Montreal harbours hundreds of heritage monuments, unobtrusive yet very important witnesses of the past. You may choose one of walking tours that are off the beaten path-routes and that showcase certain guardians of history too often overlooked by the tourist guides.
History and culture are at every turn in the downtown Montreal, to the point where the city can feel like an urban museum.
A walk through the Square Mile district, favoured haunt of the XIX-century bourgeoisie, will bring you to magnificent residences such as Maison Shaughnessy, built in 1874. The area presents houses of worship that, unchanged over time, bear out the city’s religious heritage, like the Roman Catholic Cathedral Marie-Reine-du-Monde and the Erskin and American United Church, both erected in 1894.
The Quartier des Spectacles, the city’s entertainment district, is home to Place des Arts (1863), the city’s premier cultural complex and a legacy of controversial but visionary mayor Jean Drapeau.
But for time travel, there’s nothing like Old Montreal. The piece de résistance of this open-aire museum is the Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, Montreal’s oldest stone dwelling, located on Notre Dame Street West. Built in 1867, it was by turns private residence, seigneurial manor and presbytery.
Nearly Place Jacques Cartier is a historic rallying point that, thanks to a 100-year-old law, must retain its public market role in perpetuity.
Next up is Parc Jean-Drapeau, comprising St-Helen Island and Notre-Dame Island – an exceptional urban green space that has played host to such mega-events as Expo-67, the 1976 Summer Olympics and the Floralies Internationales. You can follow in the footsteps of the world’s great athletes to the Olympic Park, built to accommodate the 1976 Games. The park is home to the Olympic Village and the famous Stadium, a landmark construction capped by the imposing Tour de Montreal, the highest inclined tower in the world, boasting a 45-degree angle, nine times greater than the Tower of Pisa.
Of course, Montreal isn’t limited to these circuits and it’s up a visitor to venture out, enhance his or her culture experiences and transform the discovery of the city into a true museum adventure.
Old Montreal. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
All of the city’s history comes together at the Montreal city museum, Centre d’histoire de Montréal – 335, place D’Youville, Montréal, H2Y 3T1. You’ll find the keys for discovering Montreal’s multiple identities. Three floors of permanent and temporary exhibits offer a rich experience of the eventful and sometimes turbulent adventure of Canada’s first metropolis. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com
The Darling Foundry (724, Ottawa Street, Montreal H3C 1R8) is a virtual arts centre that supports the creation, production and promotion of contemporary art, allowing the extension of artworks into the urban landscape. Its unusual industrial spaces can host ambitious installations and give scope for poetic intervention. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com
Opened in 1882, the Redpath Museum is one of Canada’s oldest museums with exhibits showcasing a large variety of biological and geological specimens as well as cultural artifcats from around the world. Address: 859, Sherbrooke Ouest Street H3A 2K6. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com
Inaugurated in the Fall of 2007, DHC/Art presents some of the most compelling art from around the world. Accessible and welcoming, the Foundation is an important addition to Montreal’s cultural life and a premiere venue for contemporary art. 451, Saint-Jean Street, Vieux-Montreal H2Y 2R5. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Chateau Ramezay Museum. 280, Notre-Dame Est Street H2Y 1C5. Dating from the time of New France, this governors' residence offers you the essentials of 500 years of Montreal and Quebec history through its exhibitions and the Governor's Garden, a haven in the heart of Old Montreal. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Sir George Etienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada. 458, Notre-Dame Est, H2Y 1CB. A house, a history, a way of life. This historic site presents the life and work of Sir George-Etienne Cartier (1814-1873), one of the main Fathers of Confederation. The Cartier's family home has been meticulously restored according to the tastes and customs of the Montreal bourgeoisie around 1860. This house is a window onto the intimacy of a period. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum. 400, St-Paul Est H2Y 1H4. This 300-year0old chapel and its captivating history museum will amaze you. As you move through the exhibition roams, including the magnificent crypt and the tower with a spectacular view of Old Montreal, you will find yourself covering more than 2000 years of history. Of special interest: the tomb of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, the tower lookout and the archaeological site. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Cinematheque quebecoises owns a Lumiere brothers Cinematgraph. Just 25 of these rare movie camera/projectors were manufactured over 100 years ago. The Cinematograph-number 16 in the series, acquired some years ago is a valuable addition in the Cinematheque's collection, which has more than 2,000 cameras and projectors. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Montreal Science Center. Drawing on an original approach based on interactivity, authenticity and innovation, the Science Centre offers a new way of looking at science and technology. IMAX TELUS films, movie game and multimedia experiences are amongst the myriad of hands-on activities the Centre has to offer. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. Birthplace of Montreal and an authentic archaeological site, Pointe-a-Calliere leads visitors through six centuries of history, from Indian days to the present. Opened in 1992,it combines treasures from the past with advanced technology to offer a fascinating experience. 350 Place Roytale H2Y 3Y5. La place du Marché (Market Place was the first public square of Montreal, open in 1657 and conceded by the Seigneurs to the city in 1676). Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
The Environment Canada's Biosphere features exhibitions and activities which are entertaining and educational to better understand major environmental issues related to water, air, climate change, sustainable development and responsible consumption. Source : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Montreal's only fort features sights and sounds of another era and four centuries of history. Fascinating collections, innovative exhibitions, living history activities and authentic 18th century military drill. Photo : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Built between 1915 and 1918, the Château Dufresne was a mansion beaux-arts style owned by the Dufresne brothers, important members of the Montreal's French bourgeoisie, Today, the chateau hosts a museum dedicated to the Montreal's east side history, the Chateau Dufresne Museum. Photo : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Montreal Insectarium. The Montreal Insectarium offers you a fascinating world, buzzing with life. Beetles aas bright as precious stones, giant stick insects, multocoloured butterflies and impressive spiders will thrill visitors young and old. Photo : © www.flickr.com/photos/voyagecanada
The Botanical Garden is known as one of the world's finest, with some thirty thematic gardens, tex exhibition greenhouses and a vast arboretum. Its gardens form a delightful oasis of peace at any time of year, right in the heart of Montreal. Address : 4101 Sherbrooke Est, H1X 2B2. Photo : © ProvinceQuebec.com
Montreal Biodome. The Biodome is a unique museum of the environment. Live collections with about 5,000 animals of 230 species and 750 plants species in four ecosystems from the Americas, each with a different climate, all under one roof. Photo : © ProvinceQuebec.com