Besides countless museums and cultural offerings, Montréal harbours hundreds of heritage monuments: unobtrusive yet important witnesses to the past. Montréal Museums Magazine offers five walking tours that are off the beaten path—routes that serve to link certain museums, yes, but that also showcase these guardians of history too often overlooked by the tourist guides.
History and culture are at every turn in Montréal, to the point where the city can feel like an urban museum. A walk through the Square Mile district, favoured haunt of the 19th-century bourgeoisie, will bring you to magnificent residences such as Maison Shaughnessy (1874). The same area presents houses of worship that, unchanged over time, bear out the city’s dual religious heritage, like the Roman Catholic Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde and the Erskine and American United Church, both erected in 1894.
The Quartier des spectacles, Montréal’s entertainment district, is home to Place des Arts (1963), a legacy of visionary mayor Jean Drapeau and the city’s premier cultural complex.
For time travel, there’s nothing like Old Montréal. The pièce de résistance of this great open-air museum is the Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, Montréal’s oldest stone dwelling, located on Notre Dame Street West. Built in 1687, it was by turns private residence, seigneurial manor and presbytery. Nearby Place Jacques Cartier is a historic rallying point that, thanks to a 100-year-old law, must retain its public market role in perpetuity. Today, the presence of one small flower stall helps keep the city within the bounds of the law.
Next up is Parc Jean-Drapeau, comprising Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame—an exceptional urban green space that has played host to such mega-events as Expo 67, the 1976 Summer Olympics and the Floralies internationales.
Follow in the footsteps of the world’s great athletes to the Parc Olympique, built to accommodate the 1976 Games. The park is home to the Olympic Village and the famous Stadium, a landmark construction capped by the imposing Tour de Montréal—the highest inclined tower in the world, boasting a 45-degree angle, nine times greater than the Tower of Pisa!