Monday, March 26, 2012

Table of Contents



Pointing the camera into a window can yield fascinating results, as seen in this window of Ogilvie's department store on Ste. Catherine Street. You see the reflections of store mannikins, as well as other buildings, cars and passersby. 

Montreal will capture your heart, as it has done for millions of others.
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The Soul of a Woman in Montreal


The Soul of  Montreal's Jazz, Food, Life




The Soul of Montreal in Reflection, music by Pia



About Me
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I was born in the United States but moved to Montreal with my family, and spent high school, college and graduate school in Montreal. I've since returned to the U.S., but return to Montreal several times a year. I have a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University and an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. I've been writing about Montreal and Quebec travel for the past six years, based on my years there and on my trips back. I wrote book reviews the Montreal Gazette and I covered arts, music and theatre for The Globe and Mail in Toronto.


No matter how you brew your cup of Joe, there's little argument that coffee ranks high among the world's best-loved hot beverages. Roasted, French pressed or espresso, Montreal. . . .


Lying on Montreal's West Island, the historic village of Pointe Claire was settled in 1698 as an outpost along fur trading routes. In 1713, it became a Catholic parish and a. . .


We are on Rue St. Paul Est in Old Montreal, where sidewalk cafes are as common as Paris. Old Montreal offers exquisite. . .

The Northern dance is the Lion Dance, and it is an acrobatic dance from which many martial arts moves originated from this Northern style. The Lion Dance is performed. . .


The 16th and 17th Centuries  Before Montreal was a city, it was Hochelaga, a village the Iroquois had established at the foot of Mount Royal . . .


The 1970's ushered in many political changes, and the rise of the Parti Quebecois (PQ) to power. French Canadians in Quebec had suffered from centuries of oppression from. . .
Coming soon:
 The Insider's Guide to Prince Arthur 
 The Insider's Guide to Montreal 1962 to Now
The Insider's Guide to The Main

Coming Later this summer: 
The Insider's Guide to Quebec City
The Insider's Guide to Frescoes, Stairs and Architecture

All content copyright Kathryn Esplin. © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin 2006 - 2012. All rights reserved. Photos copyright Kathryn Esplin, unless stated otherwise.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Insider's Guide to Political Instability in the 1960s and 1970s


The former Montreal Stock Exchange




The 1970's ushered in many political changes and the rise of the Parti Quebecois (PQ) to power. French Canadians suffered from centuries of oppression, and the PQ wanted to re-establish French Canadian dominance in Quebec. The former Montreal Stock Exchange was bombed as part of this era of political unrest. The Montreal Stock Exchange is now the Centaur Theatre.
 
One need only to have lived in Montreal before the 1970s to see that affluence was clustered in mostly English-speaking well-heeled enclaves  like Westmount or the Town of Mount Royal, or in the comfortable middle-  to upper-middle class towns of Montreal West and Notre Dame de Grace. Vast sections on Montreal's east side were economically deprived. In 1969, mailboxes on the Westmount's streets were removed because some had been bombed.

Since 1963, the terrorist group, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)  had carried out several bombings that resulted in the deaths of six people. These were mostly the mail box bombings, such as those in Westmount and in other English-speaking towns. But on February 13, 1969, the Montreal Stock Exchange was bombed, which caused extensive damage and injured 27 people. The FLQ had stolen several tons of dynamite from military and industrial sites. The FLQ then warned  that more attacks were to come.



1970 
By 1970, 23 FLQ members were in jail, including four convicted of murder. In February, two men  were arrested in Montreal for possession of a sawn-off shotgun, as well as a communiqué announcing the kidnapping of the Israeli consul. Police raids during this time yielded significant munitions weaponry and dynamite. 


A draft of a ransom note to be used for the kidnapping of the American consul was also found during these raids. This was a dangerous time to be in Quebec.  The demonstrations were becoming increasingly violent, such as the Quebec Libre demonstration in which protestors yelled, "Quebec pour les Quebecois" (Quebec for the Quebeckers - meaning the French-speaking Quebeckers). Molotov cocktails were thrown.


The October Crisis, 1970 


The October Crisis of 1970 is well known in Quebec but few in the U.S.A or elsewhere are familiar with the details. 

On October 5, the FLQ kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross, followed by the demand to release convicted or detained FLQ members.  


