Roadside Adventures; 307; Old Montreal
IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S. Come with us as we travel north of the border over the big green river and through the glittering skyscrapers of modern day Montreal to catch up with this fascinating lady who is an expert when it comes to the history of Old Montreal.
That's right. Before there was smoke meets a Chinatown or even a big red apple sitting in the middle of it all. There were a few hundred here on Indians living here.
Then came the Europeans who built a walled city along the shores of the St. Lawrence River today with a good guide and a good pair of walking shoes. One can stroll back through time and visit Old Montreal a remarkably well-preserved early settlement that would play a critical role in shaping the future of an entire country. Join us. Inside the walls of old Montreal next on a roadside adventure.
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I love living in the Adirondack Mountains of far upstate New York.
The quiet miles of wilderness are my revery my salvation my peace of mind and they constantly refresh my soul.
But every once in a while I NEED A GOOD have the big city. And in these parts that's no problem because just an hour north of MY GOD IS THIS ME.
Montreal quote that one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world new skyscrapers and old neighborhoods blend together perfectly like the colors of a madras shirt.
And here your wish is the city's coming from great places to eat shop stay play and well you get the idea.
Not long ago however I discovered that historically anyway there are really two Montreal the modern day one with its shiny glass and Rome its bustling streets ringed with a variety of neighborhoods.
And then there is the old Montreal clinging to the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River along with its neighborhood.
It was here that the city began way back in 16 42 when a group of French settlers men and women arrived and planted their flag on a tip of land that is now a part of Old Montreal.
To get a firsthand look at the Old City we hooked up with one of the best professional guides we could find and that's how we met Fiona Maylands. Where'd you come from.
Well I came from England but my family is Irish. Well Fiona is an Irish name. That's right yes and she told you again and you've lived in Old City held since 77.
Why do seven to seven and you married a local boy as they say. That's right and you like it here don't I love it. You love the family part of the city. Yes. Yeah I would never move away. Good. Don't.
Fiona suggested we start our walkabout near the spot where the French settlers came ashore in sixteen forty two. Now the home of the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and history.
But just behind the Newseum we discovered an interesting tidbit of early Montreal history.
Well this looks rather impressive business AABA less symbolic of the start of Montreal perhaps.
Yes it has a list of the very first settlers who came here in sixteen forty two minutes today centered on this point of land between the St. Lawrence River.
I'm no saint now wait a minute that confuses me because I can see the St. Lawrence River it's just a half a block away. But you say there was another river over here.
Yes we're going to go. They got covered in the 19th century and the water was diverted and so a system saw the St-Pierre river still runs we just can't see it because it's underground.
That's right. What about this room right. Heard about this on the list actually being moved did not start life down there on the actual spot where they rowed ashore.
Well it certainly was moved and we now have the museum on the spot the alkie home.
I see the museum behind this was built so you just moved scooted this down a little bit right. That's very interesting and I also read somewhere that the city in the early days was actually surrounded by a wall.
Yes it was surrounded by a stone was in the eighteenth century and we have the foundations of the left if you like we could walk over and look at them. Which way this is a way of us will be interesting. So Derek can we see what's left of the stone fortifications. There was a double wall with a dry ditch on it rose about 20 feet. Wow a double wall.
So you need to get over the first wall. You had a bit of scaling to do and you were certainly vulnerable when you were in the ditch here well that's right you have indeed.
How long did the wall last. Well a belt in the sentry taken down in the 1820s.
So just about a hundred yards and I understand it as a wall is being taken down the threats from hostile individuals going away that there were little suburbs springing up out even before the wall was taken down there was suburbs springing up on the other side of the border.
And that's still going on today and that I'm still going on today as an example take a look at some more history. Yes let's go and have a look at Plas dump we have a monument to the founder of the city. OK.
And you know when you need a new meaning. Pretty impressive you got a flag and he looks like he owns the joint liaison I was the founder of the city the leader of this small group of French people who got off the boat down where we first started the show on second yet. Who are these people down around here.
You know class that was a soldier and he shone with his down peanuts.
So you even know the name of his dog. Yes indeed. What did he do he was a he was a solid OK and shallow one was a farmer.
He had 14 children 12 of them son were you one of them founded the city of New Orleans No kidding. The PM Dale fascinating and here we have a representation of the First Nations people who were here of course before the French and Iroquois. I'm finally John mom who claim loses John not Monza Jean that man who founded our first hospital the hotelkeeper hospital which still exists today.
