Travel back in time at Encounters in New France

Posted on May 17th, 2017 by .

Experience Montréal in the 1600s

Montréal’s public markets have always attracted crowds. But what were they like, centuries ago? The New France Market—known officialy as the marché de la Nouvelle-France—takes us back to the days of yore during the Encounters in New France, an activity at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum organized for Montréal’s 375th anniversary. Prepare for a complete immersion as you wander from one stall to the next, featuring animals, plants and other wares. It’s a great way to catch a glimpse of what life was like for locals and merchants living under the French regime. This special anniversary edition will take place from May 19 to 22, right where Montréal was first founded. And it’s free! Come and meet the characters who built our history.

More grandiose than ever

This year, the market site is three time bigger than in years past and the immersive experience will be happening for four days. To take you back through time, there will be actors in period costumes hailing visitors with long-forgotten expressions. Potters, gardeners, artisans, butchers, musicians, bakers and many other characters will be there to add to the market ambiance as it was for Montréal’s first residents. The 2017 program also includes entertainment, with music, First Nations and French dancing, historical re-enactments and military demonstrations.

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Prepare to get your hands dirty

In the Artisans Village, you’ll find more than 15 stalls featuring heritage trades. Visitors will have the chance to try preparing wood the traditional way or build a clay oven for baking bread. You can even learn to shear a sheep or say hello to barnyard animals.


 

Join the (French) military!

The market site is actually right on top of the vestiges of the first and second French guardhouses, where attentive guards kept a close watch on the comings and goings of city residents and visitors. For many of these soldiers, coming to New France was an opportunity to finally become a landowner. Through their work in the market, they were in regular contact with local farmers. During the Encounters event, visitors can visit a camp where two regiments will be staying, illustrating military life from the 17th and 18th century. You’ll be able to walk past the tents and chat with soldiers about their experiences. Demonstrations of period swords and muskets will keep you entertained, or if you’re feeling bold, you can even try fencing or handling a sword with help from an instructor. On guard!

First Nations in the spotlight

First Nations people would have been grouped together at the market, and they played an important role in local trade, selling or exchanging fish and meat (especially beaver meat) for textiles and metals. Visitors can stop by the First Nations camp and find out which animal hides were the most valued by the French. You can even learn how some of the animals are called in the various Aboriginal languages. It’s particularly interesting to see how trade between the Fist Nations people and citizens of New France influenced their respective attire.

The event is taking place around the museum at 350 Place Royale in Old Montréal. Check out the official website for more information about the event.

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