One Ticket for First-Class Time Travel Please!
Have you ever had an interest in time travel? Then you might just be interested in knowing that it’s possible to travel back 350 years. Yes, it’s true! And only in a couple of short hours.
Well, all it requires is a sense of curiosity and a plane ticket to a certain French Canadian city.
When it comes to North American destinations, there is one metropolis famous for artistic festivals and great dining and a special joie de vivre attitude. But many travellers don’t realize that this cultural hotbed is also home to one of the most fascinating historical narratives in the Americas, and that there are several attractions and museums to help the visitor learn about a provocative past.
So, put down your wrench and step away from your complicated time machine. Here’s how you get started with actual time travel: a trip to historic Montréal.
From Past to Present in a Paragraph
For centuries, the Island of Montréal was inhabited by the Iroquois peoples. However, in 1642 a French military officer named Maisonneuve, along with a French nurse named Jeanne Mance, officially founded a permanent European settlement, which would inevitably change the course of history for the land. Montréal quickly became a major hub of the fur trade, and since then has grown from fledgling French colony to important British stronghold to the cosmopolitan North American metropolis of three million inhabitants that it is today. Such varied stewardship guarantees one thing: a notorious and beguiling history.
Standing on the Shoulders of Rebels
Montréal has always been a hotbed of nonconformity. For instance, did you know that the city’s first executioner was a gay drummer stationed with the French garrison? Or that an enslaved woman resisted oppression by burning Montréal to the ground? Or that John Lennon recorded Give Peace A Chance in a local hotel room? These antique anecdotes are just a few examples of the history hidden in the nooks and crannies of the city.
No neighbourhood reflects these ancient stories quite like Old Montréal. With its cobblestone alleyways and varied architectural styles (dating as far back as 1685), this corner of the city is laced with sordid tales and historic buildings.
Here’s where you need to go to discover more:
Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History – Set on a site bearing evidence of over 1,000 years of human activities and on the very birthplace of Montréal, the museum houses and protects remarkable archaeological remains.
Centre d’histoire de Montréal (Montréal history centre) – Re-live the rich and eventful history of our metropolis through sound environments, spectacular images, visual effects, personal testimonies and intriguing artefacts
Place D’Youville – The former heart of the city. Now visitors can see an obelisk on the site, which offers a unique synthesis of history and recalls the first pioneers.
Place d’Armes – A square bordered by very historical buildings (including Notre-Dame Basilica, Saint-Sulpice Seminary), and representing several major periods of Montréal’s development.
Château Ramezay – Montréal’s portal to its past and the first building in Québec to be classified as an historic monument
Marché Bonsecours – Inaugurated in 1847 and now recognized one of Canada’s ten finest heritage buildings and has become an essential stop on any visit to Old Montréal.
The City of a Thousand Steeples (and Peoples)
Mark Twain once said about Montréal that you couldn’t throw a rock without breaking a stained glass window. Any tourist who has stood at the top of Mont Royal, and looked across the city will attest to the medley of steeples that dot the cityscape. But why does Montréal have so many churches?
Well, we do a lot of sinning.
That was a joke. But our thirst for life is absolutely true!
The real reason Montréal has so many churches actually reflects the city’s welcoming attitude to diverse cultures and walks of life. Over the years, practically every neighbourhood saw a need for French and Irish Catholic churches. Add to the mix Anglican, United, Baptist and additional Christian denominations, as well as more recent Haitian, Chinese, Italian and other international communities, and suddenly there’s a pulpit for each walk of life.
Most churches in Montréal welcome visitors. But for first time travellers to the city, these are the must-see churches for any religiously inclined itinerary:
Saint-Sulpice Seminary – The oldest building in Montréal, erected between 1684 and 1687.
Notre-Dame Basilica – A masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture, built between 1824 and 1829.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Roman Catholic minor basilica. Canada’s largest church.
Be sure to click through to the websites to confirm opening hours, and for more information on scheduled guided tours.
Whether you’re organizing a reward trip or a group tour or just need some more information, contact us to plan your history-themed itinerary. We’re happy to help unravel the intrigue of Montréal’s extraordinary past!
Director, Business Development, Corporate Accounts
For general inquiries, please contact:
This could be you! Walking the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal!