January 21, 2010

Montreal – Parc du Mont-Royal

Montreal got its name from the hill that rises behind the spires of downtown office towers, affectionately known to Montrealers as "The Mountain" or "Mont-Real". The hill was made into a public park according to plans by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York's Central Park, with a broad pedestrian only road and smaller footpaths for strollers, joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters.

There are several routes to reach the top of the hill – the quickest and most strenuous approach, which I took, was taking the steep sets of stairs that go directly to the Chalet du Mont-Royal and its lookout. The chalet was constructed from 1931 to 1932 and has been used over the years for receptions, concerts, and various other events. At the front terrace, the beautiful panaroma of the city beneath made the climb all worthwhile.

The steep set of stairs

Skyline of downtown Montreal

About 10 minutes walk from the chalet is the Croix du Mont-Royal. Legend has it that a wooden cross was erected here in 1643 after the young colony survived a flood threat. The present steel cross, installed in 1924, is lit at night and visible from all over the city.