The streets of Canada's neighbourhoods are the arteries of our communities. The shops, people and experiences that occur on them define our societies. When Vacay.ca set out to find the best streets in the country we did it with a sense of exploration and authentic experience in mind.
Neither Toronto's Yonge Street or Montreal's Rue Saint-Catherine -- arguably the two most famous streets in the nation -- placed on the list of the top 20 streets in Canada. Both of those thoroughfares have long ago lost out to corporate commerce. A walk along their main stretches isn't distinct.
The streets on the Vacay.ca list are the best places for you to spend your time and dollars when touring the country's urban centres. While some choices were difficult, top spot turned out to be an easy decision. Rue du Petit-Champlain, lined with shops that belong to an artists' cooperative, was a clear choice for No.1 among the Top 20 Streets to Visit in Canada.
1. Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: One of the most historic streets in Canada is quite likely the nation's prettiest. A home to artisans, a centuries-old church, the famed breakneck staircase, and boutique shops, rue de Petit Champlain offers a touch of the past and all the present charm of contemporary Quebec City.
Top Attraction: The mural that depicts landmark moment's in the street's history (102 rue du Petit-Champlain). The mural is outside the building that is home to the Petit Champlain Quarter's many artists.
Where to Shop: There are a handful of boutiques and galleries on the tiny street. Drop in on Boutique Ibiza (57 Du Petit Champlain) for clothes and jewelry.
Hidden Gem: Sculptor Alain Flamand has had his lower-level shop (49 Du Petit Champlain) on the street since 1985, soon after the Quartier Petit-Champlain's artists' cooperative was founded.
Historic Event: An 1841 landslide killed 20 people and a memorial to the disaster still occupies the street.
Vacay.ca Columnist Adrian Brijbassi writes: "The street has boutique shops, artisan galleries, and restaurants, as well as a 200-seat theatre within centuries-old stone walls, a mural that depicts different stages of the city's history, and a touching memorial to the 20 victims of an 1841 landslide that saw shale from the hill above tumble down 300 feet."
2. Saint Laurent Boulevard between Rue Sherbrooke and Rue Saint Viateur, Montreal, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: The epicentre of Montreal's famed music scene is here, at clubs like Casa del Popolo (4873 Saint Laurent Boulevard) and Green Room (5386 Saint Laurent Boulevard) that run along The Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods. It's also home to trendy shops and is in the vicinity of Montreal's two famous bagel shops -- St. Viateur (263 Saint Viateur West) and Fairmount (74 Fairmount Avenue West) -- and Dieu du Ciel's brewpub (29 Laurier Avenue West), the No. 3 brewpub in Canada, according to Vacay.ca. Saint Laurent Boulevard is often called "The Main" because it is recognized as the divider between Montreal's east and west sides.
Top Attraction: Mount Royal Park is a short walk west of Saint-Laurent Boulevard. On the street, Schwartz's Deli (3895 Saint Laurent Boulevard) sees lineups that stretch out the door on most days.
Where to Eat:Pastaga (6389 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) ranked No. 13 and Lawrence (5201 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) ranked No. 27 on the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide. Pastaga is headed by Gold Medal Awards-winning chef Martin Juneau and serves superb Quebec dishes. Lawrence serves contemporary British cuisine and is best known for its brunch.
Hidden Gem:La Sala Rossa (4848 Saint Laurent Boulevard), next door to Casa del Popolo and partnered with that venue, is another excellent music hall that features numerous emerging acts.
Historic Event: Jewish settlement of The Plateau and Mile End in the early 1900s led to greater multiculturalism in this section of Montreal that's been designated a National Historic Site.
Chef Martin Juneau of Pastaga says: "Saint-Laurent Boulevard is where the real Montreal happens. It is called Main Street. It divides east from west, French from English. You say Saint-Laurent and everyone in Montreal knows it is the important part of town, it is what helps to define the city."
3. Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Why This Street Rocks: History, ghosts, and some of the best party atmosphere in the country.
Top Attraction: St. Paul's Anglican Church (1749 Argyle Street) opened in 1750 and was the first Anglican cathedral outside of Britain. Of note is a wooden window frame that was launched into the church by the 1917 Halifax Explosion.
Where to Eat and Drink:Economy Shoe Shop (1665 Argyle Street) packs in the student crowd, but Pipa (1685 Argyle Street) is the choice for fine dining, with a menu that features Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine. Venture just off the street to Chives (1537 Barrington Street), the No.1-ranked Halifax restaurant on the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list.
Hidden Gem:The Nova Centre. It's hidden only because it hasn't been built yet. The project, which includes a luxury hotel and massive convention centre, will rapidly transform Argyle Street and the vicinity in the city's financial core.
Historic Event: Bodies recovered from the Titanic disaster in 1912 were taken to the funeral home on Argyle Street in a building that is now home to the Five Fishermen Restaurant (1740 Argyle Street). Ghost sightings aplenty occur inside the eatery, considered by many paranormal experts to be the most haunted property in Canada.
Vacay.ca Writer Katie Marti writes: For a microcosmic look at Halifax, head straight to Argyle Street, where the city's entertainment and financial districts intersect. The nachos at the Economy Shoe Shop should be enough to draw a crowd, but two convention centres, a luxury hotel, pubs, clubs and a top-notch seafood restaurant make Argyle the go-to street for all things Halifax.
To see the entire Top 20 Streets In Canada list, click here.
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