Saturday, April 6, 2013


This week on Sepia Saturday
the prompt picture would have us look at castles. 
Montreal being part of a "new world", 
you might think we don't have such things, 
and you might be right, except... 
Castle in French is Chateau
and we have a few Chateaux. 
Not the kind you'd expect, 
far from it
but "Chateaux" nonetheless. 
Abodes that were more than what the average guy could afford or even dream of... 
Let's go!!! 

Let me take you on a path to the past. 

Claude de Ramezay
painting by St Marc Moutillet
A Frenchman from Burgundy who married into the Nouvelle-France's elite 
and pursued a career in the military and a civic one, 
as governor of Trois-Rivieres and then, 
His legacy is of an architectural nature.

painting by Henry Richards Bunnett, 1886. 
Built in 1705, 
it was one of the residences owned by C. de Ramezay. 
He died in 1724, 
but he was not the last famous man in this house. 
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin stayed there in 1776 
while trying to find troops that would fight for the American Revolution?!? 
I didn't know that!!!

Over time, 
it went through a few modifications... 
Who instigated these, I don't know!?! 
What I found out though is that, 
in 1893, 
the Quebec government had no use for this building and put it up for auction... 
some concerned citizens convinced the city of Montreal to purchase the land and building 
to preserve one of the city's monuments. 

This was selected by the UNESCO as one of the Canadian historic sites to see (2010). 
It does exist now as a museum about the French colony, 
und so forth... 
That's why I jumped when I saw, 
in the third picture above a "red jacket"... 
Definitely NOT "Nouvelle France"!! 

Here you see a plan of "what was" and "what is now". 
I'll admit I've never [yet] entered the building... 
One day I will!! 
There's currently an exhibit about health care in the old days. 
That should be of some interest to me...
How often do you hear that tourists know more your city than yourself?!?... 
I find it interesting to see how the structure evolved over time. 
Speaking of which... 

You see here the facade, but...

...for me
this is where it is really happening. 
Since 2000, 
the city of Montreal with the cooperation of the Quebec government, 
have recreated the "Governer's Garden". 
A recreation of a typical urban garden of the "Nouvelle-France". 
These are pictures I took in 2011. 

I know this is very pretty, 
but there is another reason why I photographed this. 
Much like the header of this blog, 
this is a ram
and just to give you a hint... 
if you say it now, 
you'll be on time. 
If you wait until next Saturday, 
you'll be too late... to wish this Aries a happy birthday. 
Moving on!!! 

Marius Dufresne
seen here in 1914. 
Architect and Engineer by profession. 
Ambitious, visionary. 

Oscar Dufresne
not as brilliant or ambitious as his brother but quite the entrepreneur himself, 
he  followed into his parents' footstep 
and kept the family business going, 
i.e. shoe manufacturing, 
among other things... 
Victoire Dussault Dufresne, 
their mother, 
was one of the first women to practice as a shoemaker in Quebec.

built from 1915 to 1918, 
costed the brothers a million dollars 
 and held many masterpieces by Guido Nincheri
A private hotel constituted of two symmetrical houses for each brother. 

Designed by French architect  Jules Renard
this was inspired by the "Petit Trianon" in Versailles, France. 
If I may say so, 
isn't it odd that the house was designed by a foreign architect 
when there is one on the family?!? 
I'm just saying... 

Done in the "Beaux Arts" style that appealed to the Montreal bourgeoisie back then, 
it still sits pretty at its address on Sherbrooke Street 
with the Botanical Garden/Insectarium at the north-east corner, 
and the Olympic Stadium/Biodome/Planetarium/Soccer Stadium/etc... 
It did host from 1979 to 1997 
the museum of decorative arts
it is simply a museum to the legacy of the Dufresne brothers, 
but also holds the archives of the City of de Maisonneuve, 
now annexed for a long time to the city of Montreal.  
To think that this building was left vacant twice, 
from 1957 to 1965, 
and again from 1968 to 1976, 
leaving it in a sorry condition. 
At the instigation of the city, 
the MacDonald Stewart Foundation  restored the building 
and bought the original furniture from the Dufresne sucession 
to bring it all back to its original look, 
according to plans and photographs of Marius Dufresne.

Speaking of de Maisonneuve
here's one of Marius' concepts, 
those public baths, 
as there were health concerns at the time, 
and this was seen as a solution.  
Quite a grand building!!

