Place Royale

Place Royale sits above the remains of fortifications and buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, near the birthplace of Montreal, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Little St. Pierre Rivers.

Beneath the square lies an archaeological crypt, with the remains of structures erected over the centuries by masons and other trades. The way the remains are superposed in this one spot offers a sort of condensed history of Montreal.

In 1979 archaeological digs were started in Place Royale. The fascinating finds there tell us a great deal about the daily life of Natives and the first Montrealers. The archaeological crypt lies beneath Place Royale and links the Eperon and Ancienne-Douane buildings of the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum.

The archaeological remains and artefacts in the crypt are part of the permanent exhibition Where Montréal Was Born. Archaeologists exploring the site have brought priceless historic discoveries to light. Thanks to their research, we can identify major periods of occupation of this spot between.

In fact, Aboriginal peoples visited the area as early as in the 14th Century. The French period begins with the arrival of the founders of Montréal, in 1642, and the construction of Fort Ville-Marie. Below ground level traces of the first Catholic cemetery have been found. It was laid out in 1643, as part of Ville-Marie (today Montreal), and was probably used until 1654. There are graves of French colonists and Natives from the very earliest days of the fledgling settlement. Between 1832 and 1838, the Little St-Pierre River was canalized through a sewer pipe.

In the basement of the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum visitors can see traces of Ville-Marie’s wooden palisade, built in 1684 and of the guardhouse, dating back to 1698, as well as a paved street from the late 18th century, walls from the Baby-Bagg house, built in 1767 and from the Würtele inn, built in 1802.

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