Re: Tech Writing In Montreal

Subject: Re: Tech Writing In Montreal
From: Stephen Martin <stpats -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 21:28:00 -0400

I've had two short-term contracts in Montreal, the first was January to
April '97, with bell Sygma, and the second was June to mid-November of
last year.

For the first contract, I'd just finished paying my wife's tuition for
her final year of University to get her B.A. (English), and we had two
months left on our apartment lease, so I sublet a bachelor in Montreal
and went home to Ottawa every second (more or less) weekend. This was
my first contract job, my first real Tech Writing job, and coming after
a couple of months of unemployment after having been downsized out of my
last full-time permanent position,

My apartment (at the Chateau Lincoln, which features a weight/workout
room, sauna, and rooftop swimming pool, located on Lincoln St. near the
old Sir George William College) was about two blocks away from the
nearest Metro (subway) stop. The weather was mild enough that I went to
work every day wearing a short sleeved silk shirt and a light jacket,
the subway let me off in the basement of my office building (1000 de la

In fact, the only time that we experienced any bad weather was when the
snow storms would start up around noon on the Friday, and *only* on the
Friday, that I'd be heading back home to Ottawa.

As soon as I arrived in Montreal I fell in love with the place, and felt
as though I had found my true home. I never had a problem with being a
unilingual anglophone, and I always found the people to be friendly, and
the atmosphere quite relaxed.

For my second contract, the company was paying for my travel and
accomodation, and found me an apartment-hotel on Sherbrooke St.
($1000/month with maid service), about a 15 minute walk from my
employers ( offices, right across the street from the main
gates of McGill University. Again, all of the same feelings and
experiences came to me.

Since it was only supposed to be a three month contract, and we had nine
months to go on our townhouse lease, my wife and son stayed in Ottawa,
driving each other insane (he'll be 25 months on the 11th), and I went
home on the weekends. A lot of people expected that I'd have a lot of
trouble because of the French, and the separatist attitude, but I think
that it spoke more about their own petty bigotry than the reality of the

Of course my wife and I are bigtime poets, we both used to produce our
own magazines, and fans of Leonard Cohen, and Irving Layton (his
mentor), both of whom are Montreal born and bred, so Montreal already
held a mystique for us.

At the end of the three months the company wanted to renew my contract
until the end of the year, at which time they'd have their new budget
and intended to hire me on a permanent basis.

In September, however, the manager of the apartment-hotel had left/been
dismissed from his job, and didn't return all of the keys, claiming to
have lost them. Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about this until
after arriving back in Montreal after the long weekend and 'finding' my
computer, software, razor, cds, etc. had vanished. That was my only
negative experience.

When we renewed the contract, they gave me more money in return for my
taking over care for my accomodation and travel expenses, and so I found
a cheaper ($350/month, no maid service), apartment in the McGill student
ghetto, about a 5-10 minute walk from work.

In the end, the project that Sita had wanted me to work on didn't
materialize after a month and half of sitting at my desk twiddling my
thumbs, so I decided that I'd rather be poor, sitting at home with my
son and twiddling my thumbs, then employed and away from my family, so
we ended the contract early.

Geoff Hart should probably be able to tell you a lot about Montreal as
well. I believe he works in the area.

Bob Goulder wrote:

> I have been offered a long term contract position in Montreal. I would like
> opinions on what it is like to exist there.

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