Dec 7, 2015

Visiting Montreal

In 1535 Jacques Cartier, the French explorer searching for a route to Asia, sailed into the St. Lawrence River but it wasn’t until 1609 that Samuel de Champlain established a trading post in what is now called Old Montreal making him the founder of New France. 

The best and quickest way to get to know Montreal is on a Grayline hop-on hop-off tour.  The tour hits all the highlights along with an informative narration.  John and I usually take one complete loop and then decided what venues we want to visit.  There is never enough time to do everything.  

The Lachine Canal was built about the same time as the Erie Canal.
The name comes from what was hoped to be a way to China. Today it is a recreation area and national park. Nearby we wander through the Atwater market and then the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. It was once a walled city but there is no evidence of
it today however at the World Trade Center there is a reddish line in the floor that represents the location of the wall.  The World Trade Center, an interesting mix of old and new architecture, is a wonderful indoor area for shopping and dining.  The beautiful Amphitrite Fountain is now part of the atrium away from the elements.  

The 18th century Chateau Ramezay was a residence and is now a
museum with a beautiful garden. It has an interesting connection to the American Revolution. It is where in 1775 it was the Canadian headquarters of the Continental Army. In 1776 emissaries from the Continental Congress that included Benjamin Franklin stayed trying to raise troops and support for the Revolutionary War. He brought a printer with him who stayed on and started a newspaper that became the Montreal Gazette that today is the city’s only English language newspaper.
The silver dome of the Marche Bonsecours is hard to miss. It has served many purposes over the years. Today it houses shops where nearly all the items are Canadian made, art, restaurants, and a textile/fashion museum.  Nearby is the Notre-Dame-de- Bon-Secours Chapel one of Montreal’s oldest churches and another place to learn about Montreal’s early history and about Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys.  

Not to miss is the birthplace of Montreal, the Pointe-a-Calliere. The
museum incorporates the archaeological ruins where it covers 1000 years of history. We saw sites where the First People camped and remnants of each era of the city’s history. There is a walkway through a vaulted stone tunnel where the Little Saint-Pierre River once flowed and then turned into a
sewer.  I saw a notice that they were preparing part of it so they can take visitors on a sewer tour – sounds fascinating. There was so much to see and learn that we only spent a few minutes at the “Pirates or Privateers” permanent exhibit. There is a great view of the city from the top level. 

Another place for a great view all the way to the Olympic site is a stop on the Grayline tour on Mont Royal’s Belvedere.  The Mont Royal Park was designed by Frederick Olmstead of NYC’s Central Park fame. 

One evening we opted to do something a bit different. We went to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for an organ recital. Famed French organist, Jean Guillou played to a full house. A great end to the day.