Built in 1705, the Chateau Ramezay, is a beautiful grey stone building in Old Montreal is the oldest private history museum in Quebec. Built in 1705, it was the home of Governor Claude de Ramezay, a classically elegant structure with solid, thick walls and a beautiful garden.
A multimedia presentation shows Montreal’s daily life in the 18th century. At that time, the Governor’s Garden served as a private ‘market’, with vegetables, fruits and herbs supplying food for the household. Today the Jardin du Gouverneur has been restored, and is just behind the Château. Wander in, walk around. It’s free, and will take you back in time.
Set in a formal French style, the garden is divided into an orchard, kitchen (herbs and vegetables) and pleasure gardens. Its design reproduces the spirit of the private gardens of New France’s elite in the 18th century. Elegantly trimmed hedges frame a ‘cutting garden’, from which flowers can be cut for decoration – hence the ‘pleasure garden’. Veggies grow, clamber and climb in the well-tended kitchen garden, where ‘companion planting’means that certain plants are grown beside others in order to hinder insects and disease. For example, garlic next to roses repels aphids and aster flowers around asparagus discourages pests.
I love having lunch on the terrace overlooking this garden and listen to the fountain’s soft gurgle as the day drips away. Guided tours of the garden and workshop activities are available all summer-long.
Château Ramezay 280 Notre Dame East 514-861-3708 Free entry. Metro Champs des Mars Tuesdays – Sundays 10 – 4:30 pm Terrasse open Tuesday – Friday 12 – 3:00 pm www.chateauramezay.qc.ca
DON’T GO AWAY! Right beside the Château Ramezay, and off Place Jacques Cartier, is De La Dauversière Square, an amazing little park. Who is he you ask? This Jesuit (first name Jérôme) sponsored de Maisonneuve to establish a colony called Ville Marie which became – Montreal. Three hundred years or so ago, there was a wilderness to conquer. The formality of a French garden was seen, at the time, as a triumph over this rough country: order over disorder. Architect Philippe Nolet took these elements as inspiration when designing Timber Parterre, his installation in De La Dauversière Square. Using logs cut from the forest, and placing them upright in tight formations, he created curved ‘benches’. There is an ordered symmetry to the logs , which are carefully placed in curving formations amidst high wild grasses. People love to sit and relax as they munch their lunch, or simply rest. Nolet knows quite a bit about garden design. He worked on one of the Reford Gardens projects in Padua, Italy. De La Dauversière Square. Notre Dame Street East beside Place Jacques Cartier