June 1, 2013

Family activities abound in Montreal


---- — MONTREAL — It’s time to celebrate the beginning of summer, and Montreal offers many options for family fun time.

Here are a few suggestions:


La Tohu, Montreal’s circus central, once again hosts the annual performance of the National Circus School of Canada.

This year’s graduating class presents “Swing Life,” a 1940s-inspired mix of music, dance and circus arts complete with swinging trapeze, aerial hoop, acrobatic bicycle and juggling.

The grads have spent years in training and are now off to join circus troupes all around the world.

“Swing Life” is presented now through June 9. Adult tickets range from $20 to $30. Children’s tickets range from $15 to $25.

At 2345 Jarry St. E. in the St. Michel neighborhood. Call (514) 376-8648 or

Then, mark the calendar for Montreal Completely Circus, a city-wide big top of circus-themed events and performances with many activities held at La Tohu. This year’s fest runs July 3 through 14. Visit


Does more knowledge equal less “ewww” factor? Maybe. Maybe not.

The Montreal Insectarium lets you get up close and personal with bugs of all kinds through a number of exhibits and activities.

“We are the Insects” explores why there are so many insects on the planet.

“Atta Ants” is a live viewing of leafcutter ants going about their daily gardening duties.

In fact, there are a dozen live insect collections in all — fuzzy tarantulas, noisy crickets and colorful beetles all present and accounted for. Don’t worry — they’re all well contained.

Later this summer, the Insectarium presents its annual Monarch Odyssey, where experts tag monarch butterflies before they set them free on their long migration back home to Mexico.

Tagging takes place at the Insectarium Aug. 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31 and Sept. 1 and 2 at 2:30 p.m.

At 4581 Sherbrooke St. E. Admission for both the Insectarium and the Botanical Garden costs $18.75 for adults, $17.50 for seniors, $14 for students (18 and older), $9.50 for youths 5 to 17, and $52.50 for a family (two adults, three children). Call (514) 872-1400 or visit


The Montreal Biosphere offers an interactive look at the world of water and the preservation of the St. Lawrence River ecosystem.

Best of all: admission is always free for children 17 and younger.

Current and new exhibitions include “ONE: Outfits from a New Era,” which showcases 16 outfits created from recycled consumer goods, including car parts, batteries, salmon skins, and electronic waste, and “Finding Balance,” which aims to find the equilibrium between people and the environment through 10 examples that show the impact that certain consumer choices are having on the environment.

Also open for the season is the Ecological House, an 800-square-foot eco-friendly domain that features a “green” roof, solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and a water-efficient toilet and shower head.

The house comes well-stocked with only eco-friendly cleaning products, and even the toilet paper is recycled.

An outdoor garden of clover and thyme uses minimal water and no pesticides.

The Biosphere is on Ile Ste. Helene of Jean Drapeau Park. Admission costs $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students over 18, and free for children 17 and under. Call (514) 283-5000 or visit


The Redpath Museum is Montreal’s natural history museum masterpiece. Here you’ll find displays that include minerals, gems and a few dinosaurs as well.

The museum hosts its summertime “Stones Walking Tour” and three of their popular “Stones and Beer Bike Tour.” Yes, even though the word “beer” appears in the title, the activity is family friendly for those 12 and older.

The walking tour investigates fossils, minerals and secret spots found in the walls of some of downtown Montreal’s nearby buildings. It’s held June 9 from 11 a.m. to noon. $12 for adults and $7 for students and children.

The bike tour explores local history, fossils, rocks, architecture, and building stones with stops along the way that include the Sulpicians reflecting pool at the Grand Seminary, the old Indian trail on Cote St. Antoine Road and the Glen to McAuslan Brewery for a beer or juice tasting. BYOB — bring your own bicycle.

The summer bike tour schedule includes a Father’s Day tour June 16, as well as July 14 and Aug. 18 from 4 to 8 p.m. The cost is $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and college students, $10 for children over 12. Reservations are required for all tours at (514) 398-4094.

The Redpath Museum is located on the campus of McGill University downtown at 859 Sherbrooke St. Visit

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at