  •  October 5, FLQ Liberation Cell kidnapped James Cross, the British Trade Comissioner.
  •  October 8, FLQ broadcast their manifesto to all Quebec media outlets.
  • October 10, the FLQ kidnapped Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte.
  • October 13, reporters asked Trudeau how far he would go to protect peace and he replied: "Just watch me." 
  • October 15, in separate events, members of separatist groups spoke at the University of Montreal; 3,000 students gathered in Montreal in support of the FLQ. 
  • October 16, Trudeau implemented the War Measures Act, which suspended habeas corpus, which enabled police to enter and search without a warrant. This allowed police to apprehend and keep in custody individuals suspected of terrorist links. 
  • October 16, The FLQ announced Laporte has been executed. 
  • October 30, Rene Levesque, journalist and future Quebec Premier wrote that "The Army occupies Quebec. It is unpleasant but undoubtedly necessary in times of crisis."
  • November 6, Bernard Lortie was arrested and charged with Laporte's murder. 
  • December 3, kidnapped minister Cross is released. Simultaneously, five FLQ terrorists, Marc Carbonneau, Yves Langlois, Jacques Lanctot, Jacques Cossette-Trudel and wife Louise Lanctot were flown to Cuba in Canadian Forces aircraft, arranged by the Canadian government and Fidel Castro. On December 27, the remaining three members of the FLQ cell responsible for Laporte's murder were arrested.




By 1977, Bill 101 was passed, which meant that Quebec's official language would be French and not English and French, as had been the case prior to 1977.
 
Copyright © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2007-2012. Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Insider's Guide to Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille in Pointe Claire




Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille in Pointe Claire is located in the historic 1850 Canada Hotel, one of the oldest buildings in Pointe Claire.

First in 1698 as an outpost along fur trading routes, the historic village of Pointe Claire lies on Montreal's comfortable West Island.  In 1713, Pointe Claire became a Catholic parish, and, in 1854, it became a municipality. Today, this charming town is made up of mostly English speaking, middle- to upper-middle income residents, who live in single-family homes built on spacious, wooded lots.


As a tourist, sometimes you want gourmet food. At other times, you want something simpler, a burger perhaps, but definitely not fast food.

Enter the Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille. This local chain started in 1996 on Rue Montagne in downtown Montreal and it has grown rapidly in its 16 years of existence. The franchise added a second pub on Prince Arthur, a third in the borough of Notre Dame des Grace (NDG). In 2010, the Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille took up residence in Pointe Claire's historic 1850 Canada Hotel along Lakeshore Blvd. At the time, some townsfolk expressed concern that a pub was not compatible with the village's sedate profile.


The pub grub is great at this Celtic-themed eatery. Start with a house or Caesar salad, French onion soup or sweet potato fries, which can be had for $5.99 each. (All amounts are in Canadian dollars.) Add vegetable crudites at $8.99 or garlic cheese bread for $6.99. The pub offers a standard pub menu, plus international favorites such as nachos, Cajun chicken nachos, samosas, curry poutine and fried Calimari. 


The specialties are varied. Jumbo capon wings or chicken fillets come with a choice of honey garlic sauce or cider BBQ sauce in medium, spicy or kick-ass hot. The wings are served in four to 12 pieces, priced between $7.99 and $12.99. The chicken fillets are served in four or six pieces at $8.99 and $11.99. Fans of Celtic cuisine would love the County Louth Irish Stew or the Beef and Stout Stew at $13.99.
 

This reviewer loves the Beef and Stout Stew,  the Pub Cheeseburger at $10.99 and the blackened Cajun salmon at $16.99. For beer, the locally brewed McAuslan St. Amboise pale and the Griffon blonde are top craft beers.


In Pointe Claire, Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille in is located at 322 Chemin du Bord-du-Lac-Lakeshore (322 Lakeshore Blvd (t) 514.694.5858) The servers don Celtic attire, with female servers wearing kilted skirts. The pub hosts sports on its TV.

It also features excellent Montreal micro brews. Most reviews on Urban Spoon and Yelp rate Ye Olde Orchard Pub very highly. The pub would be wise to consider larger locations, since the popularity of this restaurant chain frequently results in a packed house. The location in Pointe Claire is small. Expect a wait on weekend evenings. A new location in the Laurentian ski village of St. Sauveur opened recently.


$$ 




Locations for Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grille:


322 Lakeshore Blvd (t) 514.694.5858
 20 Prince Arthur W (t) 514.845.7772
 1189 de la Montagne (t) 514.874.1569
5563 Monkland Ave (t) 514.484.1569
173 Rue Principale, St. Sauveur des Monts (t) 450.227.888






Copyright © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. All rights reserved.  

The Insider's Guide to Old Montreal



Montreal is one of the oldest and most charming  settlements in North America.

 Old Montreal is understandably one of the prime tourist attractions for visitors. 


Originally, Montreal was an Iroquois settlement named Hochelaga when Jacques Cartier sailed from France in 1535, seeking a waterway to China and Japan. 


The actual founding of Montreal occurred in 1642, when it was named Ville Marie, was by Paul Chomedey, who was the sieur de Maisonneuve.






Rue St. Paul, where sidewalk cafes are as common as Paris and exquisite dishes from French and European cuisines. The secret is the relaxed pace of life where you sip wine and spend an entire afternoon.

People watching is as an end in itself.

Below, a gallery, one of several fine galleries that feature original art and sculpture in Old Montreal.

Not only id Le Papillon's  onion soup reportedly superb, (below) but patrons have been known to order endless plates of escargot and mussels, which comes with a scrumptious  blue cheese sauce. 


Reviewers report that the braised rabbit and salmon are tender, the price reasonable and the service superb.


Le Papillon offers continental service, which is rare in the U.S., except in the most expensive restaurants, but such service is common in Old Montreal. 

 Le Senateur restaurant is another fine dining establishment in Old Montreal (not shown) that offers exquisite dishes, white linen tablecloths and continental service.












http://media-files.gather.com/images/d493/d78/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpghttp://media-files.gather.com/images/d491/d78/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgBonsecours Market dates from  1847. 

At left, a mannequin.

You can see why Montreal is a fashion capital.  


At right, the sign near the umbrella stand states: "Merde Il Pleut," a polite translation for "Drat, it's raining."  







Bonsecours Street above, was laid out in 1665, along with Jacques Cartier, St. Sulpice and a few others.



The building foreground right is the Maison Pierre du Calvert; the red building is the restaurant Maison Pierre du Calvert. 



At left, the original stones, built when this street was gridded in 1665.  



Benjamin Franklin stayed here and sought  Calvert's support for troops for the Revolutionary War. 

Calvert complied with Franklin's request, but was  imprisoned for this. 

The inn is now for sale, a tragedy, since this historic site is truly one of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants around. 

Brad Pitt and many other celebrities have stayed here.





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The Bonsecour church was built over ruins of the first chapel  in 1771 and is situated over the ruins of the first chapel built in 1655 and burned in 1754. 



This church is commonly called The Sailor's church after sailors made offerings in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for delivering them safely to the port of Montreal.










Below, the Verre de l'Ange looks enticing but reviewers say that the ownership has changed and that the food is not well prepared.














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Old Montreal  always teems with life. 



There is simply no such thing as a bad day in Old Montreal, weather not withstanding. 


During inclement weather, tourists and residents alike take to the indoor cafes.









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 The architecture in this office building seems bombastic according to our cleaner, simpler contemporary taste but in its day, this building was  an excellent example of the Art deco period. 


It also resembles the Architect's building of the same era and of a similar style. 


The Architect's building was destroyed in the 1960s to make way for newer buildings.









Below, tourists enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn caleche.
















In Montreal, the caleche has been a tourist attraction for about five decades.


 Recently, advocacy groups have attempted to ban the caleche, because of  collisions with automobiles.

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The Basilica Notre Dame sits at 110 Notre Dame West on the corner of Rue St. Sulpice  in Montreal  and is one of four Basilicas in Montreal. 


The first church on this site, built in 1672, was the parish church for Ville Marie, the former name of Montreal.  


By the 1800s, the congregation had outgrown the original church building and plans for a new building were made. 


The groundbreaking for the new building was in 1823 and was completed in 1843 in a Gothic Revival style. 


At the time, the Notre Dame was the largest church in North America. Pavarotti sang in the Notre Dame and Celine Dion married in the Notre Dame. 


Its pipe organ dates from 1891 and includes more than 9000 pipes. 

It was elevated to the status of  basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1982.  


The church now charges an entry fee of $5, unless visitors are attending mass. 


A special light show runs Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets: $10 adults; $9 seniors; $5 children and teens.




