July 30, 2013 ─ In the heart of Old Montréal, history comes to life between the walls of the family home of a politician who had a lasting influence on our country. When you set foot inside the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic site, you’ll be transported into the warmth and intimacy of an opulent bourgeois residence, offering the only Victorian-style interior open to the public in Montréal.
A Little history
In spite of what you may think, George-Étienne Cartier (1814-1873) had no family ties to the explorer Jacques Cartier, but his political career and his participation in many of the pivotal moments of Canadian history earned him the distinction of baronet and the honorary title of “Sir”, given by Queen Victoria herself. This lawyer, businessman and politician is recognized as one of the Fathers of the Canadian Confederation.
First opened in 1985, the national historic site encompasses the semi-detached, neoclassical-style houses successively acquired by Cartier. An adjoining passage connects the two structures. The plush décor, carefully restored according to the tastes and customs of the Montréal bourgeoisie of the 1860s, testifies to the lively spirit that characterized this segment of society at a time of great change. In many parts of the residence, soundtracks shedding light on the private lives of its occupants can be heard. It’s almost as if the walls themselves were speaking…
As entertaining as they are enriching, activities by spirited guides in period costumes help recreate the atmosphere that was typical of bourgeois francophone Montréal households in the second half of the 19th century. During the summer, fall and end-of-year holidays, a series of original activities—for example, etiquette lessons, Victorian Christmas festivities, and “help wanted” ads provide the opportunity to be immersed in the daily lives of both masters and their servants and to better know the illustrious man that was Sir George-Étienne Cartier.
A visit to this national historic site is a great way to go back in time and polish up on your history!