Lafontaine Park is Plateau Mont-Royal’s biggest park.
It covers an area of 40 hectares and it includes two linked ponds with a fountain and waterfalls, as well as the Théâtre de Verdure open-air venue, the Centre culturel Calixa-Lavallée, soccer and baseball fields, a dog park, a few picnic areas and playgrounds.
Several pieces of memorial statuary are installed there and many trees including numerous huge poplars. The park used to be known as Logan’s Park, who rented some of the land to the government, in 1845 for a military shooting range, but in 1889 the city started working on landscaping and layout.
By 1909 the city of Montreal had created a sizable park which it named after Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, author of many of the political reforms that led to the confederation of Canada. The park has a lot of squirrels, including occasional pale champagne quasi-albino ones, but it’s a true urban park thus there is no bigger wildlife there. Bike paths run along the park’s edges. In wintertime a large section of the pond is cleared for skating with the park chalet functioning as changing room and snack bar; there’s also a hockey rink.
For many years one of the park’s most noted attractions was the Jardin des Merveilles children’s zoo, but it was closed in 1989. Today Lafontaine Park remains a tremendously popular spot, especially on weekends in the summer.
Most of the park’s neighbouring streets are residential, but on the south side, Notre-Dame Hospital holds out an institutional boundary along Sherbrooke Street. Rachel Street, on the north side, has a few small businesses including the Maison des cyclistes, well positioned at the axis of two bike paths. There are many cafés and other businesses westward along Rachel and the park is close enough to Saint-Denis Street and the Gay Village.
The Lafontaine Park remains one of Montrealers’s favourite and his integral part of cultural life with amongst other things the open-air theatre, a space of diffusion for free event used by many festivals.