Copyright  ©  The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2007-2012.  Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. All rights reserved. 

The Insider's Guide to The Love of Coffee


Van Houtte's


No matter how you brew your cup of Joe, there's little argument that coffee ranks high among the world's best-loved hot beverages. Roasted, French pressed or espresso, Montreal offers several coffee houses to satisfy the most discriminating coffee palates.


Montreal's Van Houtte coffee is the city's premier gourmet coffee, and the story of how this European-inspired cafe etched its taste upon Montrealers is a fascinating rags-to-riches tale. In 1912, French-born Albert-Louis Van Houtte arrived in Montreal with the dream of importing horses.

That dream did not work out, and Van Houtte yearned for the rich taste of French coffee back home. Pursuing his dream, he traveled to New York in 1919 to buy a coffee roaster and he began roasting coffee beans. At first, Montrealers found his European roast too bitter for their North American palates, and so he blended his roast to make it milder. The blend was a hit and Van Houtte's coffee roasting business was born.


After Van Houtte's death in 1944, his children expanded the business, and by the 1980s, they created a chain of cafe-bistros that served gourmet coffee, cakes and sandwiches. Today, there are more than 60 Van Houtte cafe-bistros throughout Quebec, with 23 cafes in Montreal. 



Locations in Montreal include 500 Sherbrooke Street West, 359 President Kennedy, 165 St. Paul Street West,  2000 McGill College, plus others listed on the website. There's even an intriguing blog about coffee in Paris. To locate a Van Houtte cafe-bistro nearest you, use the website's Find a cafe-bistro locator. The typical cafe-bistro menu includes filtered and espresso-based special coffees, muffins, bagels and croissants, ciabattas, wraps, tortilla club, whole-grain sandwiches, foccacios and hot meals.

Of course, no bistro is without its offering of decadent desserts.
Jazz and blues are piped into each cafe-bistro. WiFi at all locations. Special Van Houtte K cups are also available. Do you prefer woodsy or fruity coffees? Find out on Van Houtte's Discover Your Coffee Profile quiz.  
            


The Second Cup
                                                                                                                                                                  
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The Second Cup
is Canada's largest coffee house, with its headquarters in Ontario and 360 cafes in Canada, including 30 locations in Montreal. These include: 1551 St. Denis, 800 Place Victoria, 2200 McGill College Avenue and 5206 Cote des Neiges. 

The Second Cup blog lists maple as the flavor for March, which is the prime time for maple sugaring. In addition to whole bean and ground coffee in roasts that range from light to dark, The Second Cup also offers Swiss Water decaf, organic and certified fair trade coffee, as well as flavored coffees, teas and flavored hot chocolate. Cinnamon cookies, summer fruits and pumpkin treats are available seasonally. Live music by local artists in many cafes. WiFi in all cafes.





Café Dépôt


At the 24-hour Cafe Depot,  the baristas speak French and English. Headquartered in Quebec, Café Dépôt franchises began in 1994. Today, 76 Café Dépôt coffee houses exist in Quebec. The Café Dépôt in the photo at right is located is at 3601 Blvd St. Laurent, on the corner of St. Laurent Prince Arthur. This location signals the beginning of the Prince Arthur Pedestrian Mall, which runs along Prince Arthur from St. Laurent to Carré St. Louis on Laval Street. Like Van Houtte's cafe-bistros, Café Dépôt offers wraps, sandwiches, fruit smoothies, fruit drinks and cold salads, as well as cakes. 

WiFi is available at most locations. Low fat, hot or iced coffee is available in macchiato, cappuccino or maple cream (sugar-free is also available), plus exotic teas and Nutrivo, Café D
épôt's signature banana yogurt smoothie. 


For lunch or supper, pair a cup of Asiago bisque soup or pesto salad with a Lyon or Szechuan baguetine. Or, try the Montreal classique with pastrami, swiss and creole Dijon sauce.

In the mood for something different?  Try a ham and brie wrap, a grilled Thai chicken or braised pork chipotle sandwich. Add a cup of full-bodied Brazillian coffee, roasted with fruity notes to give an air of jazz.

Add a
slice of mocha almond or chocolate mousse cake for dessert. Speaking of cakes, this reviewer would be remiss not to mention that Café Dépôt cakes are out of this world. 


