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

The Old Port of Montreal

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In 1976, the same year as it would be hosting the Summer Olympics, Montreal moved its port a few kilometers downstream, opening up a significant section of prime riverside land in the historic center. The Old Port was redeveloped in the 1990s and has since become one of Montreal’s favorite hangout zones, with parks, museums, activities, cafes and even a beach.

Old Port Montreal

Over six million people visit the Old Port of Montreal every year. It didn’t surprise me to learn that, because during the day we spent walking around, I counted at least half that many. Of course, we were there on the first truly warm day of the year, which was also a Saturday. It had been a long and cold spring, and with the long-anticipated arrival of good weather, everyone in Montreal grabbed their picnic baskets, bikes and kids, and ran straight toward the water.

We started our exploration of the port district at the Montreal Clock Tower, which was built in 1919 and dedicated to the Canadian casualties of World War I. The tower marks the easternmost end of the park, and you can climb its stairs for a view of the area.

Old Port Montreal

During summer weekends, there’s almost always some sort of event at the Old Port. While we were visiting, a multimedia exhibit called Chromatic had occupied one of the old storehouses. Inside, we found interactive installations, sculptures and weird art. We spent probably fifteen minutes watching Guillaume Marmin’s project Hara: in a dark room filled with smoke, a geometric set of lasers burn intricate patterns into the air. Randomly discovering such a cool festival felt like a very Montreal type of experience.

Old Port Montreal

We continued walking around outside. Above our heads, people were zip-lining over the port. There were kids playing soccer, mountain climbers scaling an old tower, frustrated sunbathers lamenting that the Clock Tower beach hadn’t yet opened for the year, couples renting paddleboats, friends drinking at various beer gardens, and families heading into the cool of the IMAX theater and Science Museum.

Although these activities looked fun, we were content just to slowly walk south along the river, and take it all in. Elements of the Old Port’s former life as a shipping center were all around, from the store houses to docks, lending a authentic charm to the area. It’s nice to see that a formerly industrial zone like this can find such a great new purpose.

Location on our Map: Old Clock Tower
Old Port –

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June 14, 2016 at 12:49 pm Comment (1)

The Montreal Science Centre

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A huge complex located within the Old Port, the Montreal Science Centre introduces children to the worlds of science and technology with hands-on workshops, experiments and games. The focus of this center is almost entirely on kids, but we were drawn by a temporary exhibit called “Animal Inside Out.”

Science Center voiles en voiles

Adults aren’t going to get much out of the Montreal Science Centre’s permanent exhibits, but kids will have a blast. The museum’s main attraction is called “Human,” and explores the human body with a wide-range of activities that exercise all of the senses. Another permanent exhibit is the “Creative Factory,” which is basically the high-tech playground of every child’s dreams, although it’s questionable whether any scientific knowledge seeps into their brains as they spin themselves around on a disc, play with derby cars, or forge two-meter whirlwinds in a chamber.

Luckily, the Montreal Science Centre also has awesome temporary exhibits, and “Animal Inside Out” is probably one that should carry an NC-17 rating. If I’d seen this as a kid, I’d have nightmares for a week! The title was accurate: it features real animals (including humans) displayed from the inside out. They’ve been peeled back layer-by-layer, revealing the muscles which lay under the flesh, the capillary systems, the internal organs and the bones.

Science Center voiles en voiles

It’s the work of German scientist Gunther von Hagen, who sparked controversy years ago with his famous Body Works exhibit, which used the same embalming technique (called “plastination”) on humans. We never had the chance to see Body Works, but “Animal Inside Out” was fascinating. You don’t realize just how similar humans are to other species until you start stripping back the layers.

Science Center voiles en voiles

The Science Centre also has an excellent IMAX theater, which shows both nature documentaries and mainstream hits like Star Wars. And nearby, there’s another outdoor attraction that kids will love. Voiles en Voiles is a pirate-themed aerial adventure park where children can harness up to climb ropes, crawl across logs and speed down ziplines. It looks like a blast; if I were twelve again, I would try to spend every day here.

Locations on our Map: Montreal Science Centre | Voiles en Voiles
Montreal Science Centre – Website
Voiles en Voiles – Website

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April 20, 2016 at 7:18 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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