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Bike Tour Offers Beer and Local Lore

Posted by Alanah / August 8, 2007

20070808_catpaw.gif The Stones and Beer bike tour is BYOB – Bring Your Own Bike, that is – the beer is included.

One of the benefits of a bike tour is that you don’t get any of the giddy tourists who would consider shopping at The Bay to be historically relevant. Almost all the cyclists who showed up for the tour last Sunday were long-time Montrealers and the group spanned a couple generations.

Tourguide Ingrid Birker, curator of McGill’s Redpath Museum, had no problem impressing the locals with little-known lore: she was overflowing with enthusiasm for everything from 500-million-year-old brachiopods to North America's first ski jump.

The Stones and Beer tour is kind of like getting your hands on a friend’s old yearbook and uncovering tons of juicy gossip (the city's original school, by the way, was housed in the stone towers on Sherbrooke and Fort). From an ancient native burial ground tucked under a tidy Westmount lawn to a downtown WWII crash site, the better you know Montreal, the more impressive it is to discover these well-kept (or long-forgotten) secrets.

My favourite discovery was one of the least grandiose: a spattering of cats' paw prints molded into the brick walls of McGill’s Faculty Club. Apparently these distinctive paw prints can be found in turn-of-the-century brickwork all over town – they are the enduring vestiges of a cat infestation at the brick-manufacturing site in La Prairie. I'll definitely be taking a closer look at red brick walls from now on – anybody know of other places you can spot 'em?

We caught the last rays of sunshine on the McAuslan Brewery’s canal-side terrace, where we enjoyed generous samples (ie: entire glasses) of six local brews while our lovely guide broke out a couple baguettes and hunks of delicious Quebecois cheese.

The next Stones and Beer tour is Thursday September 13th from 4-8.
Cost is $20 regular, $10 students or seniors – includes stuffing yourself with local cheese, chocolate and beer.

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