Out for a hike above the Guadalcacin Reservoir, Spain.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Arcos de la Frontera, Spain.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading towards Seville, Spain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Montreal Walking Tour

We purposely planned our VIA Rail trip from Halifax to Ottawa so that we would have a stopover for the day in Montreal. We had such a short time, but we made the most of it and we were lucky that it didn't rain so we were able to be outside pretty much the whole time.

Montreal is only 200 kms (120 miles) away from Ottawa, and even though we both grew up in the Ottawa area, neither one of us has visited Montreal very often. Anytime I've ever been there, I've been unimpressed, but I wanted to give it another chance. We wanted to play tourist in the downtown area and see what there is to see.

Montreal is of course located in the province of Quebec which is a unilingual French speaking province. But Montreal is very multi-cultural, and you won't have a problem finding someone who speaks English, especially in the downtown area. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population of around 2 million.

Our VIA Rail train arrived right downtown, so that when we left the building we were right in the centre of downtown. We walked over to the tourist office and spoke to a girl about what we should see in a four hour walking tour. She mapped out some ideas for us, and off we went!

Our first stop was the Marie-Reine-du-Monde Basilica Cathedral.

Built between 1870 and 1894.

It seems strange calling these buildings "old" after having see what old really is when we were in Europe. Canada is such a young country in comparison. 

The pulpit was a little different.

Then we wandered down St. Catherine's Street which is Montreal's main drag downtown. Great for people watching, but a few too many vagrants and homeless people for my liking. 

The Christchurch Anglican Cathedral. I thought it was neat how the office building behind it is perfectly centered with the church.

Notice my t-shirt. It was a cloudy day, but it was fairly warm!

This is some kind of modern art fountain display. I expect it would be kind of neat at night. It's supposed to be interactive where you can stand on the black boxes to get the water to do something different but we couldn't get it to do anything. Plus, we were afraid of getting wet!

Then we wandered through Chinatown. Some interesting shops there.

And then we made it to "Old Montreal". This is the original central area where the main cathedral and waterfront is. Interesting buildings, but most of them have been turned into restaurants and tourist shops.

Notre Dame Basilica.

The interior is very ornate.

There has been a church on this site since 1642, however the current building was constructed between 1824 and 1829 which is a very short time period for this type of building in those days. The church has undergone many renovations including repairs from a fire in 1978. 

Then we walked down to the waterfront. Not very inspiring, with quite a few older derelict buildings. You can see they're trying to clean it up though and they've put in some park space and a beach. The beach is pretty neat actually!

Looking towards the Clock Tower.

The beach. It's gated and closed at this time of year.

Us, and the view of downtown from the waterfront.

Can't remember the name of this street, but it was quite nice if you wanted to sit on a patio on a summer afternoon.

One of the streets in "Old" Montreal.

Then we walked back through downtown and up the paths and stairs that lead to the lookout in Mt. Royal Park. This is actually a really pretty area and it's popular with walkers and joggers. Lots of people climbing the stairs for exercise! And lots more doing it for the fabulous view...

Montreal, from the Mt. Royal Park lookout.

Overall, I am again left somewhat uninspired by Montreal. We had done a similar walking tour of Quebec City back in 2008 and we left that tour wanting to return someday. You can read about that here...

Given the choice, we would rather see more of Quebec City than more of Montreal. But, we're glad we took the time to explore and it was still an enjoyable day. 

We did 12.5 kms (8 miles).


  1. Nice tour, it has been a long time since I have been there.

  2. It's been a few years for us as well. On our last trip there, we discovered a tiny little pasta place where you could bring in your own booze. It just so happened that I had INSISTED that we should pick up some wine (there were four of us) before finding a place to eat, as we figured we'd take a bottle or two back to our hotel. Well, not only did we get to drink one of the bottles we had purchased, but the waiter opened it and served it to us! I think the four of us ate for something like 40 bucks, not including the wine.
    I began to like Montreal.

    1. I love the fact that you can do that in Quebec. They have been doing it for so long now. There are only a few restaurants in Ontario that do that, and that has only been in the last few years and on top of that they charge a hefty corking fee when they do.

  3. My best friend in high school was from Montreal and I always thought it would be such a romantic destination. Thanks for the virtual visit! As you know from your recent travels, even many of the 14th century churches we saw in Eastern Europe were also refurbished and rebuilt many times.

  4. Nice tour of Montreal too bad you did not have nicer weather, but at least no rain.

    1. The sun wasn't out but the temperature was great!

  5. Thanks for the tour of Montreal - we've never been there! My cousins here from the Harrisburg area visit Montreal a couple times a year just because they like to go there.

  6. I was at the Hydro Quebec building back in 1999, in January. Just walking down town was one of the coldest experiences of my life. My eyes actually hurt from the cold.
    Great town. I thought it was really pretty by the river.

    1. Yep, winter in Canada can get pretty cold for sure.

  7. Not as old as Europe but some of the buildings are still pretty fantastic. I've never been there so I enjoyed the walk.


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