Welcome to Les amis' newsletter - December 2011

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Photo: Samuel Montigné









The official inauguration of the permanent exhibition “Mont Royal, A Territory to Discover” was held last November 9 at Maison Smith in the presence of many partners, friends and guests in a most festive and convivial atmosphere. It was the occasion for dignitaries’ speeches, a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony and the announcement of the winners of the “La montagne en images” photo contest.

In addition to offering an interactive and immersive experience to discover the mountain’s multiple heritage elements, “Mont Royal, A Territory to Discover” is an invitation to explore the mountain and ultimately, to participate in its conservation and perpetuity.

The inaugural festivities at Maison Smith continued through the weekend of November 12 and 13 with a series of open house activities for the general public. Hundreds of visitors participated in story-telling sessions, enjoyed an artists’ illustrations of exceptional trees and participated in discovery walks through the forest.

The “Mont Royal, A Territory to Discover” exhibition is accessible during Maison Smith’s regular opening hours throughout the year. Admission is free.

Click here to see the photo album of the inaugural events. Photos by Martin Roy (inauguration) and Delphine Delair (open house).




With great emotion, lots of laughter and the sharing of poignant memories, current and former employees of the Centre de la montagne and Les amis de la montagne gathered on November 22 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the organization’s founding.

L to R: Peter A. Howlett, C.M., Anne-Marie Prud'homme, Claude Lefrançois, Lorraine Bonneville, Michel Famelart


The Centre de la montagne was the first of the two organizations to be created in 1981 by a group of newly graduated biology students from the Université de Montréal, who wanted to make the mountain better known and appreciated. Five years later, Les amis de la montagne was created in order to stop the construction of an immense communications tower in Mont-Royal Park. Marrying their passion for the mountain with their respective areas of expertise, the two organizations joined forces in 2006 under the banner “Les amis de la montagne”.

L to R: Jean-Yves Benoit, Claude Lefrançois, Lorraine Bonneville

These 30 years of involvement on the mountain has provided for the engagement of hundreds of young people for the mountain cause together with the participation of thousands of volunteers and partners over the years. An evaluation of the work accomplished over these years brings to light the impressive number of projects and programs initiated by the organization related to education, as well as Mont Royal’s conservation, protection and enhancement.

L to R: Réjean Gravel, Maurice Landry, Éric Richard, Joanne Groulx

The “homecoming” event on November 22 welcomed the return of the organization’s pioneers, those who were there from the very beginning, and those, who 30 years later, pursue the founders’ commitment with as much passion, determination and enjoyment.



Photo: Samuel Montigné

Young people today spend less and less time in nature and this decrease has consequences on their overall health and well-being.

A call to action to promote an increase in Quebec youth’s contact with nature was recently launched, as well as a new edition of the Une école montréalaise pour tous program.

Read more here …



Five years ago, Les amis de la montagne initiated the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) on Mont Royal to support mountain property owners and managers in their efforts to conserve the mountain’s natural environment and to encourage citizen participation in hands-on activities. Les amis are proud to announce another round of successful results for actions undertaken between May and October 2011.

Read more here …




Adopted by the Quebec National Assembly on October 19, the Cultural Heritage Act will become law in October 2012.

Read more here …

Last July, as part of the “Belvédère Éphémère” project, Les amis de la montagne, in collaboration with numerous partners, invited the community to question the accessibility of the mountain from its western flank. For this occasion, the ramp for vehicles located at the corner of Avenue Cedar and Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges was closed to traffic for one weekend to allow residents in the neighbourhood and visitors to the park to reclaim this space and enjoy this little-known viewpoint.

Photo: Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Following the success of this undertaking, Les amis de la montagne communicated with the elected officials from the Ville-Marie borough and those responsible for Mont Royal, to ask for the permanent closure of this vehicular ramp. Les amis further asked that this space become a permanent lookout, to make pedestrian access to this important gateway to the park more safe and attractive, and to allow the community to benefit from the magnificent views towards downtown and the river.

The Ville de Montréal responded positively to the lookout project and answered that studies will be commissioned to investigate the functionality of the ramp, its current usage and potential impact on traffic, should it be closed. These analyses will help evaluate the feasibility of a permanent lookout integrated into the park at this intersection. To be continued …

A new study on the nine monteregian hills was announced last October 21 in McMasterville in the Montérégie. The purpose of the study is to provide the analysis and identification of challenges to the protection and enhancement of this chain of hills that includes Mont Royal, St-Bruno, St-Hilaire, Rougemont, St-Grégoire, Yamaska, Shefford, Brome and Mégantic.

A consortium of organizations will undertake the analysis and the studies necessary until May 2012, coordinated by Nature-Action Québec. Les amis de la montagne are in charge of the study related to Mont Royal. A workshop on the monteregians held in 2008 and initiated by the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal inspired this study. The project is being supported by the Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal and the Conférences régionales des élus of Montérégie Est, Montréal, Estrie and the agglomeration of Longueuil.