For Americans who yearn for European gateaux and tortes, outside of France no other cake (except those at Café Dépôt) can satisfy your preference for European cakes. About a dozen cakes are offered daily. You would be hard pressed to find European gateau quality in any American bakery, such as you find at Café Dépôt. A key a difference between American and European cakes is that American cakes are sweeter. European tastes run to semi-sweet chocolate, rich creme and moist layers in the cakes.


Locations in Montreal include:


Café Dépôt
800 Blvd. Rene Levesque O.
(514) 390-8859
 
Café Dépôt
1490 de Maisonneuve O.
(514) 931-1570

Café Dépôt
1200 Mc Gill College Avenue
(514) 861-0339
 
Café Dépôt
3601  Blvd. St. Laurent
(514) 285-0009

Outside of France or Montreal, only in Watertown, Massachusetts, at Lily's French Bakery Cafe, can you purchase an exquisite, vanilla cake with chocolate mousse between layers and topped with whipped cream that will please gourmands with fussy taste buds. Truly, Marie Antoinette would have been happy.

Tim Horton's



Tim Hortons is also a popular coffee chain, with more than 20 locations in Montreal. Tim Horton's can coffee is refreshingly bold, a plus for a coffee gourmand, like this reviewer. Tim Hortons also features a decadent maple shortbread cookie, Tim Hortons-inspired ice cream flavors (in partnership with Cold Stone Creamery), peach mango fruit smoothie and Tim Horton NHL team cards. Steeped and specialty teas, espresso and latte, as well as specialty coffees, iced coffees and fruit smoothies are featured menu items. Bagels, croissants, breakfast sandwiches, lunch wraps, soups and sandwiches round out the menu. Many locations feature in-restaurant seating and some are open 24 hours. Several have drive thru.

Locations in Montreal include:



Tim Hortons                                    
1250 rue University
Montréal QC, H3B 3B8
(514) 392-1221


 Tim Hortons
1030, rue De La Montagne
Montréal QC, H3G 1Y7
(514) 932-6014


Tim Hortons
674, Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal QC, H3A 1E7
(514) 286-4590


 Tim Hortons
48, rue Notre-Dame Est
Montréal QC, H2Y 1B9
(514) 875-4540


Copyright © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2007-2012. All photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Insider's Guide to Mt. Tremblant




A cabriolet takes you from the bottom of the mountain to the pedestrian village, where skiers take a gondola to get to the slope. Tremblant offers 95 trails, half of which are expert and 17 percent are beginner trails. The total trail length is 49 miles. Mont Tremblant is truly one of North America's great ski resorts, and is open all year round for visitors. Golf is a huge draw for summer visitors. Mr. Tremblant website 

Mont Tremblant also offers school break specials, winter and summer vacation specials, ski rentals, lessons and ski schools, snowboarding, golf, rentals, air and ground travel information, plus information on entering Canada and more.


http://media-files.gather.com/images/d691/d78/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgAlthough Mont Tremblant became a ski resort in 1939, it did not develop an international reputation until broadcaster Lowell Thomas broadcast newscasts from Mont Tremblant,where he enjoyed skiing. 


http://media-files.gather.com/images/d693/d78/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg Until 1991, Tremblant was privately owned, but in 1991, the Canadian  resorts company, Intrawest, bought the resort and added these lovely villages. Recently, a second Québec casino was added to match the Montreal casino.

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At the pedestrian village, tourists, skiers and golfers shop, eat and relax in this charming village. The  eateries are absolutely fantastic. This setting also makes for a great day trip in summer. Various Accommodations include the Marriott Hotel, and  other hotels and condos.
The cabriolet drops you off at the pedestrian village, where skiers can take the gondola or any one of a number of chair lifts to the ski trails. The village includes several sportswear boutiques. In summer, golf is just as big a draw tourists as skiing is in the winter.

Sporting good and sportswear shops include Columbia Sportswear, Helly Hansen and Magasin a la Place, which is a complex that includes well known ski brands such as The North Face, Spyder, Nordia, Rossignol, Dynastar, Nordica and more. A boot fitting service, ski outfitting, fitting and repairs are also available.

Having a party in your room? The SAQ, which is the provincially run Les Sociétés des Alcools du Québec has what you need. Restaurants at Tremblant range from light snacks to gourmet feasts in French and International, Italian, Asian, Grille, Bistros and Cafés, Bar Resto (pub with meals)  candies and crepes. 