Now I understand that these people were absolutely what's the word dedicated to spreading the word if you will.
Yes they founded monkey as a mission. They plan to evangelize and convert the local first nations to Roman Catholicism.
But that was a tough sell and that was a tough sell That's right. But I understand that the oldest remaining building. In Montreal is a cemetery or was a cemetery right. That's indeed correct in fact there's just over here we can walk over and have enough well let's go lead on.
It's just over here he said and they have their own little right. And as you know it's a black area the seminarians know how to do it I tell you.
So this is the oldest the oldest is the only building in Montreal and we're looking at this the stone part of this building and I thought Oh that's right.
So six hundred forty one 16 18 you're going to die. Yes sixteen thousand five.
But now look at that just right off the street. And you're in this wonderful little courtyard.
Isn't this nice.
So you notice the French architecture the very rough Strawn the steeply pitched roof the dormer windows. Yeah. And this was a seminary now it is the prez but tree of the not too down Basilica and we have 22 Roman Catholic priest. Oh OK.
Because that's really I mean listen to step out there and just go find some restraints.
Now since we are right next door to one of the greatest cathedrals in Canada the Notre Dame Basilica it would make sense to take the tour now but the interior of this place is so spectacular that we're going to save it for the end of the program. In the mean time Fiona showed us one of the classiest hotels in all of Montreal.
Never mind old city across the street here we have the all directions Bank of Canada and this is now what appear to be the most expensive hotel in the city you know where there's a room go far Well you won't get much on a $400 a night but you might pay as much as $4000 a month for web Allison dollars a night.
But that's Canadian. And yes it's already a little bit cheaper. I understand you're in a whole band stay there.
The Rolling Stones took over the entire hotel that's amazing and the windows are still intact. Who else. Julia Roberts stay bad Leonardo DiCaprio together there's a waiting room area I think. It's going to feel cheap. I like it it's pretty it's nice. What else. Let's have a look at something else down here.
It's so timeless I mean you take down the stop signs and take out the parking meters and you're in what you're here 17 25 when this house was 17 20 feet high.
That's right and that's a really good example of French architecture and steeply pitched roofs and chimneys That's right exactly. And the cobble stone is that new world or old world called the St. John's which were covered over with ash and they are being uncovered. But they are the original couple stones and this chapel has quite a story here. This chapel stands on the site the very first one constructed in the 17th century by a lady called Marguerite bushwah and she was well known and she was a teacher.
She also founded the congregation of knotted up and she was responsible for looking after the go from France to marry the young girl sent over from France by the king or the fourteenth. Why did he do that. He wanted to make sure his mission setting went on to become a large metropolitan area very successfully because now we have three and a half million people. Yes. Yes indeed.
Now most of the streets I've noticed in Old Montreal are pretty straight but this one has kind of crept to it let's start.
Well it follows the outline of the St. Lawrence River which is just one block on our right and as the river swung the streets one and it stayed like that even though the buildings were originally 70 and rebuilt in the 19th century.
This compass remained.
That's wonderful. Probably is an old path along a long or whatever that may be for the Europeans maybe own. Possibly yes.
You're through for that.
Now Hotel de Ville doesn't mean this is the hotel of the city that's not a chore.
It actually means city home. The word hotel has other meanings in French. This is a building the 1870s. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1922 and it's had many famous events occurred there like that while in 1967. We have the president of France here and he went out on that balcony I thought that someone famous So maybe infamous words that was shot a goal you might even remember here yes.
Cheryl to go you there. What did he say. He leaves a Long Live Free or separate. So that's where it all started. That's right.
Well we go back we must play out like the old me. You think I mean this I really enjoyed this tour is a good cure.
What do you say we wind it up with the biggest most impressive edifice of all not to Don Basilica.
Yeah right down this way right. No it's this way this way I knew this way I knew that I was certain I know far down the street.
There has been a church on this site since 16 72 but an ever expanding Catholic congregation necessitated the construction of a larger sanctuary and so over the history of Montreal the Notre Dame Basilica has grown larger while becoming a major piece of Montreal history and one of the city's most stunning landmarks.
By 18 24 work had begun on the basilica you see today and was completed in just five years under the direction of the New York based Irish architect James O'Donnell.
The church was elevated to that of minor Basilica during Pope John Paul the second visit to Montreal in 1981 by the way.
