A Fact When Jacque Cartier First Went To New France Hello From Montreal: Exploring Montreal’s History With the Old Montreal Walking Tour

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Hello From Montreal: Exploring Montreal’s History With the Old Montreal Walking Tour

Every time I go to a new city, my adventurous and adventurous spirit boosts my energy and by 6:10 am I am wide awake. I read my guide book for a while and then went back to sleep, only to be woken up by a storm that flooded the city with heavy rain. So I got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and by 9:30 or so things were back to normal, just in time to explore the city. The Old Montreal Ghost Tour last night had already given me a glimpse of Montreal’s historic past and introduced me to some interesting people.

Five minutes from my hotel is the Place d’Armes, one of the most famous squares in Montreal. The old part of the city was still quiet, and I enjoyed walking peacefully along the cobbled streets. I headed to Montreal’s Tourist Information Office, located southwest of Rue Notre Dame and Place Jacques Cartier to pick up a map and ask various questions to the helpful staff.

Old Montreal in the morning has a European feel, with small restaurants just setting up shop and locals getting ready to go to work. The calm atmosphere is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle we are used to in our North American cities.

After a leisurely walk that made me admire the architecture and the narrow streets and alleys I returned to Place d’Armes where my Old Montreal Walking tour, provided by certified tour guides from Guidatour, will begin at 11:00 am. The meeting point was outside Notre-Dame Cathedral and our two tour guides were already waiting. Our English speaking group was handled by Louis while the French speaking group was handed over to another director, Bruno.

Eleven of us tourists gathered around Louis and in his beautiful French but perfect English he began to teach us about the history and architecture of Old Montreal, adding a subtle joke. Naturally our tour began with the Basilica of Notre Dame, perhaps the most visited building in Montreal. Louis took us inside the church and we found out that the C$15 admission ticket for the tour is the $4 that the Basilica charges for admission.

The Church of Notre Dame is a Gothic Revival church, wonderfully designed by the Irish-American Protestant architect James O’Donnell who also designed churches in New York City, and was built between 1824 and 1829. In addition to the wonderful Gothic Revival, Notre Dame has a stunning interior, with a deep blue ceiling decorated with golden stars. It is one of the strangest churches I have ever seen and the scenery is amazing.

Louis explained to us that for about Can$2000 you can get married in this church, but apparently there is a two-year waiting list. Celebrities like Quebecois singer Celine Dion and hockey great Mario Lemieux got married here. Notre-Dame Basilica was also the home of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canada’s most famous minister. Then Louis took us to the side chapel to the wedding chapel, called “La Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur” which unfortunately was badly damaged by fire in 1978. Much of the wood has been rebuilt in a modern way. , but the temple is still an interesting place.

After our first description of Montreal’s architecture we walked west just a few steps on Rue Notre-Dame and saw Montreal’s oldest building: the Old Seminary or “Vieux Séminaire Saint-Sulpice”. This building, built in 1683 by the Sulpian priests, was a place of storage where the priests looked after their great estates. In the early years of Montreal’s history, the citizens of the town faced frequent attacks by the Iroquois, and the Old Seminary represented a place of refuge in what was once a desert. This famous public clock was founded in 1701 and is one of the oldest timekeepers in all of North America.

Then we stopped to see the Place d’Armes, right in front of the Cathedral, so called because it used to be a place for soldiers and religious protestors. The Place d’Armes is a veritable series of historical events. The New York Insurance Building, which opened in 1888, was the first building to install the newly invented elevator, which at the time was the tallest building in Montreal. The Hotel Place d’Armes to the north, originally five stories high, had three rooms added after the building was renovated with an elevator.

The Aldred Building is a fine example of Art Deco skyscraper architecture and for many years was the tallest building in Montreal. Louis rightly named the skysraper design as his signature wedding style. The center of the Place d’Armes is dominated by a statue of Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maissoneuve, who founded Montreal in 1642.

The northern end of the Place d’Armes has another architectural marvel: the Bank of Montreal building. Founded in 1817 as Canada’s first bank, the Bank of Montreal decided to build an impressive headquarters in 1847 with a neoclassical exterior inspired by the Roman Pantheon. The interior was remodeled in 1904 to 1905 by the famous New York firm of McKim, Mead and White with a beautiful banking hall modeled after a Roman church.

