As we approached the Marché Maisonneuve, our excitement grew. We love visiting markets, especially when they’re set inside buildings as beautiful as this one. But within seconds of stepping inside, our enthusiasm disappeared. The market which once graced its interior is gone, and the building is now used as a community center. Today, there was an amateur arts and crafts show.
Cutting straight across the Island of Montreal, Boulevard Saint Laurent is considered to be the dividing line between the city’s French-speaking half on the east, and the English half to the west. Known colloquially as “The Main,” the neighborhoods which line themselves along the boulevard, from north to south, are home to various populations of immigrants.
As we were walking through the Underground City, near the Place des Arts, I spied a poster out of the corner of my eye. Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be playing in a couple days. They’ve long been one of my favorite bands, and I had completely forgotten they were from Montreal. Before Jürgen had a chance to protest, I raced over to the counter and scored us a couple tickets.
Five hundred years ago, Western civilization didn’t even know about the existence of Montreal Island. The Renaissance was just winding down in Europe, as the first wooden houses were being erected in a settlement called Ville-Marie. So, in order to evolve into a modern-day metropolis, Montreal has had to cram a lot into its short history. Here’s a brief rundown of the highlights.
If your thirst for history isn’t quenched after visiting the Archaeology and History Complex Pointe-à-Callière, then walk a few dozen meters down the Place d’Youville and into the Montreal History Center. I’m not sure we’ve visited another city which has two history museums in such close proximity to each other, let alone two as impressive as these.
A vast network of tunnels leading to practically all of downtown Montreal’s shopping malls, food courts, office buildings, metro stations, museums and theaters, the so-called Underground City enables people to get around without ever having to step foot outside. And in this city, that can often be a real life-saver.
Established in 1909, the Montreal Canadiens are the world’s oldest still-active hockey team, as well as its most successful, having won more Stanley Cups than any other. We arrived in Montreal at the tail end of the 2015-16 campaign, and snatched up tickets for one of the final matches of the year. How could we ever claim to “know” Montreal, if we hadn’t seen the Canadiens take the ice?
The day after we arrived in Montreal, a freak snowstorm hit the city, stranding us indoors. We would have rather been outside exploring, but the bad weather provided an excuse for us to sit down and read about our new home. Here are the facts and figures that jumped out at us.
For the sixteenth edition of our “For 91 Days” travel project, Jürgen and I chose Montreal: the second-largest city in Canada, and a multilingual hotbed of culture and the arts. We arrived at the beginning of April with no prior knowledge of the city and no expectations. So we were excited to see what Montreal had to offer us, and would be giving the city 91 days to impress us.