Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, which is Columbus Day for those on the south side of the border. That means no barrier in the calendar after Halloween before the long run-up to Christmas. In fact, when we stopped at La Baie in Montreal (or The Bay in English-speaking Canada), the interior of the department store that has evolved from the Hudson's Bay Company (established as a fur-trading monopoly in 1670) was fully decked for the holidays in all its glittery, sparkly glory. We were relieved that they were not yet playing Christmas carols. We can forgive them for rushing the season because the store has a gift for shoppers from other countries. Since the Canadian government no longer grants tax refunds to visitors for goods purchased in Canada, La Baie has taken it upon itself to offer visitors an automatic 15 percent discount on most purchases. In Montreal, the deal is only available at the flagship store in the downtown shopping district (585 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest). Visitors need only stop at the customer service desk on the main floor to pick up a card before they begin browsing. And, yes, we have to confess that we took advantage of the savings to start our Christmas shopping.
-- Patricia Harris & David Lyon
Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe