Updated May 19, 2010
There are many guidebooks to Montreal and this is a look at only a small selection of them. These are books that go a step beyond the standard guides and look at the city from new perspectives or offer very good information in specific areas.
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One of the attractive Ulysse travel book series, locally produced in both English and French editions, the Montreal guide has a reliable, no-nonsense approach to the city, with maps, listings of restaurants, hotels and other lodgings, shopping areas, a historical backgrounder and an exhaustive general information section.
The heart of the book is a series of walking tours, starting with the tourist basics of Old Montreal and the downtown core, but – and this is the book’s great strength – going on to cover pretty much every other neighbourhood on the island. Even as a lifelong Montrealer I found plenty of interesting details here I hadn’t known before, and pointers to notable features in the less well-trodden neighbourhoods. Return visitors to the city might enjoy exploring Maisonneuve, Plateau Mont-Royal or Little Italy instead of seeing the standard sights over again, and this book will help guide them off the beaten path. Colour photos and line drawings.Cheap Thrills Montreal
Nancy Marrelli and Simon Dardick
Ninety restaurants offering dinners at $15 and under are listed in this indispensable guide to eating well and variously without maxing out the plastic. The book is arranged alphabetically, but there are handy cross-indexes that also classify restaurants by neighbourhood and regional cuisine so you can apply the search criteria of your choice.Zagat Montreal 2010
The Montreal edition of the New York-based Zagat series contains a quirky selection of restaurants and short but pertinent lists of bars and clubs, general city attractions and hotels, rated in a way that will be familiar to anyone who has seen any other Zagat production, but easily graspable even if you haven't. The book has the typical minimal Zagat design. A page of maps of the denser restaurant areas and some cross-indexed lists of restos by cuisine and location are useful features and it's very easy to find the top-rated establishments in every category.Downtown Montreal
Subtitled “An Opinionated Guide to the Downtown Squares, Churches, and Underground City” this little 80-page book is filled out with a few listings of bars, tourist bureaus and websites, but its chief charm is Hustak’s own eclectic knowledge of the history and development of the downtown core. It’s organized in several walking tours, each with specific directions and detailed commentary. The book is especially useful as a guide to Montreal’s famous underground city. There are black-and-white photos of buildings and vistas past and present, and several maps. A nice little book, small enough to pack alongside more generic guidebooks, and a pleasure for anyone with an interest in urban textures and history.Exploring Old Montreal
Véhicule Press 2002
from the Walking Tours series
Another “opinionated guide” by Alan Hustak, this 90-page book covers the oldest parts of Montreal in the same spirit as Hustak’s Downtown book. There’s a lot of interesting and curious data to be found here that illuminate the gray stone of Old Montreal with the gleam of history and legend. Photos both old and new, plus maps, website and restaurant listings.Montreal: The Unknown City
Kristian Gravenor and John David Gravenor
Arsenal Pulp Press 2002
This high-spirited book is the ultimate insider’s inside look at Montreal’s rakish history. The Gravenor brothers evict the skeletons from our collective closet and dance with them in the street. There are some maps and plenty of photos, but the chapters include items like Media and Entertainment and Notoriety in addition to other more standard guidebook fare. The book offers a densely packed selection of trivia, unofficial history, true crime, old scandals and urban legends, anecdotes about Montrealers famous and infamous, and useful lists like “What you can get away with” and “FLQ: Where Are They Now?” Plenty of illustrations and some strangely oriented maps. Kristian and J.D. also run the blog Coolopolis, which continues the theme of Montreal and its quirkier stories.Montreal's Best BYOB Restaurants 2009-2010
In Montreal there's a tradition that, while many restaurants have a liquor license, some restaurants prefer not to have one, and to allow customers to bring their own wine. This nice little 80-page book is a listing of apportez votre vin restaurants. It features sixty restaurants and has indexes listing them by alphabetical order, regional cuisine and neighbourhood. The entries are informative and descriptive but stop short of being all-out restaurant criticism.Exploring Montreal with Bikes
This slender volume contains a lot of useful information for anyone wanting to explore Montreal on two wheels. It describes some good rides around town, offers advice on commuting and approaches to getting across major obstacles like highways and canals, and describes various ways of getting off the island on your bike. Simple maps and a listing of bike shops are also useful inclusions. With a preface by Bicycle Bob Silverman. Not available on Amazon: you can order the book from the author's own website.Exploring Montreal with Kids
An impressive and exhaustive compilation of things you can do around Montreal with children, not necessarily activities only intended for kids. Active, passive, educational and entertaining possibilities are listed, with plenty of concrete details like schedules and fees for activities. Solid data like lists of city rinks, swimming pools and libraries bring together a lot of useful addresses and information that would take a fair bit of rummaging through web pages to compile. Not available on Amazon: you can order the book from the author's own website. This title is also available in a French version.