Nestled near downtown Montreal, the Mount Royal Park is a highlight for Quebec tourists and residents alike. The park has been attracting visitors since its inauguration in 1876, showcasing a variety of plants and birds, outdoor activities and the natural beauty of Quebec. There are plenty of tourist attractions and activities in the park along with multiple opportunities for visitors to just sit in the wide open spaces or next to the relaxing ponds and enjoy the stunning Montreal skyline.
Mount Royal History
Mount Royal was conceived and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer who created New York's Central Park. Olmsted envisioned a park that would combine the natural beauty of the region with the evolving city of Montreal which was developing nearby.
Mount Royal was named by Jacques Cartier, the French explorer who first saw it in the 16th century on his expedition up the St. Lawrence River. By the 19th century the Montreal City Council had decided to build a park in the area and they commissioned Olmsted to proceed with his plans.
Many visitors know Mt. Royal as the site of some of the 1976 Summer Olympic events including the individual road race and the cycling event.
What to Do
Visitors to Mount Royal can take advantage of the spacious, grassy areas to relax, play ball, exercise or picnic, but there are additional activities for Mt. Royal visitors. One of the most popular Mt. Royal attractions is the Maison Smith, a historical dwelling where you can learn about the history and geography of the region. In the Maison Smith Discovery Room visitors learn about Quebec fauna and flora, the history of the area, conservation efforts and archaeological findings. The Discover Room features photos, historical texts, interactive computer terminals and a touch screen map that brings the information about Montreal and Quebec alive. In the basement, visitors travel back in time where they can learn about Mt. Royal's prehistoric past as a volcanic complex. The exhibition shows the giant rock formation which was crafted by the glaciers together with displays of the mountain's geological and human history.
Throughout the winter, skiing is available on Mt. Royal, starting at the Beaver Lake Pavilion. There are slopes for experts and classes for beginners of all ages. Other winter outdoor activities include inner-tubing, snowshoeing, skating and cross-country skiing.
The public is invited to join Mount Royal staff in its conservation efforts. Mt. Royal, as one of the last oases of nature remaining in the heart of Montreal, offers unique flora and fauna that involves a unique biological diversity. The ecosystem includes 182 bird species, 20 different types of mammals, 2 reptiles and 2 amphibians. There are 200,000 trees in the centre of the city. The Montreal park is a habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life with 65 tree species and 600 plant species. Individuals and groups can help to protect Mount Royal's biodiversity by joining in tree and shrub planting expeditions in which indigenous species are planted. Other conservation activities include removing the Common Buckthorn, an alien invasive shrub, maintaining young trees in the forest nursery for future reforestation and monitoring the growth and survival of planted trees. The Les Amis de la Montagne (Friends of the Mountain) aims to involve the Montreal community and other visitors in protecting the environment.
Additional Montreal Activities
While you're in the Montreal area you can take advantage of other Montreal activities. There are activities for all ages and for all seasons of the year.
The Ice Wine Tour Delight starts from downtown Montreal and takes you on a day tour into Quebec wine country where ice wine is produced. The tour includes visits to three wineries, a class in ice wine cocktail-mixing, wine tastings and a gourmet lunch. Wine aficionados will also enjoy the tips learned from master winemakers on how to create the best flavors, how to create a dessert wine with frozen grapes and other winery information that is generally not accessible to the general public. The gourmet lunch, inspired by Swiss raclette, features grilled vegetables, cheeses and charcuterie (cured meats), served with a green salad and wine.
The Old Montreal tour is a foodie's delight with a walking tour of Montreal's oldest district. Participants make periodic stops at quintessential bakeries, paté boutiques, cheese shops and other unique venues. In addition to the taste-testing, participants will learn about the history of Montreal, the native French influence on Montreal's culinary traditions and some of the Montreal delicacies which have brought Montreal cuisine to the world's taste buds.
The Discovery Cruise brings Montreal history to life. The Cavalier Maxim, a cruiser, takes you along the St. Lawrence River to show you where Jacques Cartier first sighted the shoreline which would, one day, become Montreal. The tour is led by a historical character who lends authenticity to the voyage. The cruise takes you 22 miles up the river, past the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, through the islands of Boucherville and other areas. Food and drinks are available on board.
If you have strong legs and prefer to see Montreal by land, join the half-day bike tour that takes you along the Montreal shoreline to show you historic Montreal. The three-hour bike adventure circles the city with a professional guide. You can take the City Tour that covers Old Port, the Latin Quarter, La Fontaine Park and The Plateau or do an architecture tour that gives you an over view of Montreal's scenic architectural structures. The City of Contrasts Tour takes you through ritzy Westmount, downtown and the famous Atwater market, as well as the St-Henri industrial area.
A visit to Montreal is full of fun and surprises with Mount Royal and other Montreal sites and activities.