Bicycling through History

BICYCLING THROUGH HISTORY

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Montreal

Montreal is one of the oldest cities in North America. In 1535 the French explorer Jacques Cartier was the first European known to land on MontrŽal Island. The city of MontrŽal (at first also called Ville Marie) was founded in May 1642 as a missionary colony. Its name comes from the the volcanic mountain on the island surrounding Mount Royal for which the city is named, where the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers meet, and is the largest of several hundred islands in the area. Founded in the early 1600s, Montreal's history is comprised of French and British occupation which created distinct ethnic areas within the city that only recently have begun to blend both from the push for greater bilingualism, as well as the influx of immigrants from many other cultures. The unique geography, coupled with the blend of Victorian and French architecture, and the policy that no building will ever be taller than Mount Royal, make Montreal one of the world's most attractive and magical places.

The city's founder and first governor, Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, settled along the Saint Lawrence with some 40 colonists. After difficult beginnings, the city prospered as the fur-trading center of the French colony of New France and became the gateway to the western interior. Fur traders departed from Montreal to explore and start trading posts in the Great Lakes area and the Mississippi valley. By 1760 the city's population of French origin had reached about 4000.

The site of the original fort was along the river in an area now called Old Montreal. It is the main tourist attraction of the city, containing numerous landmark buildings. Some buildings date back to the French regime. Among the oldest, the Saint Sulpice Seminary (dating to the 1680s) and the Chateau de Ramezay (1705), now a historical museum, are fine examples of French architecture in the colonial era. In 1760 Montreal surrendered to British forces that were completing their conquest of Canada during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). In the wake of the British conquest a small group of enterprising merchants, mostly Scots, took over the fur trade. Their ventures grew into the North West Company, which built a powerful fur-trading empire reaching to the Arctic and Pacific oceans. French influence lasted for a time after the British conquest of 1760, as shown by some late 18th-century houses. British influence came to prevail, however, and most of Old MontrŽal is in fact a Victorian Style city, probably the largest and most interesting one in North America. Two buildings that dominated the landscape in the mid-19th century are still visible today: the Notre Dame Basilica (1829) and the Bonsecours Market (1840s). The basilica stands on the Place d'Armes, the city's most historic square, whose buildings tell the story of Montreal's institutional and commercial architecture from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Montreal's population grew from about 9000 inhabitants in 1800 to about 57,700 by 1851, surpassing Quebec city as the most populous place in British North America. Because of immigration, people of British origin were the majority in Montreal from 1831 to 1866. This change had a visible impact on architecture: the new public and private buildings reflected British tastes.

Under British rule, Montreal became an important port (the largest inland port in the world) as well as Canada's largest city and commercial hub. It was home to Canada's first banks, mercantile houses and fur-trading companies, centred on St-Jacques Street (or Saint James, as the British called it) in Old Montreal. You can get a good look at buildings still standing from this era, including the Molson Bank and the Bank of Montreal.

Old Montreal was saved from the cycle of demolition and reconstruction by the development of a new, modern central business district located to the northwest around Boulevard Rene-Levesque. Starting in the 1950s with the building of Place Ville-Marie, an office complex whose cross-shaped main tower is a landmark of modern architecture, numerous skyscrapers were built. Another famous Montreal feature also began with Place Ville-Marie: the underground city. Underground passages link office complexes, parking facilities, boutiques, and galleries with railway and subway (Metro) stations, hotels, restaurants, department stores, cultural institutions, and the convention center (Palais des Congres). With four distinct clusters, the underground city boasts 29 km (18 mi) of walkways.

The site of the central business district was formerly the Golden Square Mile, where the wealthiest Montrealers lived 100 years ago. Many of their fine mansions can still be seen, especially north of Sherbrooke Street. Farther east, Saint Lawrence Boulevard is lined with ethnic shops and restaurants testifying to successive waves of Jewish, Italian, Greek, and Portuguese immigrants. Next to that area, the francophone district of Plateau Mont-Royal extends for a few kilometers on both sides of Saint Denis Street, which is renowned for its restaurants, its exclusive shops, and its French-language bookstores. This is the heart of francophone MontrŽal. The streets are lined with duplexes and triplexes, many adorned with the outdoor staircases that were typical of MontrŽal until the 1920s.

HISTORY of Hotel Pierre du Calvet

Pierre du Calvet was a rich French merchant settled in MontrŽal in the XVIIIth century. Proprietor of Domain in Yamaska region, he was a justice of the peace in Montreal and was a key collaborator of the Gazette which was founded in MontrŽal in1778. Great admirer of Voltaire's philosophies on individual liberties, which inspired him to participate in the founding of the Academy of Montreal. His pursuit of liberty brought him to denounce to King George III of England, the form of government of the period, attributing all authorities to the Governor Haldiman and none to its people. It required various reforms, important among others, the establishment of a democratic government by forming a representative government, the constitution of an assembly and a Parliament in Quebec, then capital of Canada.

Author of several essays, the most famous of them, without a doubt "Call to the justice of the State" was published in London in 1784.

Montreal was invaded in 1775 by the Americans " Sons of the Liberty " in the fight for Independence from Britain. Benjamin Franklin, accompanied the army under General Montgomery to MontrŽal, where he had several meetings at Pierre du Calvet's home. It is certainly one of its most illustrious visitors. A man for liberty and justice, Pierre du Calvet pioneer figure whose ideas and documents had a huge influence on the family of Joseph Papineau, notary of Sulpiciens, then Lord of the island of MontrŽal, particularly on Louis-Joseph Papineau who carried on the fight for rights and liberties for Canadians. He was one of the main instigators of the rebellion of Patriots of 1837.


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