Visiting Boulevard Robert-Bourassa / Robert Bourassa Boulevard, Montreal, Quebec: Remembering a Long-Serving Premier
A green and welcoming public space.
A few years ago part of rue University / University Street, Montreal, Quebec, was renamed Boulevard Robert-Bourassa / Robert Bourassa Boulevard. This Boulevard passes through some central locations of Downtown Montreal, including Place Ville-Marie (1).
The Boulevard is a very wide street, with its southern part opening out onto Autoroute 10. Between the north- and south-bound roadways an elongated greened over park area has been inaugurated. Former Mayor of Montreal Denis Corderre, who spearheaded the name change and development of Boulevard Robert-Bourassa / Robert Bourassa Boulevard, was of the intention that with its park area this urban Boulevard should be a welcoming public space rather than simply a connector road to Auroroute 10 with frequently heavy traffic (2).
The name of the Boulevard commemorates long-serving Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa (1933-1996). His periods of office were from 1970 until 1976 and from 1985 until 1994; within Quebec he thus may be said to have truly dominated an era. Significant events during his Premiership included the October Crisis of 1970, when he cooperated with Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau in the implementation of the War Measures Act, following the kidnapping and murder of Minister Pierre Laporte. (This perceived closeness to Mr. Trudeau arguably cost him support in 1976, when elections in Quebec brought Sovereigntist René Lévesque (1922-1987) to office.) He was later more distant to Mr. Trudeau in relation to other measures, the implementation of which he was closely associated, namely, the strengthening of laws to protect the position of French within Quebec, which is arguably among Robert Bourassa's most abiding legacies.
After the name change of some of rue University / University Street a number of years ago, some people in Montreal thought that, because Université McGill / McGill University (3) has many of its buildings in proximity, then the Villé de Montréal / City of Montréal should have 'owed' it to McGill to retain the name rue University / University Street on all of the street, rather than having renamed some of it. (Presumably among the detractors of the change were those who disagreed with the language legislation for which Robert Bourassa is particularly remembered.) These kinds of arguments are of course never-ending.
April 7, 2020
(1) I have supplied, above, a photo taken at night from 1 Place Ville Marie, showing the Boulevard and the Saint-Laurent / Saint Lawrence beyond.
(2) See also (in French) : https://www.tvanouvelles.ca/2017/09/06/loeuvre-dart-source-devoilee-sur-le-nouveau-boulevard-bonaventure
(3) Founded 1821, Université McGill / McGill University is among the world's leading universities with a highly rated research record, with which 12 Nobel Prizewinners, 145 Rhodes Scholars, various national leaders from around the world, and numerous sports personalities have been been associated.
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
The architectural and cultural attractions of Montreal are too numerous to mention here, but of special note, among many others, are the domed Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), dating from 1847, which was a venue used to house the Parliament of United Canada, prior to Confederation. The Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal) was built mainly between 1824 and 1829; many Montrealers attend annual performances of Handel's 'Messiah' there. The Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, used for the 1976 Olympics, has the the world's tallest inclined tower, at 175 metres.
Mont-Tremblant (distance: 133 kilometres), in the Laurentian Mountains (Laurentides) is ideal for scenic excursions, golf and skiing; its boutiques attract many shoppers.
How to get there: Air Canada flies to Montreal (Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal) from Toronto-Pearson, and from New York-Newark and New York-La Guardia, with wide connections. A number of car rental companies offer service at Montreal-Trudeau airport; however, much of Downtown Montreal is suitable to explore on foot or by public transport. McGill Métro station is close to Boulevard Robert-Bourassa / Robert Bourassa Boulevard. VIA Rail maintains regular services with Toronto and Windsor. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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