Fiona tells me that James O'Donnell the architect from New York. Well it is rumored that he so loved his effort that he converted to Catholicism on his deathbed. And it is also said he was buried beneath his beloved church. Let's go inside and I think you will see why James O'Donnell was so moved by his own skill which he certainly must have believed were a gift from the greatest architect of all.
The interior of the basilica is a grand interpretation of heaven on earth. The ceiling is decorated with gold stars against a heavenly blue which intensifies as it arcs downward behind the high altar. Hundreds of wood and stone carvings ring the sanctuary some covered in gold leaf. Others elaborately painted in bright colors with gold and silver accents and some simple in their natural stone collars have a soft and comforting luster stained glass windows depicts scenes from throughout the history of Montreal celebrating the founding of the city. As a Catholic mission the notre dumba silica is considered by archaeology historians to be one of the most beautiful examples of neo gothic style in all of Canada and it is visited by thousands of faithful worshippers and the curious every year. Almost overwhelming at first sight the basilicas huge interior was deemed too large for most weddings. So a smaller chapel the Sacred Heart Chapel was built in 1880 eight behind the main altar and has been the site of countless wedding ceremonies over the years.
I was surprised by it frankly that flash pictures were being taken because I saw several modest signs which discourage doing so.
But non-Flash and home video are permitted so don't forget to take your camera. The basilica is Prize for its a pearl acoustics which are made abundantly clear when the spectacular cast of an organ completed in 1891. Lets loose with all of it seven thousand pipes when it first opened. The basilica was the largest religious edifice in North America and it still stands as a stunning example of what can be wrought by the hearts and hands of people who are motivated by a single faith.
Production of roadside adventures is made possible in part by Canada operates around in all regions of Canada spanning the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
With natural wonders all along the Bay of Fundy New Brunswick where there's something by New York Natural Wonders while enjoying a nature walk on to the natural stone bridge one hundred fifty six feet below the earth's surface of the rocks and by guide boat people get along it's providing services to buyers and sellers of Adirondack properties meeting your needs every step of the way to your guy.
Old Montreal languished almost forgotten for decades as the dazzling skyscrapers of Center City turned everyone's fancy but slowly and with boundless determination to revive and preserve its earliest history. Montreal has been working hard to make the old city one of the metropolitan areas a prime tourist attractions. Cruise ships come and go frequently. Curious travels from around the world. Excellent hotels with five star accommodations are accessible and affordable. Sidewalk restaurants provides a fair weather visitors an excellent rest parried menu and the perfect bird for people watching fine ethnic eateries from Mexicans the Mediterranean by the passing pass. And shopping from the exotic and pricey to souvenir teachers and blinking buttons can easily be an all day affair when you go. Remember to take Canadian currency although most places will take just about any credit card. I've even used my card to purchase a single bottle of soda. Talk about comedy. And yes Montreal is primarily French speaking. But in all my many visits there I have yet to be stumped by a language I do not speak or to stump a Montrealer with my foreign tongue. There are just too many common or close to common words shared by our two languages and they are often enough to get by. Two of my favorites by the way are Bo K and say.
Well that's it. That's all the time we have for this edition of roadside adventures. First of all a big thank you to Fiona for showing us some of the marvelous historic sites in this incredible city. I hope we pique your interest. Come on up. After all the people are friendly the food is delicious and in Old Montreal history is around every corner for videographer marks that cost us under saying Thanks for watching and I hope you can tune in again next time when we head out down the road in search of us another roadside adventure.
Okay say Nener shouldn't go. Oh you do. OK. Down yonder beer all day. Yeah that's OK.
That is your business here.
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IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S IT'S.
Walk with us back in time as we travel from modern Montreal to a remarkably well-preserved early Canadian settlement that would play a critical role in the shaping of the future of Canada.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Roadside Adventures
- Episode Number
- Old Montreal
- Producing Organization
- Mountain Lake PBS
- Contributing Organization
- Mountain Lake PBS (Plattsburgh, New York)
- AAPB ID
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/113-8605qv7d).
Host: Zekauskas, Mark
Producer: Muirden, Derek
Producing Organization: Mountain Lake PBS
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE)
Identifier: 5632A (MLPBS)
Format: Betacam SP
Generation: Master: backup
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- Chicago: “Roadside Adventures; 307; Old Montreal,” 2005-03-15, Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_113-8605qv7d.
- MLA: “Roadside Adventures; 307; Old Montreal.” 2005-03-15. Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_113-8605qv7d>.
- APA: Roadside Adventures; 307; Old Montreal. Boston, MA: Mountain Lake PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_113-8605qv7d