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Downtime: November 2013

Where to take a break around town in Montreal and Toronto.

Toronto: Two Bits

by Chris Johns

Where: Garrison’s By the Park Barbershop, on Queen West, across from Trinity Bellwoods Park

When: Monday to Wednesday and Saturday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Cost: A shave and a haircut, $60; takes about an hour

Garrison’s By the Park BarbershopPhoto by Dan Ehrenworth

You might find off-duty chefs comparing tattoos with the barbers while waiting for their trims, or house mascot Myrtle, a Boston terrier–French bulldog blend, napping in her bed, unfazed by the rockabilly soundtrack. Framed tintype photos fill the walls, while a pew salvaged from an old church is flanked by Eames bucket seats. Welcome to the retro-modern barbershop where the chairs are vintage and the razors are straight. A luxurious shave starts with a meditative session under steaming-hot towels, and haircuts also make good use of razors to create a personalized fade. Locally made products by the Crown Shaving Co. keep every hair in place long after you leave the chair.

907 Queen St. W., second floor, 416-703-8602,

Montreal: Tea-Off

by Manori Ravindran

Where: Camellia Sinensis Tea School

When: Nov. 2 and 30, 2 p.m. (workshops pairing tea with chocolate); Nov. 8, 7 p.m. (cheese); Nov. 15, 7 p.m. (Scotch)

Cost: $35–$45 for two hours, advance reservations needed

Camellia Sinensis Tea SchoolPhoto by Camellia Sinensis

Since opening 15 years ago as a cozy tea house in the Latin Quarter, Camellia Sinensis has become a worldwide importer of top-tier teas, from aged Taiwanese oolong to white Darjeeling buds to Quebec tisanes. The Tea School, just doors from the original salon, offers bilingual tasting sessions along with lessons in history and infusion techniques. Pairing workshops bring together premium teas with some of life's finest pleasures – Scotch, chocolate and, for the first time this month, cheese. The results can be surprising: The velvety texture of Chinese black tea Feng Huang Hong Cha, says co-owner Kevin Gascoyne, sits perfectly with a 16-year-old Glenlivet Scotch. The best kind of steep learning curve.

351, rue Émery, 514-286-4002,



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