Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover

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A short history of the Cross on Mont Royal

A fixture of Montréal’s landscape since 1924, this illuminated cross was built in commemoration of the cross erected in 1643 by the Governor of the Island, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, to thank God for saving Montréal from floods.

 

Today’s cross was erected by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptist, with funds collected from the public. The original design, by the Sulpician priest Pierre Dupaigne, included an observation platform in the arms of the cross and a base of cut stone. The project was scaled down for financial reasons. Facing east, the cross marks the symbolic appropriation of the city by French speakers.

 

Did you know?

  • Thirty metres tall, the top of the cross reaches 251 metres above sea level.
  • The cross is visible from 80 kilometres away.
  • At the death of a pope, the lights are changed to purple.

 

To do

  • From Smith House, take chemin Olmsted toward the Chalet and follow the summit circuit that will take you to the cross (2.5 km, 40 min.)

Original plan by Pierre Dupaigne p.s.s.
Pierre Dupaigne, 1924
Annexe A -Services des parcs; tiré de Le Petite Journal, 2 oct. 1949

 

 

 


Questions :

(1) The cross of Mount Royal can be seen from up to 80 kilometres away.

Answer True

(2) The actual cross was erected to commemorate de Maisonneuve's wooden cross.

Answer True

"Sieur de Maisonneuve carrying the cross at Mount Royal, Quebec", 1933
Watercolour by Lawrence R. Batchelor
© National Archives of Canada / C-005078

Stamp of Mount Royal cross
© Société Saint-Jean Baptiste de Montréal
 

Original plan from Pierre Dupaine, p.s.s, sans date
La montagne en question, p.22
 

Plan of completion work at the cross as of 1927
© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

The cross at Mount Royal summit
Antique post card
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Une croix immense domine la ville, 1964
Montréal 64, mai, p.20

The Mount Royal Cross
Drawing by Béatrice Lapointe

The Cross in the Fog
Photographer: Karine Gagné
© Karine Gagné

The Mount Royal Cross
Drawing by Samuel Villanove

Mount Royal cross from the clock tower
Photographe: Andrew Dobrowolskyj
© Collection les amis de la montagne

 

 

 

Mount Royal Park
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection
 

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The Mount Royal Cross and its antennas

Christmas, sixteen forty two. There’s a downpour. The Saint Lawrence River is rising and threatening to overflow its banks. Fort Ville-Marie, built in May, is in danger of flooding. Paul de Chomedy, sieur de Maisonneuve, prays to the Holy Virgin to save his new colony. He promises to erect a wooden cross on Mount Royal if his prayer is answered.

On Epiphany, January sixth, sixteen forty three, de Maisonneuve solemnly climbs the mountain with the promised cross and erects it on the summit.

Today, no trace of the wooden cross remains nor its original location.

To commemorate the act of the sieur de Maisonneuve, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste decided to erect a cross on the mountain. On December twenty-fourth, nineteen twenty-four, this new cross on Mount Royal shone over Montréal for the first time.

Facing east and measuring thirty metres tall, the cross can be seen up to eighty kilometres away, becoming a visual landmark and a symbol of the city of Montréal.

Continue climbing and other imposing and improbable structures come into view, in competition with the summit.

At the highest point of Mount Royal stands a tall, white tubular antenna. A bit further away, you can see a complex, immense red and white tower.

The white antenna is used for emergency communications by various municipal services. The red and white tower, known as the Société Radio Canada antenna, is over one hundred and eleven metres tall.

We hope that one day technological advances will enable these structures to be taken down so that only red oaks and white pines rise over the summit of Mount Royal.