alberta, hiking, swimming, cycling, live theater, indy music, festivals ...

Check out Alberta's public radio station [url=][/url]

(As far as being bilingual, there is lots of demand for second language skills, french is probably not the biggest asset though. If you know Mandarin, or Cantonese, or Vietnamese, or Spanish, or Korean, or Japaneses you will have lots of opportunities.)


We won't go into the car bit (I hate your car - nothing personal, I hate cars in general). One of the main advantages of living here is that one really does not need one of those things "qui tuent, qui puent et qui polluent". But we have lots of other threads on that topic.

I live within a short walk of Jean-Talon, Beaubien and Castelnau mйtro stations...

I suppose people in more suburban areas, and not just wealthy ones by any means, would be more likely to have air conditioning. The people I know in Longueuil do. Those I know in Outremont (an old, upscale area) don't. I have a huge tree in front of my balcony which provides natural a/c.

Oh, there are very nice predominantly anglophone areas of Montrйal - parts of NDG, for example. The point is that I'd think one would be just as well off moving to Toronto.

The suburbs on the West Island are getting quite mature, with large trees. At the very western point of the island, there is an adorable old village, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, which boasts the agricultural campus of McGill - John Abbott Cйgep is also there, and an important veterans' hospital. There is a commuter train, but it is relatively difficult to live carfree there.



Originally posted by lagatta:
Oh, there are very nice predominantly anglophone areas of Montrйal - parts of NDG, for example. The point is that I'd think one would be just as well off moving to Toronto.


Eh. I grew up in TMR. It felt nothing like Toronto.


contra Lagatta, if I returned to Montreal, I would likely live near the Metro, maybe a leafy part of town, and since NDG via the Villa Maria Metro gets you downtown fast and Monkland Ave. has some buzz these days, I would look there as a first option;
for me, nothing at all "like Toronto"

on the other hand, lived several years near Cote des Neiges, and it offers several of those advantages, plus a distinctly Montreal multiethnic atmosphere near a big campus and again the Metro

lots of fine places to choose from in that burg, for sure ...

as for the booming western cities, I am sure they are great, depending on your aims, but this thread really considers 2 options for a Paris-based translator in transition;
if she were in finance/administration, that might be another thing

[ 02 February 2008: Message edited by: Geneva ]


Guys - I love you all (I feel like I'm at a giant cocktail party) but chatting about leafy trees and air-conditioning isn't going to help me here (however, all of your previous comments have helped me enormously and I thank you.)

Am I being paranoid about a big economic recession looming or is it not an issue there? Is the news in France gloomier than elsewhere? No-one seems to be commenting on this eventuality....


re your economics/jobs question:

1/ no one knows;
some economists are paid big big bucks to forecast things and they often screw up;
2/ even if the US were to go into a deep recession (unlikely, I think), Canada does not follow exactly the US pattern any more.

I moved to New York in the early 1990s, just as a recession ending in the US, but it continued and continued in Canada throughout that dismal decade -- you could see the shabbiness in visiting the downtowns of several Canadian cities - until, starting in 1997, improving a lot ;

since then, unemployment in Canada has been cut in half (it was up to 12-13 per cent nationally in the '90s), and Canada has enjoyed a good decade, with joblessness steadily falling and the dollar surging

right now, unemployment is still relatively low, and, although the US is slowing down, Canada has resisted the American trend before;

all that to say: Who knows?
I live in France, too, and believe me, it's easier to get work, esp. part-time, in Canada than in Europe these days ....

do some advance job-hunting on-line, for example, via Workopolis or other job-hunting /CV site in Canada

good luck

[ 02 February 2008: Message edited by: Geneva ]


I agree with Geneva's comments above. Canada will likely be spared the economic recession that is likely to hit the US.

Canada's new money man Mark Carney says to Canadians concerned about the economy:
"Tell them not to worry – nothing's going to change, the 42-year-old former investment banker muttered"

From the big man himself ...

[url=]The word of the big guy ...[/url]