The Groupe de travail en agriculture urbaine (GTAU) announced on November 15 that more than 25,000 Montrealers signed a petition asking for a public consultation on the state of urban agriculture in Montreal. This number of signatures meets the requirement established by the Ville de Montréal to request a public consultation by right of citizen initiative.

The GTAU has asked that the consultation be run by the central Office de consultation publique de Montréal to debate the place of urban agriculture in the Montreal of tomorrow in order to make recommendations on the social, economic and environmental impact of city gardening initiatives.

To follow the GTAU’s efforts, visit their website at www.agriculturemontreal.info.



The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has undertaken the construction of a new ceremonial pathway through the grassy plain that runs along Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges and Avenue Decelles.

The ceremonial pathway will be flanked by trees. This project was approved by the Ville de Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine.

Work has begun by the Ville de Montréal on sections 4 and 5 of the Mont Royal ring road. These two sections will connect the Decelles/Queen-Mary intersection in the Côte-des-Neiges borough to Boulevard Mont-Royal in Outremont via the Chemin de la Polytechnique on the Université de Montréal campus and the new Third Summit Park (northern summit of Mont Royal).

This third phase of construction is the next to last in the creation of the ring road that once complete, will measure more than 10km in length and will be accessible to pedestrians and/or cyclists. The project underwent a public consultation process in 2008 through the central Office de consultation publique de Montréal.

Construction of the ring road began in 2007 and should be complete by 2014. This project is included in the Mont Royal Protection and Enhancement Plan.



Les amis de la montagne submitted three briefs this fall on the Draft amendment regarding telecommunications antennas, the Land use and development plan (PMAD) and the proposed height and density changes for areas of downtown.

Click on this link to read the briefs (available in French) …



At Les amis de la montagne’s annual general meeting held October 27 last, the Governors of the corporation approved the nomination of three honorary members, Dr. Charles Beveridge, Mr. Witold Rybczynski and Mr. Gilles Gagnon. These individuals were recognized for having gained greater attention to and recognition for Mont Royal on both a national and an international level. These gentlemen are the first honorary members to be named to the corporation, a decision taken to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Les amis de la montagne.

Photo: Yves Médam

Dr. Charles Beveridge is a historian and professor, and author and editor of the Frederick Law Olmsted papers. He has received numerous recognition awards in the course of his career including honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Based in the United States, he is recognized as a North American authority in the philosophy and landscape architectural works of F.L. Olmsted. Dr. Beveridge has visited Montreal several times and in 2007, delivered a conference at Montreal’s City Hall on the occasion of the Prix du Mont-Royal awards ceremony honoring the now late Mrs. Edith Low-Beer.

Mr. Witold Rybczynski, professor and writer, is the recipient of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and winner of the Charles Taylor Prize in 2000 for his work A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and North America in the Nineteenth Century, a veritable testament to Olmsted’s vision of landscape architecture. Residing today in the United States, Mr. Rybczynski studied architecture at McGill University, where he also taught. He is pictured above with Mr. Patrick Kenniff, Governor of Les amis, during a recent visit to Montreal.

Mr. Gilles Gagnon was a professor, engineer, architect, urban planner and administrator. Involved in the management of major projects in Montreal and internationally, he was a pioneer in citizen involvement through his association with the Montreal Parks and Playgrounds Association (1904-1974), an organization dedicated to creating and managing green spaces for the well-being of all citizens. The tireless work of Mr. Gagnon has provided Mont Royal today with a solid base of popular support. Shortly after his nomination, it was with great sadness that Les amis de la montagne learned of his passing on October 26 at the age of 89.

On October 19, the Executive Committee of the Ville de Montréal approved the nomination of Mr. Mario Cicioli to the position of Director of the Direction des grands parcs et du verdissement. Mr. Cicioli will maintain his role as Assistant to the Associate Executive Director of the Service du développement et des opérations in the Bureau du Mont-Royal. Les amis de la montagne extend their congratulations to Mr. Cicioli for this nomination.

Les amis de la montagne extend congratulations to the Centre d’exposition of the Université de Montréal for receiving the Prix Excellence 2011 last October from the Société des musées québécois for a multi-platform exhibition titled, Art pour tous – Les œuvres publiques de l’Université de Montréal s’exposent.

This exhibition on the University’s collection of public art renders this remarkable artistic heritage available to the community. Composed of a variety of relevant and choice tools, the exhibit in situ consists of explanatory panels located near the works, a web exhibit, videos, podcasts and a print catalogue for self-guided visits. All combined, this exhibit is physically and virtually accessible at all times to suit the visitors’ choice. You may visit the exhibition website at www.artpourtous.ca.




Les amis de la montagne counts on your support to pursue its mission. Each donation counts. As we approach the end of 2011, we invite you to contribute to Les amis’ annual campaign, if you haven’t already done so. In addition to supporting our programs and activities, you take part in the preservation of Mont Royal. Click here to make your secure donation online. A receipt for income tax purposes will be issued for all donations of $35 and more. THANK YOU!


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