After a couple of hours on the road we made a short comfort stop at a Dunkin' Donuts in Burlington, before a short painless wait at customs as we crossed into Canada and, after an hour or so drive, we had our first sight of Canada's second city Montreal.
On the way to our hotel we had a tour of the city with our guide pointing out various places of interest, such as The Sun Life Building in Dorchester Square, where Britain's Gold reserves, negotiable securities and Crown Jewels were stored during WW2 for safe keeping.
on July 1, 1940, they were locked in an underground vault three stories beneath the Sun Life Building, guarded around the clock by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The gold was shipped on to Ottawa.
over the next few years to pay for Britain's war expenses. The 5,000 Sun Life employees never knew what was stored away beneath them and not a single piece of the cargo went missing nor was any information about the operation ever leaked.
We passed the Marie-Rein-Du-Monde Cathedral, which is a one third replica of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Another interesting site is the French Metro entrance, the only one in Montreal, on Victoria Square opposite the statue of Queen Victoria.
Our next stop was Place d'Armes, a square in the old quarter of Montreal. In the centre of the square there is a monument in memory of Paul de Chomnedey (February 15, 1612 – September 9, 1676), a French military officer and the founder of Montreal in New France
Notre-Dame Basilica. In 1657, the Roman Catholic Sulpician Order arrived in Ville-Marie, now known as Montreal; six years later the seigneury of the island was vested in them. They ruled until 1840. The parish they founded was dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary, and the parish church of Notre-Dame was built on the site in 1672. A beautiful building from the outside
windows along the walls of the sanctuary do not depict biblical scenes, but rather scenes from the religious history of Montreal.
Other interesting architecture is Habitat 67, a model community and housing complex designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It was originally conceived as his master's thesis in architecture at McGill University and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67 the World's Fair 1967.
Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.
Old Montreal in 1814. The cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1856. The present cathedral was completed in 1859 and consecrated in 1867. In the 1980s, a vast real estate project was undertaken below the cathedral. The project consisted of a 34-floor skyscraper, Tour KPMG built north of the Cathedral, underground parking, and two levels of retail stores situated beneath the cathedral. For a period in 1987, the Cathedral was supported on stilts while footings for the underground mall, Promenades Cathedrale were excavated.
We were taken below ground into the malls where we were able to see the fascinating storyboard showing how the cathedral was supported during the excavation. Click on pics to biggify.
This sculpture, The Illuminated Crowd, where 65 people of all ages, race, facial expressions and conditions are depicted on four platforms, illustrates the degradation of the human race and symbolizes the fragility of the human condition. It is quite 'dark' in places, but fascinating just the same.
Whilst this sculpture, Gardons Le Soleil - Keep the sun in Montreal, immediately lifts your spirits.
Back on the coach our last stop before the hotel was Mount Royal, with it's wonderful views of the city.
. He named it in honour of his patron, Francis I of France. He wrote in his journal:
And among these fields is situated and seated the said town of Hochelaga, near to and adjoining a mountain ... We named this mountain, Mount Royal.It is a corruption of the name Mount Royal which gives the city its present day name of Montreal.
We also had a magnificent view of the Olympic Stadium which dominates the skyline
Are We There Yet? Well, after seeing my account and photographs of the meet-up on Facebook another friend I met through blogging, Ann who lives in Montreal, mentioned it was a shame we wouldn't be visiting her city. Well of course we were, so before we arrived we were able to arrange to meet up for dinner on our first evening!
We told Ann where we were staying and she stayed late at work and came to our hotel to meet us. She found us a lovely little French restaurant she'd been to before and we had a great couple of hours enjoying good food and conversation.
I hope you enjoyed our first day in Montreal and will join me in Part 6 when we visit Quebec for the day.