Walking Tour: Reliving History in Old Montréal

  • Start Basilique Notre-Dame
  • End Place d’Armes
  • Length 2km; two hours

On the southeast side of Place d’Armes is the city’s most celebrated cathedral, magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame. Inside is a spectacularly carved pulpit and richly hued stained-glass windows relating key events from the city’s founding.

Head along Rue St-Jacques, once known as Canada's Wall St. Stop at the grand Royal Bank Building, Montréal's tallest edifice in 1928, to see its palatial interior.

Loop onto Rue Notre-Dame and down Rue St-Jean. On the corner of Rue de l'Hôpital, the Lewis Building has dragons and mischievous gargoyles on the facade. It was built for Cunard Shipping Lines, a steamship company founded in 1840.

A few blocks further is Place d'Youville, one of Old Montréal's prettiest squares. Some of the first Europeans settled here in 1642. An obelisk commemorates the city's founding.

Nearby is fascinating Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire Pointe-à-Callière. Inside see the city’s ancient foundations, or go to the top floor for fine views over the Old Port.

Across the road is the 1836 Old Customs House. It's in front of Place Royale, the early settlement's marketplace in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Walk down Rue St-Paul to see the 2006 bronze sculpture Les Chuchoteuses (the Whisperers), tucked in a corner near Rue St-Dizier. This was one of many projects to revitalize the old quarter.

Head up St-Dizier and turn left onto lovely Cours Le Royer, a tranquil pedestrian mall with fountains. On the north-side passageway is a stained-glass window of Jérôme Le Royer, one of Montréal's founders.

Turn right on St-Sulpice and return to Place d’Armes. Note the New York Life Building, Montréal’s first skyscraper (1888), eight stories tall.