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A Walk Along the Lachine Canal

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The opening of the Lachine Canal in 1825 signaled Montreal’s ascendance as a major center of industry and commerce. The canal was made obsolete by the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1970, but today has found new life as a park, with an excellent urban trail running along side its length.

Lachin Canal Montreal

Although it’s mostly known as a biking path, Jürgen and I decided to walk alongside the Lachine Canal, since we’d be stopping for pictures every few minutes, anyway. From the Old Port to the Lachine Lock, the trail’s length is 12.2 kilometers, and it took us about three hours to complete. Luckily, it’s easy and absolutely flat, so isn’t overly fatiguing despite its considerable length. But if you’re not taking tons of pictures, bikes are the best option.

The Lachine Canal takes you on a journey into Montreal’s industrial past, when the city’s economy was powered by industries like steel, iron and wood. Most of the factories which once lined the canal have since been turned into luxury condominiums, although some are simply ruins, and a few are still in operation.

Lachin Canal Montreal

The trail bounces between the north and south banks of the river, leading you over a few bridges, including the pale-green mechanical bulk of the Guaron Bridge, which was able to raise to a perpendicular level within a few minutes. You can also see the Lachine Coke Crane, which is the only remnant of the Montreal Coke and Manufacturing Co, established in 1927 (that’s “coke” as in “fuel made from coal“, not “bubbly caffeinated beverage.”)

Most of the touristy highlights are in the first half of the canal’s path, between the Old Port and the Coke Crane. The final five kilometers aren’t all that spectacular, as the highway runs next to the canal and ruins the mood with its noise. But even here, the trail is attractive, as it goes through woods and alongside the water.

At the end of the path, you’ll find the small Lachine Museum, which we decided to skip — after twelve kilometers of walking, we couldn’t bear the idea of even another fifteen minutes on our feet. Instead, we collapsed in the park near the Lachine Lock, the final stage before ships would re-enter the Saint Lawrence, and allowed the sun and the nearby sound of rushing water to lull us to sleep.

Locations on our Map: Guaron Bridge | Coke Crane | Lachine Lock

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Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
Lachin Canal Montreal
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June 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm Comments (0)

St. Patrick’s Basilica

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It might not surprise you to learn which group of immigrants built Saint Patrick’s Basilica. It was the Irish, who began arriving to Canada in the early nineteenth century. Set atop a hill in downtown Montreal, the imposing Gothic Revival church was completed in 1847.

The 1800s weren’t exactly good times in Ireland, with problems like overpopulation, famine, and tyrannical British rule forcing a huge percentage of the island’s population to leave home. Montreal was a natural choice for immigration: it wasn’t too far away, and the Irish felt comfortable in the mostly Catholic city. It didn’t hurt that French Canadians were just as antagonistic toward England as the Irish themselves.

From about 1815 on, thousands of Irish men and women arrived to Quebec every year; in 1847, the year of the Great Famine, over 100,000 made the journey. They went to work on the Montreal’s various construction projects, such as the Queen Victoria Bridge and the Lachine Canal. The city still has a huge percentage of residents who identify as Irish, and throws one of the continent’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day parades.

The first church in which the Irish congregated was the Notre-Dame des Bon-Secours, but that was soon too small for their growing numbers, and funds were raised for a new church to be built on a hill on the outskirts of the city. Today, Montreal has grown, and Saint Patrick’s Basilica is in the middle of downtown, enclosed by some of Montreal’s tallest skyscrapers.

The Gothic facade of the church is severe, with a jagged, grim countenance, but the interior is a different story entirely. Yellow-tinged stained-glass windows bathe the church in a warm light, and there’s art everywhere you look. Around the walls, you’ll find over 150 paintings of various saints, including St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Canada’s first aboriginal saint), along with fourteen large paintings which represent the stations of the cross.

Even the marble columns which support the church are noteworthy, especially when you realize they’re not marble at all. These are actually massive pieces of pine, each twenty-five meters high, which have been painted to resemble marble. Another interesting item in the church is a piece of bone from Saint Patrick himself, stored within a small side chapel next to the altar. (Catholicism’s macabre love for human relics has always baffled me.)

Leaving their homes behind and journeying to the New World surely wasn’t an easy thing to do, but Montreal’s Irish newcomers must have been pleased to have a church as beautiful as Saint Patrick’s in which to worship.

Location on our Map
Saint Patrick’s Basilica – Website

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May 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm Comments (0)
A Walk Along the Lachine Canal The opening of the Lachine Canal in 1825 signaled Montreal's ascendance as a major center of industry and commerce. The canal was made obsolete by the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1970, but today has found new life as a park, with an excellent urban trail running along side its length.
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