Let's start with downtown. McGill College Avenue is Montreal in microcosm: a wide boulevard on which stands steel and glass skyscrapers that are flanked by granite, limestone, and brick buildings. The road ends after only four blocks at the gates to the scenic grounds of McGill University, but the view continues up Mount Royal to the cross that stands on the northeastern summit. The original wooden cross was planted in 1643 by the city’s founder as thanks to the Virgin Mary for sparing the settlement from flooding. The current cross was installed in 1924. Photo courtesy Denis Chabot, 2004.
Southeast of downtown past the elevated Ville-Marie expressway is the historic district of Old Montreal and the Old Port. The cobblestoned streets and alleys lit by gas lamps have been carefully preserved to evoke the days when Montreal was the capital of Canada and one of the most important economic communities in North America. To add to the atmosphere, horse-drawn carriages take visitors on tours, and the area hosts many open-air markets, exhibitions, and historical re-enactments during the warmer months. Photo courtesy Richard McGuire, 2009.
To the west of the downtown core on a steep slope of Mount Royal is the aptly-named community of Westmount, which historically has been home to wealthy English families since the nineteenth century. Many homes there stand on narrow streets that climb the mountain in a series of curves and switchbacks, giving residents wonderful views that they protect fiercely with building height restrictions. Westmount is also notable for its refusal to change the name of one of its main thoroughfares Dorchester Blvd after the city of Montreal renamed its portion after the late premier of Quebec, René Lévesque. Photo courtesy Montreal Photo Daily, 2011.