Montréal’s Spectacular Mountain

From just about anywhere in Montréal you can view one of the city’s most famous landmarks, “Parc Mont Royal” or, as the locals call it, “la Montagne” – the Mountain.

In 1535 the famous French explorer, Jacques Cartier made his way to the top of the mountain following the lead of the Iroquois inhabitants. According to Cartier, he trekked about five kilometers until he reached the summit and it is said that at the summit he named the mountain “le Mont Royal.”

Paul Chomedy de Maisonneuve founded Montréal in 1642 and it was then known as “Ville Marie.” In 1642 the meeting of the St Lawrence and St Peter rivers brutally rose and threatened the settlement of Ville Marie. Maisonneuve promised that if the waters receded, he would erect a cross on Mont Réal. On Christmas Day the waters did recede and true to his word, Maisonneuve erected a heavy wooden cross in January 1643.

Today an electrified cross exists at the top of the mountain and its nightly spectacular glowing lights can be seen from most anywhere in the City.

The design of the Mountain began in 1872 when the well known architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, was commissioned to design a park on the mountain. It was this same architect who designed New York’s famous Central Park as well as Riverside Drive.

Olmsted adhered to the principal that nature was a source of spiritual food and if you wanted to wisely design a park you would have to provide the city dwellers a place to escape from the tedious and stressful routines of urban life. After 2 years, Mont Royal was inaugurated.

Over the many years since the implementation of Olmsted’s plan, Montrealers have been fortunate in being able to relax in a park which is so close to home yet far enough away from the stresses of life. Many Montrealers can remember the picnics they enjoyed on “the Mountain”, particularly if this was during their vacation time when they could not afford to go anywhere else.

Immigrants from the late 1800’s up until today can also thank Mr.Olmsted for providing them with the enjoyment of one of the great parks of the world. Anyone visiting Montréal must explore “le Montagne.”

The easiest way to reach “le Montagne” is by the number 11 bus. From the Mont-Royal metro station, take number 11 bus and you will arrive at the top of the mountain near the look out. Another possible route would be to take the number 80-bus going north from the Place-des-Arts metro station to Av Mont-Royal, then transfer to a number 11 bus or take the number 55 bus north from the St-Laurent metro station to Av Mont-Royal then transfer to a no. 11 bus.

If you are coming by car and from the downtown area, take Av du Parc going north and just before Av Mont Royal turn left at the light and then go up to the intersection of Cote Ste-Catherine and Camillien Houde Parkway and turn left into the Camillien Houde Parkway. Remember, when travelling along Av du Parc keep to your left hand side, as you will need to bear left just before Av Mont Royal.

There are two lookout sites, one of which is known as “the chalet” and another located on the Camillien Houde Parkway. The lookout at the “chalet” provides you with a spectacular view of the City, the St Lawrence River and the Monteregian Hills.

An autumn visit to “le Montagne” is breathtaking where you witness the fall foliage in its entire splendor. During the summer months “le Montagne” provides the visitor with a chance to picnic and stretch out on the many acres of grass particularly around the area known as “Beaver Lake.” The winter months are likewise very enjoyable if you like to cross country ski, as there are many trails throughout the park.

If there are any Montrealers or former Montrealers out in cyber space that would like to share their Beaver Lake or Lookout experiences with other readers, just drop me a line. On the other hand, if you have any questions about the park don’t hesitate to email me.

An excellent site to refer to is the following which
has Quick Time “le Montagnne” and you actually feel you are there! The site is in the French language, however it is not too difficult to understand.

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