here's another post that almost didn't happen...
Not because I lack ideas or material;
quite the contrary!!
I will not bore you with the details of my life
but let's just say
it came very close for me to not post this...
this week on Sepia Saturday,
it is "open theme",
and I will use this opening to take you to an open house [sort of],
if only you'll keep an open mind about it.
While we will not go inside a certain building,
because I've done it before here...
We will instead look at it from the outside,
and its surrounding,
and see how things evolved over not quite yet a century and a half.
And I'll obviously share with you my memories and impressions
that cover the last 50 years or so...
Wood engraving done by John Henry Walker
depicting Montreal's new City Hall that was built between 1872 and 1878.
You can see the building was done in a classic Second Empire style.
The architects in charge of this project were
Henri-Maurice Perrault and Alexander Cowper Hutchison.
If municipal affairs had been managed from the Bonsecours Market previously,
it would now be handled within these walls.
Behind City Hall,
a huge parking lot...
shared by cars and horses.
What I find interesting here is the general urban landscape
as so much has disappeared since then.
I see what appears to be a large market [or something...]
that is totally unknown to me.
I'll have to look into that [eventually].
It is almost scary to see how much a city can change over time.
There may have been questionable choices as to what had to go and what could stay,
but one can't deny the city has gone through a few mutations to re-invent itself.
A splendid building
and I do like the man leaning against that pole,
wearing a hat and walking [presumably] his dog,
even though those poles and electric cables drive me nuts as a photographer...
I find that they pollute the scene.
A fire caused great damages to the building,
leaving basically the outer walls,
and destroying much of the records and such that the building contained.
Time to turn a new leaf!!
Rebuilding City Hall,
supervised by the architect Louis Parant,
who decided to have a built-in self-supporting steel structure within the shell of the building.
He added one floor and things were done into the much favored Beaux Arts style back then
as many of the most prestigious buildings in the city were done this way,
thus altering the profile of the building for ever more.
But who could fault him for having good taste?!?
I look at the City Hall sitting there,
noticing the ever present parking lot behind it,
(more about that later on...),
the Place Jacques Cartier to the left looking fairly quiet
when I know that it was very active as a market before....
and that it is now milling with tourists!!
I should know:
only this last week,
I've directed on 3 occasions tourists who were looking for Old Montreal.
It's pretty hard to miss:
Just head for the [St Lawrence] river!!!
The first couple I came across one day were looking at their map,
standing in front of Radio-Canada,
our national TV station,
looking [they told me] for the Notre-Dame Basilica...
Were they going the wrong way,
I set them on their way.
I think I missed my calling here!!
I should have worked for the tourism board...
Just below the City Hall,
the Chateau Ramezay,
previously discussed here,
surrounded back then by a parking lot...
but now surrounded by gardens as they were originally,
It only took a "few" decades to restore some dignity to the place...
I did mention there were a few poor choices made in the past.
Nice to see our heritage now offered at its best,
for locals and tourists alike to enjoy.
Cars, cars, cars!!!
A sheer nightmare!!
I also see somewhere in the background where I would work a few decades later...
Building the subway and the Ville-Marie express way will change drastically the look of the place.
people will eventually learn to use public transportation
and more spaces will be restored to their previous glory
in respect to our heritage
as tourism became a preoccupation,
foreigners finding Montreal a delightful destination
as Montreal proved the most European destination in North America.
Modern buildings and historical ones merging together to offer a vibrant city
that never stops evolving.
If this picture was taken now,
it would look even more different
as the new mega hospital is rising,
its research center already completed.
Everything is on the move
as there is talk of how to modify the Ville-Marie express way
to make the Old Montreal more accessible.
And that is only one tiny piece of the puzzle to rebuild the district.
I contacted someone about the Viger Park last year
and that too should benefit of this revival...
I took that picture.
I could have taken the same in 2009,
The renovations took F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!
I must learn to understand better how panoramic software works.
I don't much care for that curved line...
But I wanted to offer you the full scope of the building.
The clock and the cupola.
What used to be a humongous parking lot is now a showcase piece
featuring the old walls of Ville Marie,
the old French colony,
when these walls were all that stood between those French immigrants
and the natives who tried to eradicate the presence of those pale faces...
Can't blame them for trying!!
I like to see the city's old bones.
I just had to do some crazy stuff here,
"shaking the house down".
Possibly influenced by our political situation,
amidst scandals and discord...
Thank you for attending my open house.
Time for you to head back to
Just keep your mind open to all of the possibilities!!
Now aren't you glad I wasn't in the mood to post?!?
I dare not imagine myself what it would have been like,
should I have been in the mood...