Friday, October 10, 2008

Montreal 2008

Once again Davids work has required his travel for a conference and this time we decided to make the most of it and create a break away at the same time. The conference was in Montreal so we decided to take a couple of weeks exploring the Province of Quebec.

We were staying at the conference hotel, the Hilton in the Bonaventure Centre in downtown. The Bonaventure Centre (and the hotel) are perhaps the worst piece of architecture in the whole city so I couldn't dedicate a photo to the building as it too closely resembles a 1960's concrete multi-storey carpark.

While the room itself was fine, the layout of the building was ridiculous too. Laid out as a huge quad with a very long walk and several steps from one end to the other and no option to use an elevator with heavy luggage etc unless you are actually going from one separate floor to another.

However, this is the view North up Rue University from the corner of Rue Notre-Dame. The Hilton can be seen on the left hand side.

Our room.

While David was attending the conference and presenting his case-study I took the opportunity to explore the city. Montreal has a main downtown core, adjacent to the Old Town which is a well preserved historic district. This post covers the main sights of the downtown, with the old town images coming in the next post.
Like most of Quebec, Montreal has a deeply religious background so most city squares and main streets are anchored by historic churches or cathedrales.
This one is the Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary Queen of the World Cathedral). Built in 1894 it is a quarter-scale replica of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. It was also a bold statement by the Catholic Church to build it in the centre of what was at the time the Protestant heart of the city.

The view South along the West side of the Cathedral.

This statue for Bishop Ignace Bourget who commissioned the construction of the Cathedral but died in 1885 so never saw the finished building.

Dorchester Square honoring Wilfred Laurier, the Prime Minister for Canada from 1896 to 1911.

St Georges Anglican Church

Down on the waterfront, the view from the Old Port leads to Habitat 67, or 2600 Pierre Dupuy Avenue as it's official address is known. This odd looking complex was built for Expo 67 as a famed architectural masterpiece, to house the dignitaries who attended the event and as a long-term goal to provide low-cost housing close to the City. The irony of the development however is that because of it's clever design enabling each apartment unit to have it's own garden and the feeling of a house, plus it's close proximity to the waterfront & downtown means it's now one of the most sought-after and subsequently expensive addresses in Montreal.

This cruise ship, the Crystal Symphony was docked in the port. It had arrived on it's 'New England & Canada' tour which started in New York. It was about to make the return journey.

Fountains in the waterfront park

This is the view North back towards downtown from the Old Port.

Looking South to Ile Ste-Helene which houses the Biosphere built again for Expo 67 and is now the home to a museum of the St Lawrence River,

Looking North towards downtown across Bassin Bonsecours.

The view East showing the Old Port Clock Tower and the Jacques Cartier Bridge behind.

Finally, some beautiful autumnal colours in Bassin Bonsecours. It turned out our trip was perfectly timed to coincide with the fall colours so we had some great sights along our trip - no Photoshopping required here !

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