By Margaret Piton
Montreal is one of North Americaís most
historic and picturesque cities, and the best way to explore it is on foot.
Fortunately, most of the main attractions lie within a relatively small
Any walking tour of Montreal should start
where it all began, in the old city on the bank of the St. Lawrence River.
Montrealís ornate City Hall stands at the top and slightly
east of Place Jacque Cartier, named for the French explorer who was the
first European to visit this island in 1535. He claimed Montreal and its
surroundings in the name of the King of France, and in 1967 another French
leader, Charles de Gaulle, made his famous declaration ďVive le Quebec
libreĒ from the balcony of City Hall, urging Montrealers to return
to their roots.
Just across the street is an older lower
stone building, the Chateau de Ramezay, built in 1705 for the French governor
of Montreal. In the winter of 1775 American troops led by Benjamin
Franklin invaded the city and made their headquarters here. They
were as unsuccessful in rousing Montrealers to revolutionary fervor as
de Gaulle was nearly 200 years later. Today, the Chateau is a museum
open to the public, and is the only one of the chateaus from the old regime
Place Jacques Cartier itself is flower-filled
in summer and lined with outdoor cafes where Montrealers enjoy their favorite
sports, eating, drinking and people-watching. The statue atop a column
at the north end of the square commemorates Lord Nelson, hero of the battle
After exploring the Square and catching
a glimpse of the Old Port at its foot, (donít miss the laneway where local
artists sell their works,) walk west on Notre Dame Street a couple of blocks
to St. Laurent Boulevard, which divides east from west in this city.
Traditionally English Montreal lay to the west, French Montreal to the
east, and Jewish merchants owned most of the small shops on St. Laurent.
In the new vibrant, multicultural Montreal these distinctions are less
apparent. Montrealís modern court house sits at the intersection,
and you may see black-gowned lawyers plying their trade. Turn the
corner and start walking north on St. Laurent Boulevard. Or better
yet, jump in a taxi at the taxi stand or onto bus 55.ócash fare is $2.50
Just north of Old Montreal lies Montrealís
small Chinatown, where the streets are lined with Chinese restuarnats and
stores selling oriental souvenirs and handicrafts as well as exotic foodstuffs.
Another couple of blocks north at the corner of St. Laurent and Ste. Catherine,
is the traditional heart of Montrealís tenderloin district, seedy
Get off the bus or out of your taxi at
Sherbrooke Street The two blocks between Sherbrooke and Prince Arthur
contain some of Montrealís most glitzy restaurants and night clubs, and
are sure to be full of beautiful Ė and bars stay open until 3 a.m.
Prince Arthur east of St. Laurent is a pedestrian street popular with students
and street performers and noted for its restaurants. There is always something
happening at night on the street during summer.
Turn west on Prince Arthur and walk toward
University Street, through the McGill University student ghetto.
At the corner of Park Avenue you will encounter a multi building high rise
commercial and residential complex that is one of the largest complexes
in the world designed by a woman, Hungarian architect Eva Vecsei. But most
of the buildings in this area are charming Victorian houses that have been
converted to fraternity houses or condominiums and cooperative housing.
Turn left on one of the streets west of
Park Avenue and go one block south to Milton. Turn right on Milton
and cross at University to enter the leafy campus of McGill University,
Montrealís oldest and most famous institution of higher learning.
It was founded in 1821 by Scottish fur tycoon James McGill. The neoclassical
arts building in the center of the campus was for many years the only building.
Sir William Osler, Sir Ernest Rutherford , Dr. Wilder Penfield and Stephen
Leacock are just a few of the famous names associated with McGill, which
is particularly noted for its science and medical faculties.
Turn left and walk down toward the Roddick
Gates of McGill on Sherbrooke.Street. Pause to admire the flower
beds and flowering trees on McGill College Avenue, which ends at
Place Ville Marie. Turn right and continue to Stanley. On the
northeast corner stands the Mount Royal Club, Montrealís most exclusive
club, in an Italian Renaissance style building designed by Stanford White
. Continue one more block to Drummond, cross Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve
and continue until you reach the Mount Stephen Club, built in 1883 for
Lord Mount Stephen, one of the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Try to get a look at the magnificent wood paneling inside the building.
Turn right on Ste. Catherine and continue
to the next block, Mountain Street., home to Montrealís two finest department
stores. Ogilvy sits on the corner of Ste Catherine and is particularly
noted for its beautiful crystal chandeliers and designer boutiques.
If your favorite designer isnít there, walk two blocks north to Sherbrooke
and enter the Art Deco building housing Holt Renfrew, Canadaís premier
upscale retailer. Between the two stores you may want to check out
the wares at Chateau díIvoire, a top jeweler. Then continue one block
west to Crescent and check out the action on this famous street.
The Sir Winston Churchill Pub is particularly popular with locals and visitors
alike, or try the authentic Irish atmosphere and beer at the Claddagh.
After all that walking, you deserve it..