Here you see Oscar surveying work at the construction site of... 
none other than the Jacques Cartier Bridge, in 1935. 
The brothers were part of a consortium to build that bridge.
Marius would die in 1945 at the construction site of another bridge... 
in Laval. 

Speaking of MY bridge, 
I leave you on this 
and invite you to visit other contributors at 

If you're lucky, 
you may see "real" castles!!! 

Legit Sepians gather on our Facebook page for fun and info. 


  1. Wow Bruno. You've come up trips with this blog. Good work.
    PS Love the photo of the cabbages.

    1. A two-for-one, not a bad deal!!
      The cabbages pic is also my favorite, that, and the fountain.

  2. 1) Fascinating stuff - a post worthy of your usual standard.
    2) Favourite shots - the botanicals in the garden.
    3) Happy birthday
    4) New idea for the FB page - as you and I both used 'Did You Know?' this week. He got around that Benjamin Franklin.

    1. 1)Thank you!
      2)Thank you!
      3)Thank you!!!!
      4)You're in charge now,
      so knock yourself out!!
      Maybe this is an easy enough prompt
      to stoke a few reactions.

  3. I didn't know that!
    Happy Birthday!
    My favorites shots are also from the botanical garden
    Thanks for the tour of chateaus in Montreal!

    1. Nothing to compare with European castles,
      but nice buildings nonetheless,
      and a part of our history here.
      That Governor's Garden was a surprise for me in 2011,
      as I had often walked by but never entered.
      It's walled-in!!
      So it was a lovely surprise to see the various sections,
      flowers and bushes, vegetable garden, fruit trees.

  4. Many happy returns Bruno, and I have to ask, "Did you eat that missing berry?" All excellent photographs, but I particularly like the one of "Oscar surveying work at the construction site." I wonder what that contraption is behind him - it looks like some sort of railway-mounted boiler.

    1. I would guess this is part of the system to move large pieces to build the bridge.

      No, I'm too used to getting perfect fruits from the market to settle for these.

      I should survive one more candle...

  5. Happy Birthday! I didn't know about Benjamin Franklin, and I didn't know that both Aries and your header were rams.

    1. Thanks, it does explain my fascination for those horned creatures.
      I found out about B.F. this week. Fun what SS makes us discover!!

  6. Fine buildings and interesting stories behind them. I was hooked on the botanical fruits as well.

    1. G'morning Bob!!
      Yeah, this is a fine recreation of the original garden.
      More diversified than you'd expect.

  7. Very nice buildings and I'm glad they've been repaired and refurbished. That is peculiar that an architect would have someone else design his house. You would think he would have been bursting with ideas.

    1. I know!! I knew he was an architect and I always thought it was his once concept,
      because it fits well within his own work, so I was much surprised when I did my research...
      Surely he put in his two-cents!! I know I would have!!!

  8. Well, first off Happy Birthday!

    Love the edible garden. The houses are quite grand. And the tower on the one reminds me of a couple of chateaux inspired apartment buildings in Los Angeles. Sure there are a lot of chateaux style houses in Bel Air and Beverly Hills, but I think it was on Franklin in Hollywood, that there were two rather grand buildings that I always wanted to live in. Each looked very French. Alas they were too rich for me.

    1. Well, maybe you'll grace us with these beauties on your blog,
      if you find something sepian-ish to say about them.
      I personally prefer the Georgian architecture,
      of which we have a few good example here.
      But alas, same scenario here, too much $$$ involved here for my taste and wallet...

  9. Best wishes for your birthday, Bruno. Thanks for another great detail of a city that your readers may soon know better than their own. You have a fine eye for texture and color in your own photos too.

    1. Over the years, my blog had become my platform for my other hobby, photography!!
      I may be an amateur, but I have enthusiasm, and you'll get to see my city,
      whether you want to or not!!!...
      I don't post only for SS but make it my [near] daily business to showcase something
      about Montreal. As Alan has often told me, maybe the city should hire me to do their promotion.
      Within the last year, my photography has improved somewhat and I've ventured into a more artistic approach. What you see here would be your typical "tourist" pics.
      But I've somewhat evolved beyond that, re-interpreting what I see.
      I'm enjoying the journey so far!!

  10. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and I really enjoyed your photos. Someday you must enter that place and see what's inside. I can't believe that they used an outside architect to design their place.

  11. Hiring an outside architect makes sense - if it turned out badly, you had someone else to blame.

    Ben Franklin was a good guy, quite the ambassador for the US. I'm sure there are more "Ben Franklin slept here" signs than for George Washington.


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