Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover

Home /Art & Culture /First Nations Presence on Mount Royal

  • Discovery file
  • Slide-show
  • Audio-video

First Nations presence on Mount Royal

We can trace the presence of First Nations peoples on Mount Royal back almost 5000 years. They were attracted to its rich natural resources. They used the wood on the mountain to build villages, its fertile land for growing corn, squash and beans, and its forest contained a precious medicinal plant, the Mayapple, used to treat lung diseases, rheumatism and venereal diseases.

Mount Royal was also visited to extract hornfel, a stone that breaks cleanly with sharp edges and that is resistant to abrasion. Because they had no access to flint, they used it to make tools and weapons for hunting.

With its imposing size and majestic forests, it was a sacred site for the First Nations peoples. Like other mountains, Mount Royal was, without a doubt, a place to get closer to the gods. A number of burial sites have been discovered there.

Did you know?

  • Côte-des-Neiges Road, Côte Saint-Antoine and Côte Sainte-Catherine Road follow ancient First Nations paths.
  • Still today, some people in Westmount remember seeing aboriginal pictograms engraved in the bark of old elm trees, which delimited old paths in the forests. Today, a section of these paths still exists as Arlington Lane.

To learn more

  • Ville de Montréal, Ethnoscop, Parc du Mont-Royal, Inventaire Archéologique du site Préhistorique, Montréal, 1997
  • Commission des biens culturels du Québec, Étude de caractérisation de l’arrondissement historique et naturel du Mont-Royal, 2005

Picture credit

Vidéanthrop, Stone cutting
dessin F. Girard/©Vidéanthrop


Vidéanthrop, Hornsfeld cutting
dessin F. Girard/©Vidéanthrop

Hornsfeld on the mount Royal
Photo: Jean-Michel Villanove
© Les Amis de la montagne

© Les Amis de la montagne Collection

Bifacial rough-shape
© Ville de Montreal