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Visiting Mount Royal: Commanding Views of Montreal, Quebec

Updated on May 9, 2018
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Commanding views of Montreal's Downtown, seen from Mount Royal's Belvedere.
Commanding views of Montreal's Downtown, seen from Mount Royal's Belvedere. | Source
The imposing form of St. Joseph's Oratory, on Mount Royal
The imposing form of St. Joseph's Oratory, on Mount Royal | Source
A 19th century map of Montreal
A 19th century map of Montreal | Source

Unrivalled perspectives of a great Francophone, North American city

Mount Royal (Mont Royal ), in Quebec's great city of Montreal, is one of the most interesting and picturesque parts of the city and region. It is part of Mount Royal Park (Parc du Mont-Royal ), planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, also responsible for New York's Central Park, and many other great projects.

Some toponymy and geography

Mount Royal was originally named for French King François I in 1535. It is part of a range of hills known as the Collines Montérégiennes, and, indeed, as well as (via Middle French) to the city of Montreal, it has given its name to the region of Montérégie .

However, in French the word mont corresponds not with 'hill', but with 'mountain', yet, in time honoured fashion, the phrase Mont Royal has stuck. Significantly, Mount Royal itself is not within the administrative region of Montérégie to which it also gives its name, but rather it is on the island of Montreal, where the surrounding, great city grew.

At its highest point, Mount Royal rises to 233 metres.

The Kondiaronk Belvedere

This Belvedere, on Mount Royal, has for more than a century offered visitors impressive views of Downtown Montreal, the St. Lawrence River (Fleuve Saint-Laurent ) and the Monteregian hills beyond.

The skyline of Downtown Montreal has, of course, much altered during this period.

St. Joseph's Oratory

Mount Royal's St. Joseph's Oratory ( Oratoire Saint -Joseph du Mont-Royal) , which is Canada's largest church building, has been a part of the Montreal skyline since the 1920s, replacing an earlier church. Work on this basilica began in 1924, finally being completed in 1967; much of the exterior of this huge building was the work of French monk and architect Dom Paul Bellot (1876-1944)..

The Montreal-born carillonneur Emilien Allard (1915-1977) who studied in Belgium and France, notably with Olivier Messiaen , and others, wrote numerous works for carrillon and was a longstanding carillonneur at St. Joseph's Oratory; he subsequently became carillionneur at the Peace Tower, Ottawa.

...and a little more history

A number of prominent residents have been associated with Mount Royal, also the name of an adjoining suburb. These include more than one Prime Minister of Canada. In 1965, a certain law professor stood for the Federal Parliament for the Mount Royal riding, and was elected. His name: Pierre Elliott Trudeau .

History ensued.

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. VIA Rail maintains regular services with Toronto and Windsor. Please 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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