Walking Tour of Montreal, Canada
The city of Montreal is one of the largest (#2) in Canada, and its proximity to the United States (60 miles from the border) makes it extremely popular with Americans as well. One of its defining characteristics is the fact that it is truly a bilingual city. As part of the province of Quebec, the official language is French, but Montreal is a modern city, with myriad international connections. Thus, English is widely spoken and absolutely necessary in order to engage in foreign trade and commerce. The city is very large and some attractions are separated by miles, however, the oldest part of the city, Vieux Montreal, and the downtown area, can be negotiated on foot.
My walk begins in Montreal’s most beautiful square, Place Jacques-Cartier, which lies at the northern end of the Old Town, near the Old Port. The sloping area is home to the Horatio Nelson Monument, street performers, cafes, and flower markets.
At the top of the hill and to the right, across Rue Notre-Dame, is Montreal’s City Hall. Check out the interior before crossing the street to Chateau Ramezay, once the home of French and then English governors. It was built in 1705.
After the visit, retrace you steps on Rue Notre-Dame, past Place Jacques-Cartier. On your right is the Palais of Justice. Several blocks further ahead, on the left, is the famous Nore Dame Basilica. Its lighted, blue interior is one of the most stunning in the world. Across the street is the Place d’Armas. The monument here is dedicated to the city’s founder, Paul de Chomedey, sierur de Maisonneuve. Proceed through the square and cross Rue Saint-Jacques to see the Bank of Montreal Museum.
Exit at the northern side of the square and turn left, past the Congress Building and through Montreal’s Chinatown. The street name changes to Rue Saint-Urbain and then continues west into the Arts District. Turn left (south) on Rue Sainte-Catherine. The Museum of Contemporary Art is ahead on the right.
Continue south on Rue Sainte-Catherine. Just past the corner of Union Street, you will see the Christ Church Cathedral, on your right. It position, in front of a glass-and-steel skyscraper is dramatic. There is even an underground shopping area beneath the church.
Continue westward, after your visit, to Rue Crescent. Take a right here and spend some time wandering the area, which is replete with boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Continue on Crescent to Rue Sherbrooke. Now, turn left to visit Montreal’s finest art museum, Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, on the right side of the boulevard.
After your visit, walk back on Rue Sherbrooke to the entrance of McGill University, on the left. Then turn right onto Rue McGill College. On your left is an intriguing sculpture, The Illuminated Crowd, worth a perusal and a photo. Continue on this road to Boulevard Rene-Levesque and turn right. Ahead, on your left, is the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, noteworthy because it was built as a 1/3 scale model of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Turn left at the next intersection, walking east on Rue de la Cathedrale. The Montreal Planetarium is a few blocks ahead, on Rue Saint-Jacques. A stop here might be a worthwhile diversion for a while. Now walk north on Rue Saint-Jacques, which leads back into Vieux Montreal. When you reach Rue Saint-Pierre, turn right and walk east till you reach the Montreal History Center, a museum devoted to the city’s development and changes over the years.
When finished, walk north on Place d’Youville to Place Royale, the oldest square in the city. The Archaeological Museum is located here, if you are interested. Turn left at Place Royale and then right on Rue Saint-Paul. Continue walking past Place Jacques-Cartier to the Bonsecours Market, a domed building complete with Doric columns.
At the next corner is the Sailor’s Church, Eglise Notre-Dame de-Bonsecours, whose tower provides memorable views of Vieux Montreal and the Old Port. Directly across the street from the churhc is the Calvet House, a home built in 1725. Now, walk west (away from the riverfront) on Rue Bonsecours to Rue Notre-Dame, then turn left to return to Place Jacques-Cartier, where the walking tour began.