Place d’Armes is the second oldest public site in Montreal and was first developed in 1693. The area around the Maisonneuve Monument was under construction while the morning light was flooding in behind Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Montreal’s dramatic cathedral. This basilica has witnessed some important historic events: Pope John Paul II visited it in 1982, two important funerals were held here in 2000: one for Maurice “Rocket” Richard (a former Montreal Canadiens hockey superstar), and one for former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Even Celine Dion got married at this very church in 1994.
We headed north on Rue Saint Antoine to arrive at Old Montreal’s Place Jacques Cartier which was stretching out invitingly in the warm morning sun. The roof of Montreal’s City Hall was gleaming with brown copper – I was surprised to see that the old verdigris-green roof was gone.
On my little morning photo safari I covered some of the perennial favourites of Old Montreal: Rue de la Commune on the waterfront, the Bonsecours Market whose silver dome was gleaming in the sun, and the stunning Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel which dates back all the way to 1771.
Then I took a side street up to the Chateau Ramezay which is a historic governor’s mansion dating back to the early 1700s that has been turned into a museum. The garden behind the Chateau Ramezay is accessible free of charge and offers a serene green space in the middle of Vieux Montreal. I also snapped some pictures of the fountain beside city hall as well as of the view of downtown Montreal and Chinatown from the Champs de Mars area, whose archeological remains show evidence of Montreal’s fortifications.
Then we had a late breakfast on the Place Jacques Cartier which included a typical Quebec culinary specialty: poutine. (This combination of French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds is neither the healthiest nor the leanest dietary choice, but it’s simply delicious….) Finally I snapped some photos of the narrow Rue des Artistes, which was packed with artists displaying their paintings and shoppers browsing for unique pieces of art. I headed a bit further on Rue St. Paul which is a fully pedestrianized street during the summer months. It was great to see people walking in the middle of this cobble-stoned street.
Just before we made our way back to the subway to start our journey back to Toronto we admired some of the street performers and musicians on lively Place Jacques Cartier. From historic sights and architecture to great food, music, sports events and festivals – there is always something going on in Montreal…