Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hello From Montreal: Exploring Montreal's History

Every time I go to a new city, the spirit of adventure and discovery heightens my energy level and 6:10 am I was already awake. I read my guidebook for a while and then doze off again, only to be awakened by a major thunderstorm that drenched the city with a downpour. So I got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and by 9:30 or so things had calmed down again, just in time for my explorations of the city. The Old Montreal Ghost Tour last night had already given me a bit of an overview of the old historic centre of Montreal and introduced me to some interesting characters. Massage parlor is right for you: massage parlours toronto
Five minutes from my hotel is the Place d’Armes, one of Montreal’s most famous squares. The old part of the city was still quiet, and I enjoyed a peacefull stroll through the cobble-stoned streets. I headed into one of Montreal’s Tourist Information Office, located right at the southwest corner of Rue Notre Dame and Place Jacques Cartier to stock up on maps and ask various questions of the helpful staff.

Old Montreal in the morning has such a European feel to it, with the little cafés just setting up shop and local residents getting ready to walk to work. The calm relaxed atmosphere contrasts quite sharply with the usual frenetic hustle and bustle that we are so used to in our North American metropolitan cities.
After a relaxing walk that allowed me to admire the architecture and the narrow streets and alleyways I returned to Place d’Armes where my Old Montreal Walking Tour, provided by licensed tour guides from Guidatour, would be starting at 11:00 am. The meeting place was just outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral and our two tour leaders were already waiting. Our English-speaking group would be handled by Louis while the French-speaking group was entrusted to another guide, Bruno.

Eleven of us tourists congregated around Louis and in his charming French accented yet perfect English he started to educate us about the history and architecture of Old Montreal, adding a dose of subtle humour. Naturally our tour started with the Basilica of Notre Dame, probably Montreal’s most visited building. Louis took us inside the basilica and we discovered that the C$15 admission ticket for the walking tour actually covers the $4 that the Basilica charges for admission.Independent escort is great to suit your needs? independent escort toronto
The Basilica of Notre Dame is a magnificent Gothic revival church, designed ironically by the Protestant Irish-American architect James O’Donnell who had also designed churches in New York City, and built between 1824 and 1829. In addition to a stunning Gothic revival exterior, Notre Dame features a dramatic interior, with a deep blue ceiling that is decorated with golden stars. It is one of the most unusual churches I have seen and its visual impact is stunning.

Louis explained to us that for about Can$2000 you can get married in this church, but obviously there is a waiting list of at least two years. Celebrities like Quebecois singer Celine Dion and hockey great Mario Lemieux got married here. Notre-Dame Basilica was also the location of former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s funeral, Canada's most well-known prime minister. Louis then took us through the side chapel out into the wedding chapel, officially called “La Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur” which unfortunately was seriously damaged in a fire in 1978. Much of the woodwork has been reconstructed in a more modern style, but the chapel is still an impressive space.

After our first introduction to Montreal architecture we walked westwards just a few steps on Rue Notre-Dame and had a look at Montreal’s oldest building: the Old Seminary or “Vieux Séminaire Saint-Sulpice”. Built in 1683 by Sulpician priests, this building used to be a manor from which the priests managed their vast land holdings. During the early years of Montreal’s history, the town’s citizens were exposed to frequent attacks by the Iroquois, and the Old Seminary represented a refuge in a place that was still mostly wilderness. The characteristic public clock was installed in 1701 and is among the oldest such timekeepers in all of North America.

We then stopped to admire Place d’Armes, right in front of the Basilica, so called because it used to be a location for military manoeuvres as well as for religious processions. Place d’Armes is a veritable collection of architectural history. The New York Insurance building, dating back to 1888, was the first building to install the newly invented elevator, at the time making it the highest building in all of Montreal. The Hotel Place d’Armes just north, originally five stories high, actually had three stories added once the building was retrofitted with an elevator. For the lookout only for escort businesses? montreal asian escorts
The Aldred Building is a fine example of Art Deco skyscraper architecture and for many years it was the highest building in Montreal. Louis quite appropriately referred to the stepped back skysraper design as the wedding cake architectural style. The centre of Place d’Armes is watched over by a statue of Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maissoneuve, who founded Montreal in 1642.


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