From personal experience, the fudge at Tremblant is superb, as is the grille. 

Bars and Nightclubs 

The Bar Café d'Époque is Tremblant's top nightclub, according to the website. Live DJ nightly from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.  Vieux-Tremblant (819) 430-6730 and (819) 421-4554.

The Nansen Lounge Fairmount Tremblant offers a casual chic lounge with light meals, wine and cocktails. (819) 681-7685.  

Le P'tit Caribou Vieux Tremblant (819) 681-4500 has been on a list of top bars for 18 years.

The Microbrasserie Le Diable Vieux Tremblant (819) 681-4546. Microbrewery beers and complete menu.
Wait! There is more to enjoy at Tremblant:
Golf
Winter programs
Summer Ironman
Accommodations and Reservations




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 Winter at Tremblant offers more than 600 acres of ski and snowboarding trails.
Summer activities also include airplane rides, boating tours, caleche rides, canoe trips, helicopter rides, horseback riding, mountain biking, paintball games, rafting, rock climbing school, water skiing, white water rafting and ziplining.


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At Tremblant, 16 trails are easy, 31 intermediate, 37 difficult and 10 are expert. Tremblant also offers 13 ski lifts, including one gondola, five detachable chair lifts, three regular chair lifts, and three magic carpets.


http://media-files.gather.com/images/d726/d78/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgWinter activities include cross country, ice climbing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and spas.The area also offers cycling, hiking, canoeing, among many other activities.


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 At 46 degrees N. latitude, the elevation is 876 meters or 2,056 feet.


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And back down to the village. Enjoy your stay in this charmed village.


Copyright © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2007-2012. Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. All rights reserved. 

The Insider's Guide to Montreal 1535 - 1960

The image
Before Montreal was a city, it was Hochelaga, an Iroquois settlement established at the foot of Mount Royal. Efforts are now underway to excavate Hochelaga.


In 1535, French explorer Jacques Cartier discovered Hochelaga and claimed the entire St. Lawrence valley for France. Seventy years later, French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived and reported that these early Iroquois settlements had disappeared from the St. Lawrence valley, due to inter-tribal wars, European disease and migration. Champlain founded a permanent French settlement up river in Quebec City, in 1608.

The founder of Ville-Marie, the precursor to Montreal, was Paul Chomedy de Maisonneuve (1612 - 1676),  an aristocrat and French military officer. He joined the military at thirteen and was hired by Jesuits to build a mission on Montreal Island. In 1641, Maisonneuve was in Quebec City, where the governor tried to dissuade Maisonneuve from establishing a mission in the midst of the unstable Iroquois territory. Maisonneuve did establish the settlement of Ville-Marie on the island of Montreal, where he also built a chapel and Ville-Marie's first hospital, the Hotel Dieu, under the direction of  lay nurse, Jeanne Mance, below.
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Relations between the French and the Algonquins  were peaceful during the first year but the flood of 1643 threatened the newly founded settlement of Ville-Marie. Maisonneuve prayed to the Virgin Mary to stop the flood.  The flood stopped and Maisonneuve erected a cross on Mount Royal.

Although relations with the Algonquins were peaceful, it was not so with the Iroquois. Horrible destruction continued on both sides, with both Iroquois and colonists being decimated during the next several years. By 1652, Maisonneuve returned to France to shore up more military personnel for New France. 


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The Hotel Nelson (at right) and old Hotel de Ville in Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal), seen here from the waterfront. Old Montreal has many restaurants, churches, bars, shops and markets. Some building in Old Montreal date back to the earliest gridding of the city, 1665. Others, date from the 19th century.

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Montreal City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) in Old Montreal was built between 1872 and 1878 and is an example of the Second Empire architectural style. The Hotel de Ville is located at 275 Rue Notre Dame Est (Notre Dame Street East) facing place Jacques Cartier.


 Although relations with the Algonquins were peaceful, it was not so with the Iroquois. Horrible destruction continued on both sides, with both Iroquois and colonists being decimated during the next several years. By 1652, Maisonneuve returned to France to shore up more military personnel for New France.  


Maisonneuve returned to Montreal with 100 reservists to add to the barely sustaining population of 50 in Montreal. Over time, Montreal grew. Many persons of  French Canadian descent in Quebec have Aboriginal (Native Canadian Indian) blood in them, due to intermarriage and decimation of the Iroquois and other tribes during colonization. Maisonneuve returned to France, where he died in 1676. 



