Tired of the bustle of the city streets? The concrete jungle getting you down? Le Singe discovered a few of Montréal’s urban oases. Why not take a breather with him?
No, not Shanghai, but rather the Chinese Garden at Montréal’s beautiful Jardin Botanique. The garden’s authenticity is tough to challenge: Its component parts were shipped straight from Shanghai in more than 100 containers, and assembled on site by a team of Chinese craftsmen. Here, the Monkey enjoys the tranquility of the Chinese Garden’s Lotus Pond. Seemingly floating in the pond is a Stone Boat, a scaled down (and less elaborate) replica of the Marble Boat built by the fiscally flamboyant Empress Dowager Cixi at Beijing’s Summer Palace during the declining days of the Qing Dynasty. (The Monkey visited the Marble Boat in Beijing—a photo is on the way).
In the peaceful confines of the mammoth park on Mont Royal, le Singe admires the Eiffelesque cross that commemorates the city’s Christian heritage. The 32 meter steel cross features colored lights and was erected in 1924. Though the cross itself doesn’t appear in the film, its surroundings featured prominently in director Denys Arcand’s enjoyable 1989 contemporary passion play, Jésus de Montréal.
The Monkey enjoys a grand vista from one of the trails descending the Mont Royal. As urban parks go, Montréal’s namesake mountain is hard to beat.
In the Place Jacques Cartier, le Singe was pleased to make the acquaintance of (a bronze replica of) one of Montréal’s political luminaries, Jean Drapeau. Drapeau served repeatedly as mayor, from 1954 to 1957 and from 1960 to 1986, shaping the course of modern Montréal in the process. He is credited with commencing Montréal’s Metro system as well as bringing Expo ‘67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics to the city. Drapeau was also in office during de Gaulle’s 1967 “Vive le Québec Libre” speech at City Hall and the 1970 October Crisis, in which a state of near-martial law was declared in response to two provocative political kidnappings by militants of the Front de la Libération de Québec (FLQ) separatist group. Drapeau’s legacy is somewhat dampened by the massive cost overruns on the Olympics that left the city financially crippled for decades.
The Monkey takes in the pleasant vibe in Montréal’s St. Louis Square. The small park dates from 1876 and is surrounded by elegant homes. Nearby, the pedestrianized Rue Prince-Arthur features several popular eateries and bars.
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