In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 (a.k.a. Coronavirus), the Government of Canada suggests citizens practise good hygiene, social distancing. People are avoiding crowded places, avoiding physical contact like handshakes, using public transit on off-peak hours when they can’t avoid it and when possible, using food delivery services or shopping online.
Social distancing is an intervention that will stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, but if you are an active person after a few days of self-isolation you’ll probably get a bit stir crazy. This goes double if you have kids at home. But what can you do? You can get outside for fresh air, vitamin D and light other than the bluescreen of Netflix and social media. Getting outside can make a huge improvement in mental and physical health, as long as you are not in close contact with other people.
Below are some ways you can get outside while practising social distancing in the amazing city of Montreal.
*Note that at the time of publication, these options are still open to residents however the situation changes rapidly. Check with trusted local news and health agencies before venturing out*
Go for a Bike Ride
As the weather warms, everyone looks forward to getting outside. There’s no better way than to hop on your bicycle and visit some of Montreal’s 600 km of bicycle paths. The pathways are part of the provinces ‘Green Route’, the largest cycling network in North America. Many of the 4,300 km o Quebec trails are linked to offer hikers and cyclists plenty of options.
Take in the Graffiti Views
Montreal has graffiti to rival any country in the world. Lately, it has been made more popular with the iconic work capturing Montreal’s love for Leonard Cohen. Get outside for a social distancing walk and appreciate the spray paint masterpieces. You can find a great map to plan your walk from Mural Festival.
Visit Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park has great open spaces where you can walk, run, cycle or enjoy a picnic lunch. The 200-hectare park is at the heart of Montreal. Right in the middle of the bustling city, Mount Royal Parks gives you an escape from the world as nature provide unmatched beauty that will help calm anxiety and improve your mood. Take a visit to Beaver Lake. The small man-made lake offers a sculpture garden, and sprawling green areas for walking, biking and more.
Enjoy Scenic Outlooks
If you are going to Mount Royal Park, check out the stunning views of the city skyline from Observatoire de l’Est or the Belvédère Kondiaronk lookout. If you want to make a day of just viewing the cityscapes, it will take you around 30-40 minutes to walk from one to the other. It’s worth the walk because you’ll also get to see the 103-foot-high Cross that has marked the mountaintop since 1924.
Remember, it is a mountain so plan your trip accordingly.
Get in a stair workout
For those looking for something more physical, try a stair workout. There are two sets of stairs on Mount Royal that can be used for a workout. Trafalgar stairs can be found at the top of the entrance to the park from rue Peel and go up to Mount Royal Chalet. It can take around 45 minutes or more depending on your level of physical fitness. Be aware some parts of the stairs can be quite steep. The other set of stairs is at the end of Belvedere Camilien Houde lookout spot. At the top follow the path for a 20-30-minute walk to the top of the stairs that leads back down to rue Peel.
You can find a great trail map for Trafalgar stairs (6k distance and 107 metre elevation) here.
Stroll along the Old Port Quays
Enjoy a nice stroll along the 2.5 km pathway that follows the St. Lawrence River. You can walk, cycle or run along the docks and four quays with many nature spots to rest. There may not be the food trucks that usually cover this path, but you can still enjoy the historical clocktower (Tour de l’Horlage) at the northern end of ‘Quai l’Horlage’. A site to take in, the tower was built in 1922 to honour sailors who died in World War I and is a great viewing spot of the river and city.
Go Green on the Lachine Canal
All Parks Canada facilities are temporarily closed, all visitor services and all motor vehicle access by visitors are suspended until further notice.
Parks Canada is following the advice of public health experts and is implementing measures to support the Government of Canada’s efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and reduce risks to employees and visitors. Parks Canada is asking Canadians to support the national effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 by staying home. Anyone considering a visit to a Parks Canada location, including those in urban areas such as the Lachine Canal, should cancel their plans.
While pedestrian and bicycle access is still possible along the Lachine Canal, Parks Canada strongly recommends that Canadians limit their use of national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas at this time. Those who choose to access the path along the Lachine Canal for exercise must obey all signage and closures. They must follow the advice of public health experts on physical distancing. They must be conservative in their choices to avoid injury and minimize any need for emergency response. The Lachine Canal should however not be used as an area to socialize.
Originally built in 1825 to bypass the Lachine Rapids on the St Lawrence River, Lachine Canal is a great outdoor escape. With 14km of pathways, this is a great spot for cycling and walking to enjoy the outdoor green space. With so much green space it won’t be hard for you to find space to social distance on the Canal Lachine.