Above, the old stone architecture of the Maison du Calvert inn and restaurant dates to 1670, because these streets were gridded in 1665. At right, the Bonsecours Church, also known as the Sailor's Church. 


Below, the Basilica Notre Dame in Old Montreal.



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 Ville-Marie became a leading fur trading center and remained a French colony until 1760, when Pierre Francois de Rigaud, the Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal, surrendered  Ville-Marie to the British under Jeffrey Amherst, during the French and Indian Wars. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years' War and  ceded New France to the Kingdom of Great Britain, thus further making life difficult for the first European colonists, the French. In the decades that followed the ceding of New France to Great Britain, Scottish emigrants established the North West fur trading Company to rival Hudson's Bay  Company. 


The 19th Century 


In the 19th century, it was this English-speaking community of Scottish emigrants who developed a wealthy merchant class, which they would leverage to their advantage and economically, culturally and politically oppress the French Canadians in Quebec.  It was James McGill  who bequeathed money with which to establish Canada's first university, McGill. 


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 This is Queen Victoria, so chosen for the former Women's College, Royal Victoria College,  now the Music Faculty.

The image
Below, an old photo of McGill University, viewed from Roddick Gates along Sherbrooke Street West, looking toward the Arts Building, where the English Department is located. This is the oldest building at McGill and home of the English Department.

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The Paragraphe bookstore, a very fine, English-language bookstore, just down the street from the McGill College campus on McGill College Avenue. 

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. During  the 19th century, the industrial and economic boom attracted French Canadian laborers from the Quebec countryside to live in cities such as Saint Henri and Maisonneuve. English, Scottish and Irish settlers lived in Point St. Charles and Griffintown. Montreal soon became the seat of financial and political power for English and French Canadians. By 1852, Montreal had 60,000 inhabitants; a few years later, it was the largest city in the British Commonwealth in North America.Montreal grew rapidly in the latter 19th century and continued this growth into the 20th century.

The 20th Century: Prohibition Brings Tourists, Money and Glamor to Montreal

During Prohibition, Montreal was a  haven for American bootleggers who drove  their souped up cars past Southern Sheriffs in a race to the border. Most times, the preferred destination was Montreal.  

The Bronfman family of Montreal was the noted importer of Seagram's Canadian Whiskey. The presence of booze in Montreal quickly turned Montreal into a tourist haven for deprived Americans looking to drink. In turn, alcohol brought other pleasures. Burlesque houses, varietal theatre and jazz clubs thrived during this era. Canadians and Americans would travel to Montreal to partake in this hedonistic existence. 


Sammy Davis Jr. was said to have tap danced with a girl from St. Henri when he was seven years old. Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and numerous other visiting jazz greats thrived in the nightclubs of Montreal during Prohibition and after. It was Prohibition that established Montreal as the nightlife capital of Canada, and one of the nightlife capitals of North America. Famed burlesque artist Lili St. Cyr, whose den was Ste. Catherine Street's Gayety Theatre, would greet crowds with her trademark phrase, "Hello Suckers!" 

The 1950s: Drapeau Cleans Up Montreal

This nightlife was quite open by American standards in the early part of the 20th century and continued this way until the 1950s, when Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau imposed a closing time on bars. This closing time was 3 a.m.  In the 1950s, Drapeau ran an investigation to discover the big names frequenting the burlesque houses and brothels in Montreal. 

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An old photo of Ben's Restaurant on Ste. Catherine Street West. 1908 - 2006. Ben's restaurant was a famous restaurant and deli that stayed open until 4 a.m. for revelers who needed a smoked meat sandwich (or a pot or two of coffee) before returning home. Photos of celebrities who had eaten at Ben's  - such as Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Elvis and dozens of others, lined the walls.
 
Beginning in the 1950s and continuing to the 1960s, Drapeau built the Metro subway system, then the famous Underground City, a collection of underground malls at each Metro stop so that Montrealers could shop without needing to go outside during the cold winter months. More convenient to residents who lived in the high-rise office and apartment towers that are built on top of the Metro stations, the underground city is a welcome respite for all those who suffer through Montreal's average January cold temperature of 5 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit. 



Copyright © The Insider's Pocket Guide to Montreal, Kathryn Esplin. 2007-2012.  Photos copyright © Kathryn Esplin 2007-2012. All rights reserved.