Going west to St. James Street (or rue St-Jacques), Louis explained that this place was the commercial center of Canada in the 1800s. Many Canadian banks had their headquarters here until they were moved to the city of Montreal or later to Toronto. Railway and freight companies also had their offices here, many of them founded by people from Scotland.

The mix of architecture on rue St-Jacques is impressive and Louis described one example that has recently been repaired and restored as St. James Hotel is a luxury hotel. This luxury hotel has a lounge that you can rent for $5000 per night (in low season) and is a popular celebrity lounge. To name just one example, Madonna just stayed in St. James recently at the end of June during his Montreal concert.

Another very interesting architectural gem appeared: the old Royal Bank office, whose work began in 1928 according to the design of the famous New York skyscrapers York and Sawyer. For a long time this building was the largest in the British Empire. The structure is decorated with a Florentine palazzo and the impressive ceiling of the Great Hall is decorated with eight of Canada’s ten provinces.

Unfortunately no photography was allowed in the Bank of Montreal or the Royal Bank buildings, but they are wonderful examples of architecture from different ages. Louis then took us through the narrow streets of Old Montreal towards the city’s waterfront and the birthplace of the city. As a major port town and shipping center, many buildings in Old Montreal were warehouses with large windows to let in most of the daylight. This was in order to reduce the risk of fire that would have started due to artificial lighting at the time, endangering the valuables that these buildings stored.

I asked Louis a lot of questions about the architecture and history of Montreal. His architectural knowledge was impressive, and when comparing architectural styles, he was referring to many famous buildings in other cities such as New York City, Toronto, Boston and Chicago. He said that many old buildings were demolished in Montreal in the 1960s as in many other cities in North America, but fortunately the preservation movement gained strength and today all of Old Montreal is protected.

Old Montreal suffered for several decades after many events moved to the village, but in the last forty years Vieux Montréal has experienced a revival that began with the great international event Expo 67. Today, many of these old warehouses have been rebuilt. converted to luxury condos and Louis told me that even a small studio apartment would cost at least half a million dollars. Old Montreal has successfully transitioned from a former commercial area to a tourist, entertainment and residential area.

Closer to the beach we came to Place d’Youville, a secluded area on the old Rivière Saint-Pierre which was dammed in the 1830s and eventually covered and completely dried up. The History Center of Montreal is a former fire station and a rare example of Flemish architecture in Quebec.

Just a few steps east is the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History in Pointe-à-Callière. It is very rare to know where a city was founded, but Montrealers know very well where their city began: on a narrow strip of land between St. Lawrence and the Saint-Pierre River. There the first settlers built Fort Ville-Marie, using earth and wooden posts. In fact, on May 17, 1642, Father Vimont held a ceremony to celebrate the founding of Montréal, which was attended by Sieur de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and other colonists.

Today, the museum has six buildings and introduces visitors to the history of the city in a completely new way. There are even archaeologists here, getting more information about the history of the city. Various festivals including a multi-cultural festival and a market week are also held in Pointe-à-Callière.

Our route led us back to Notre Dame Street. The old Palais de Justice, built between 1849 and 1856, is a fine example of Canadian neoclassicism. Today the building houses the Court of Appeal of Quebec. Across the street is the Ernst Cormier Building, which opened in 1926 and is named after the famous architect who also designed the main campus of the Université de Montreal and the doors of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Our tour through Old Montreal fittingly ended at Place Jacques-Cartier, Old Montreal’s most iconic ski area. Many restaurants with outdoor rooms line both sides of the square and in the center are various wooden stalls selling flowers, art and souvenirs. The north end of the square is overlooked by a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who gazes curiously out over the port of Montreal. This statue is a testament to the power of British merchants who wanted to commemorate Britain’s defeat of the French and Spanish ships at the Battle of Trafalgar.

At the northeast end of Place Jacques Cartier is the site of Montreal’s City Hall, built in the Second Empire Style and opened in 1878. A fire destroyed the roof and interior of the building in 1922 and the roof was rebuilt in 1926 along the lines of the building. city ​​hall in Tours, France. Today, Montreal’s City Hall is still in this old building.

Jacques-Cartier’s place was the perfect place to end our tour of Old Montreal and everyone in the group thanked Louis profusely for sharing his local knowledge. By this time it was almost 1 o’clock in the morning, and my stomach was telling me the time: lunch at the Café du Chateau.

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