Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover

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The Chalet

At the beginning of the 1930s, the City of Montréal decided to replace the Maxwell pavilions with a spacious heated building. Like the work site at lac aux Castors, the construction of the Chalet, in 1931-1932, was one of the large make-work projects undertaken to reduce the unemployment caused by the Great Depression.

The architect, Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne wanted the Chalet to be well back from the lookout, unlike the Maxwell pavilions. The rhythm of the openings and arrangement of the windows mark the 49.5-metre façade. We find these characteristics of rhythm and symmetry on each side of the Chalet. The gabled tile roof has a large cornice that overhangs the front of the chalet.

The building is a study in contrasts with its imposing size, its luxurious materials (marble, granite), and its elegant doors and paintings by great artists, that combined make it a beautiful, opulent building. But it remains humbly known as the Chalet for its exposed beams, the simplicity of its interior layout and its vocation as a shelter for hikers and skiers. It was renovated in 2001-2002.

 

Crédit photo

© Les amis de la montagne Collection

Jacques Cartier on Mount Royal by Alfred Faniel

Champlain explore Montreal in 1603 by Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Travels of Jacques Cartier in Canada in 1534-1535 by Paul-Émile Borduas

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A lookout over history

Come here, up to the balustrade. Come and see! Isn’t it a beautiful view?
And in evening, with the lights of the skyscrapers, it's really magnificent.

Look on the horizon, past the St. Lawrence River: you can even see the Monteregian hills!
But we’re far from the first to enjoy the view from the Kondiaronk Belvedere.
It’s called that in honour of the great Huron Wendat chief, Kondiaronk. He was the founder of the Great Peace in seventeen O one…

The Chalet behind us was built in nineteen thirty one. Imagine the atmosphere under the stars with musicians playing on the portico. But now let’s go; we’re off to visit the Chalet.

In nineteen thirty one, an article in La Presse stated:
"The projected edifice will be built of stone and will have a single floor, representing a castle. The roof will be covered with red tiles, and the building will have a sixty by one hundred foot hall, that will be able to hold one thousand people."
Architect Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne drafted the plans, and was responsible for the interior decoration. And just wait ‘til you see it!!

Let's go in.

As you can see, he used refined materials such as marble and granite in the construction. This contrasts with the massive beams of the rafters. Have you noticed the sculpted animals up there? We don't have to look far to see where they got their inspiration. Perhaps they wanted to make them into local symbols or a national emblem.

The architect commissioned thirteen artists of the period, including Marc-Aurèle Fortin and Paul-Émile Borduas, to paint the seventeen works that decorate the hall. They represent major events in the history of the region of Montréal.

Come and see the one where Jacques Cartier points his finger towards the St. Lawrence… here is an extract from his account of the voyage:
“After we left this town, we were taken by a group of men and women to the place on the mountain, which we have named Mount Royal. To the north, there is a mountain range, running from east to west, and another towards the south… Between these mountains are the most beautiful lands imaginable…”


(Return to the narrator)

Yes indeed! Jacques Cartier, by calling the mountain Mont Royal, gave the future metropolis its name. Mont Royal was translated into Italian, becoming Monte Real… Monte Real… Montréal… you see?

And this is where I leave you. But why don’t you continue? Over there is a sign that explains the paintings. On the Belvedere, there are plaques that commemorate historical moments in the region… and if your eyes follow the arrows on the balustrade, you’ll discover Montréal and the surrounding region.

Enjoy your discoveries!