After spending $75 on Montreal Museum Passes, we schemed to maximize the benefits. Wednesday was our first day of three, but they don’t need to be consecutive. If our pass were with transportation, it would be a different story.
We started out by running around on Tuesday afternoon looking at the closing hours of each place we wanted to cluster on Wednesday. The published hours in the brochure are ‘in season’.
We worked out a plan to visit at least four places, have a break and then go to the theater in the evening. The play was at 8 pm.
Our first stop was the Château Ramezay, a historic site of Montreal. It is Quebec’s first site to be declared historic and listed in the “1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die”. If that list does not make me feel anxious, nothing will. What if I only get to 999? We actually spent more time here than I thought we would. Much of the history was local of course, but most of the people were those we had never heard of in the past. The gardens were non-existent, but this could have been a seasonal issue. Tickets would have been $10 for me and $9 for Ron.
Centre d’Histoire de Montreal includes the Notre Dame de Bon Secours Chapel, which is exquisite. It dates back to the 18th century. Marguerite founded a group of religious sisters called the Congregation of Notre Dame. Their primary roles were teaching the poor. In the back of the chapel, you can climb the tower. All I heard was 69 circular stairs followed by 29 more. I waited for Ron to trek up and down for the view of the city was not that important to me. Honestly, I felt we were wasting too much time here and wanted to move on. The chapel here was free, but the tower would have cost me $12 and $9 for Ron. Free with the pass.
A short walk away is the Centre d’Histoire de Montreal. Though there are three floors, it is not an overwhelming museum due to the layout. The first floor with the permanent exhibit called Traces. Places. Memories. has large rooms with many visuals: artifacts, colorful signs, video maps, and murals on walls. A good deal of the information was repetitive of the first museum, but still enjoyable. A temporary exhibit called Scandal! Vice, Crime and Morality in Montreal, 1940-1960 was interesting, but not knowing any of the locals mentioned in the exhibit, it was not a germane to us as it would be for locals. On the third floor, another temporary exhibit was really the least interesting. Described as it “takes visitors into the neighbourhood of Griffintown, as depicted through the lives and memories of the Mercier family. This francophone family has always lived in what is often considered an Irish, anglophone part of town. Their life stories will take us down the streets of an industrial sector that has undergone quite the metamorphosis.” It was mainly talking heads on video. This was a reasonable $6 for adults and $5 for seniors.
We thought we were doing fine with time, so we stopped at Xavier Artisan for lunch. It was a quaint little café with lots of exposed wood beams and a French flair in the décor. This fortified us for the last museum of the day.
Finally, at the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, they start you out with a 20-minute video, which at first does not sound very appealing. As it turns out, it is a masterful piece done in 3D covering the history of the area. It was in itself an incredible work of art. I really could have watched it multiple times. The permanent feature had a good deal of repetition from the other museums, but the layout was innovative. You walk through the old foundation of a building like a maze. However, what was novel and more interesting than I expected was the temporary exhibit on snow.
The display explains how embedded snow is in the Canadian psyche. There was a game where 12 photos sit across a board. In the center of the board were 12 buttons to play a sound. Players were to identify the sound and place a marker on the correct picture. I received 11 out of 12. The one I did not get early on was the snow angel sound. Most likely, because I hate the cold and making a snow angel is the last thing in the world I had ever wanted to do as a child. It was loads of fun and we left the museum minutes before closing. Admission for me would have been $20 and $16 for Ron.
The night was capped by seeing the play Butcher at the Centaur Theater. What an emotional ending to a magnificent day! If this Canadian play ever reaches you, we highly recommend it.