Canada #43 Montréal
Two buildings – one we plan to visit, one we find by chance; one religious, the other administrative; both located in Old Montréal.
Notre-Dame Basilica, with its twin towers named Perseverance and Temperance, dominates Place d’Armes square. It’s only mid-morning but already there’s a noisy crowd outside, indicative of the 11 million people who visit every year.
Once inside, everyone is silenced by their surroundings, their gaze drawn upwards. The vaulted ceilings and sanctuary glow, richly ornamented in jewel colours and gold leaf.
Wooden carvings, paintings and statues fill every space. The stained glass windows portray people and events from Montréal’s religious history.
Not far away on Notre-Dame Street is Montréal City Hall.
Here there is no crowd. The doors are open and visitors are warmly welcomed. A free guided tour starts in the Hall of Honour where portraits of the city’s Mayors are proudly hung. In the Council Chambers, walnut panels line the walls and more stained glass windows depict scenes of Montréal.
Outside, on the sunny deck where staffers gather in their lunch break, there are raised garden beds. Meant to provide a relaxing pastime for council workers and also to encourage bees and insects, they’re overflowing with summer crops ready to be donated to food banks.
Two buildings – both designated National Historic Sites of Canada; both keepers of stories of the city and people they serve; both worth a visit.