Montreal enjoys awesome birthday gifts


375 MTL Pont Jacques-Cartier 17 mai 2017

Jacques Cartier Bridge under a sea of fireworks on Montreal’s birthday, May 17, 2017. (Photograph Courtesy Martine Doyon, Tourism Montreal)

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

MONTREAL, QUEBEC — The people of Montreal have never been shy about having a good time so it was a thrill to be in the city with them on May 17 to celebrate birthday number 375. As Montreal continues to bask in the glow of their anniversary milestone it’s evident this historic occasion will be felt for years to come, due in part to key legacy projects that are sure to have a lasting impact.

If you missed the actual birthday party no worries – it’s not too late to visit Montreal and discover the history that makes this city a true gem.

This one is for you, Jacques!

The illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which launched under a sea of fireworks to the cheers of millions of people, was by far the biggest statement made by Montreal.

Created by Moment Factory, these new lights have literally turned Jacques Cartier Bridge into an attraction with technology that brings the structure to life. This is possible thanks to intelligent programming that adapts to the seasons and mood of the city.

This $39.5-million technology also taps into Montreal’s energy using social media. When Twitter users use the hashtag #IlluminationMtl, they can change how the light displays on the bridge at any given time. The plan is for the lights on Jacques Cartier Bridge to continue for another ten years.

Movie night with Cité Mémoire

What a brilliant, innovative idea! If history lessons were this interesting when I was in high school perhaps I would have been able to keep my eyes open longer during class.

Cité Mémoire are illuminations of Montreal’s history displayed on trees, buildings and cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. For the next four years tourists will be able to see mini-movies in different languages with a free app that you can get from The Montreal en Histoires. These illuminations showcasing some of Montreal’s best stories are an enjoyable way to learn about the city. Best of all, they are suitable for all ages.


One of many contributions Montreal has made is in the world of sports. One illumination that I enjoyed was Moving with the Rocket / 1944 (located at 445 Saint-Laurent Blvd) which tells a fun story of Canadiens legend and NHL great Maurice “Rocket” Richard and his wife on moving day. Another wonderful semi-sports related story is entitled From Marie-Josèphe to Jackie Robinson / 1734–1946 (located at 408 Saint-François-Xavier St) which tells the tragic tale of Marie-Josèphe Angélique, a black slave who lived in Montreal, and how her story collides in time with the happier fate of baseball hall of famer Jackie Robinson who began his career in the city and broke the colour barrier in major league baseball with the Montreal Royals and was embraced by Canadian fans.

The other film I saw was called The Beaver Rebellion/ 1680–1750 (located at Place de la Dauversière), featuring puppet beavers, of course. I also enjoyed Babylon of the North / 1945 (350, Notre-Dame St W), a nod to Montreal’s seedier, some may say more fun days. Click here for full address listings and information.

Get close to Montreal’s Aura

Your naughty ways are not the only reason to get to church! Aura light show, another creation by Moment Factory, is a luminous experience in the heart of the Notre-Dame Basilica, one of Montreal’s most famous churches.

This famous landmark is brought to life with a cascade of lights that showcases the rich heritage, architecture and beauty of this historic church. Notre-Dame Basilica becomes a canvas, awash in lights and orchestral music that creates a jaw-dropping three-act display. It is strongly suggested that you arrive 15 minutes before start time as latecomers are not admitted. The show is expected to continue for another four years.


Get your mind into the sewer

On May 17, 1998, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized that Pointe-à-Callière is located on “the site where Montreal was born”. This makes the museum not only the perfect spot to celebrate Montreal’s 375th birthday but also it’s own 25th anniversary.

One thing you should take advantage of at Pointe-à-Callière is the Yours Truly Montreal multimedia show. This  Moment Factory creation tells the story of Montreal from the beginning to present day through the eyes of the city. The 18-minute show is presented on a 270-degree screen, where breathtaking and evocative images provide a spectacular immersive experience.

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This glowing 110-metre former collector sewer is now a multisensory experience. (Rod Charles/

When finished viewing the show take a stroll through a 110-metre section of the collector sewer and enjoy a multisensory, contemplative experience thanks to the Memory Collector, an ingenious light installation projected onto the stone walls in a specially designed sound environment that opened to the public in May of this year. This pavilion acknowledges the very beginnings of Montreal along with founders Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and the handful of men and women who accompanied them on this “foolish venture” on May 17, 1642. Visitors can check out dozens of artifacts from archaeological digs.

Find inner peace at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The first legacy project for Montreal’s 375th anniversary was made at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace was named in honour of these generous Montrealers who survived the Holocaust.

The Hornstein’s donated one hundred Old Master paintings  to the museum – the largest private donation made to a Quebec museum in modern history.

Designed by Atelier TAG in consortium with Jodoin, Lamarre, Pratte, creations in the Montreal Museum of Fine ARts have been installed throughout the pavilion by contemporary artists including works by Patrick Beaulieu, Mathieu Beauséjour and Patrick Coutu.


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Happy Birthday Montreal! (Rod Charles/

Montreal Tourism Website:
Phone Montreal area: 514-844-5400
Toll free Canada and U.S.A.: 1-800-230-0001
More Montreal Birthday Info:
Moment Factory Website: Click Here

Address: 350 Place Royale
Phone: 1-514-872-9150
Hours: Monday to Friday10 am – 6 pm,
Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Price: Adult$20, Child (5-12)$8, Student (13-17) **$10

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 1380 Sherbrooke St W,
Phone: 1-514-285-2000
Prices:  Ages 31 and up $23 (+ exhibitions $15)
Ages 13 to 30** $15 (+ exhibitions Free)
Ages 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult) Free

Address: 110 Notre-Dame St W
Price: $24/50 adults, $18.75 students, $22.20 Seniors, $14.80 children


Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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