Of all the communities on the island, Old Montreal is the richest in historical landmarks, monuments and attractions. This comes as no surprise, considering it is indeed the oldest part of Montreal. The district is located in the Ville Marie borough of Montreal and is full of quaint shops, stunning art galleries and awardwinning restaurants.
Old Montreal holds special historical significance as the birthplace of the entire city as we know it today.
In 1642, a group of French settlers founded Montreal on a small strip of land on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The exact location is commemorated by the presence of the Pointe à Callière Museum, which sits atop the very site where the settlers arrived. The area, initially called Ville Marie, grew and experienced many changes in the years following its founding. The New France settlement became a full town under French control leading up to the 1760s, when the British gained control of the colony. In the 19th century, Old Montreal continued to thrive and became a central commercial hub in Upper and Lower Canada. It also was transformed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. In the early 1990s, the city continued to prosper and many important buildings were erected including the first stock exchange. Activity at the port remained brisk as well. However, the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929 impacted Old Montreal and many businesses died out, leaving their buildings abandoned. As the 1900s progressed, activity in Old Montreal slowly picked up again and most of the district obtained heritage status by midcentury. Old Montreal's status as a heritage site and several revitalization efforts have brought the district into the tourism spotlight in Montreal. Moreover, many old and previously abandoned buildings have been converted into sleek new condominiums and apartments, leading to an influx of new residents.
The cobblestone streets of Old Montreal are lined with art galleries, museums and other cultural attractions.
The Montreal Science Centre, located on King-Edward Pier in the Old Port, offers a range of interesting scientific activities and interactive experiences.
The centre also boasts an IMAX theatre. The Centre d'histoire de Montréal, on Place D'Youville, offers visitors a glimpse into the city's past, dating back to 1535. The Bank of Montreal Museum on St. Jacques St. is a rather unique museum dedicated to Canada's first bank, which dates back to 1817; exhibits include old banknotes and historical items.
Meanwhile, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum on St. Paul St. offers a look at 17th-century Montreal through the eyes of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Montreal's first teacher and one of the its founders. Last, the Pointe à Callière, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History on Place Royale, has exhibits representing six centuries of the city's history. It was opened in 1992, during Montreal's 350th birthday and has since become a landmark of Old Montreal. In addition to the many museums, the district is also home to festivals and activities year-round. One of the most popular spots in the area is Place Jacques Cartier, where street performers can be found entertaining both locals and tourists from all over the world.
Commerce and Restaurants
Old Montreal has a healthy level of commercial activity to meet the needs of its many residents and visitors. The area is home to over 500 businesses and services. In addition, people need not search hard for a gastronomic treat in Old Montreal, as the district has several highly touted eateries. With roughly 200 restaurants, there's something to suit just about anyone's taste and budget. Moreover, the area also has gourmet grocery shops, fashion boutiques, furniture stores and a slew of other specialty shops.
Many people would prefer to walk along the wellpreserved streets of Old Montreal rather than drive through them. Luckily, leaving the car at home is no problem as Old Montreal has no shortage of public transit. In fact, the area is served by three métro stops: Square Victoria, Place d'Armes and Champde Mars. Several buses also serve the district, including the 515 bus, which is dedicated to linking Old Montreal to the downtown core.