BougeBouge Tour Old Montreal Map

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Champ-de-Mars in the 1800s.

Champ-de-Mars

Let’s start the Bouge-Bouge Tour : Old Montreal Borough Ville-Marie!

On your right, there is a large space that was moved in 1740 called the Champ-de-mars. Like all fields of March in the world, this land was used for military maneuvers. The land was also a market between 1899 and 1920 and then a parking lot. At the end of the 80’s, archaeological digs were done and we found the foundations of the city’s fortifications! The lot has been a public space since 1992.

 

Head northwest, at the corner of Hotel-De-Ville and Saint-Antoine. Cross Saint-Antoine Street and climb the stairs in front of you.

The Town Hall in 1878

The Town Hall

Montreal City Hall was built between 1872 and 1878. Its architectural style is “Second Empire”.
It is the seat of the city council of the city of Montreal. It is also where the city hall is located. There is also at the entrance of the building a large hall of honor where receptions or exhibitions can be held.

In 1922, a fire almost completely destroyed the building which had to be rebuilt.

It was here that in 1967, General de Gaulle, then President of France, gave his famous speech which ended with : “Long live a free Quebec! ” 4 words that still resonate in Quebec culture.

Now cross Notre-Dame Street and continue south. I will join you right away!

Place Jacques-Cartier in 1930

Place Jacques-Cartier

Nowadays, Place Jacques-Cartier is a tourist attraction where you can find Quebec merchants, cartoonists and public entertainers in winter and summer.

 

If we go back to 1807, we find here a gigantic market and the place was then called Place du Marché. After the opening of the Bonsecours Market in 1847, the place took the name Place Jacques-Cartier and remained a market until 1960. The Place became pedestrian only in 1998 and it was in those years that many restaurants opened their doors in the old buildings that lined the square.

 

Continue south. Turn left on rue Saint-Paul.

The Bonsecours Market in the early 1900s

The Bonsecours Market

In the early 1800’s, at this location, he had a Hotel with Quai sur le Fleuve. The owner of this hotel was none other than John Molson, the famous beer brewer. In this hotel were held the meetings of the Beaver Club, a club of wealthy English-speaking businessmen. John Molson sold the land to the City of Montreal who made a deal in 1847.

A huge Grain Silo in the Port of Montreal.

The Old Port

The Old Port extends south of Old Montreal for more than two kilometers. Before being the Old Port, it was obviously the Port of Montreal which had its heyday in the 19th century during the great years of industrialization.

The Grand Quai (Quai Alexandra) still welcomes cruise ships.

The Grand Quai

The Grand Quai de Montréal, also known as the Alexandra Pier, is one of the docks where many boats used to moor at the time of the Port of Montreal.

 

A large terrace has been installed where you can admire the city of Montreal from an original angle as well as give you a privileged view of the majestic St. Lawrence River.

 

Under the Quay, there is a museum with an exhibition on maritime life.

 

If you have the time and your heart desires, come up on the Grand Quai to admire the view and you will be amazed. Then come back down. Head north, cross the rue de la Commune and walk back a few steps east to the rue de La place d’Youville.

Excavation work that uncovered the foundations of Fort Ville-MarieExcavation work that uncovered the foundations of Fort Ville-Marie

Pointe-à-Callière

It is right here at Pointe-à-Callière, under the museum of the same name, that Montreal was founded. In fact, some of the first foundations of Fort Ville-Marie, the city’s ancestor, were found fairly recently. You can see them in the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

 

The Place d’Youville street you are now walking down is the former St. Pierre River that flowed into the St. Lawrence River. Before the museum, on the point, there was the house of Sieur de Callière, governor of new France, hence the name Pointe-à-Callière. If you walk a little westward you will see the first well of the city and of Montreal and a little further on, an obelisk in memory of the very first Montrealers, those who were there when Montreal was founded.

 

Continue west on Place d’Youville.

The treaty of the Great Peace, signed by the Amerindian tribes

Grand Paix Place

You have been walking for a few minutes on the Place de la Grande Paix in Montreal. Where you are, there is a plaque commemorating this famous great peace. Indeed, it is here that in 1701 the representatives of about thirty Amerindian nations as well as the governor of New France, Sieur de Callières, signed a peace treaty. This treaty put an end to more than 100 years of conflict on the territory of New France, which extended from Acadia in New Brunswick to Mississippi in the United States.

 

The treaty, which lasted until the arrival of the English, allowed Aboriginal people of all nations to hunt in peace.

 

Continue westward and cross Saint-Pierre Street.

The Parliament Fire of 1849

The Old Parliament

In the 19th century in the place where you are now, there was the Saint-Anne market.

 

From 1844 to 1849, the Parliament of the Canadian government was installed in the market. At that time, Montreal was the capital of Canada.

 

The government sat there for only 5 years. In 1849, a group of English speaking merchants, frustrated by measures that helped French speaking commerce, set fire to Parliament. It was then moved to the Bonsecours Market for a few months, before being moved permanently to Ottawa.

Continue west to Mc Gill Street, turn right. Go north to Le Moyne Street. Turn right and head east to rue Sainte-Hélène.

The beautiful rue Sainte-Hélène, in the evening

Sainte-Hélène Street.

The special atmosphere of this street makes it one of the favorite places for film and TV crews. At the end of the 1800’s, there were about ten chic shops here and to impress the customers, the owners did not skimp on luxury and this gave a very beautiful and homogeneous street. Also, to reproduce the atmosphere of the beautiful years, 22 gas lanterns were installed here. This gives the street a more yellowish and diffuse light… as in the good old days. It’s worth coming in the evening!

 

Walk up Sainte-Hélène Street all the way to Notre-Dame Street. Turn right and continue to rue Saint-Pierre.

The Royal Bank has 28 floors.

Royal Bank Building

This building was inaugurated in 1928 and was the head office of the Royal Bank of Canada. At 28 stories and 121 metres in height, the building was under construction, not only the tallest building in Canada but in the entire British Empire.

 

The Royal Bank moved its offices to Place Ville-Marie in 1962. However, the building will keep the bank branch on the first floor until 2002. In 2016, the Crew Collectif opened a café on the impressive ATMs of the former bank and provided work and meeting spaces for freelance workers.

 

Continue east to Place d’Armes.

The two Notre-Dame Churchs

The two Notre-Dame Churchs

You are now on Place d’Armes which contains, in its center, a statue of Montreal’s founder Sieur de Maisonneuve.

 

On your left is the magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica, well known for having, among other things, celebrated the marriage of Celine Dion and René Angelil. It is the second largest church in Montreal after St. Joseph’s Oratory. Its two towers have names: The West Tower is called “Perseverance” and houses the big bumblebee and the East Tower is called “Temperance” and contains a carillon of 10 bells.

 

In front of the basilica you can see lighter slabs that form a silhouette, these slabs are reminiscent of the old Notre-Dame church that was located in the middle of the street of the same name. The old Notre-Dame church was still standing during the construction of the basilica. The old church was destroyed in 1830.

 

Still heading east, head towards Saint-Sulpice street. Turn right south to Le Royer Street.

La rue Saint-Paul dans les années 50

Saint-Paul

Saint-Paul Street is one of the oldest streets in Montreal. It is named after Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the city’s founder. In the 1700s, Saint-Paul Street was the most important commercial artery. In the 19th century, it was on this street that all of Montreal’s newspapers, both French and English, were printed.

 

Today it is one of the most popular streets for tourists, as evidenced by the many stores and restaurants that line it. Several art galleries are located along the street. I invite you to visit some of them!

 

Go east to St-Vincent street, turn left and go north to Notre-Dame street. I’ll probably stop in front of a few windows to admire some artwork, but I’ll be with you soon!

The very first Courthouse

The Courthouses

In the course of its history, Montreal has had four courthouses. All four were located on Notre-Dame Street. The very first building built in 1800 was destroyed by fire in 1844. The second was built on the same site. At 155 Notre-Dame Street (in front of you), this building is now known as the Laurent-Saulnier Building. The city uses it for its finance department.

 

The 3rd Palais de Justice is the Ernest-Cormier building next to you. It served as the main courthouse until the 1970s. Today it is the Court of Appeal.

 

Finally, the actual courthouse is located at 1 Notre-Dame street. You can admire this large modern tower at the corner of Saint-Laurent street.