Situated in the borough of Ville-Marie alongside the St Lawrence River, the historic Old Port of Montreal is the focal point of the city. Visitors have access to endless attractions, activities and riverfront pubs, along with cafes and bistros, all neatly located in an accessible two kilometre stretch of real estate. A delightful urban beach with all the requisite walkways, cycling tracks and an exciting skating rink provide plenty of incentive to get up and go. Those requiring more sedentary entertainment can opt for one of many regular events targeting both adults and younger crowds.
The Original Trading Post of French Fur Traders
The historical significance of the Old Port, now officially known as The Quays of the Old Port of Montreal, is similar to many of the other early settlements and communities in the True Frozen North. French fur traders first used the area on the banks of the St Lawrence River as a trading post in the early 1600’s. More than two hundred years later, the burgeoning Montreal community developed a more sophisticated safe haven for water craft and the port continued to operate right up until 1976, when activities were moved to the modern Port of Montreal.
Spectacular Outdoor Activities for All
The Lachine Canal, built in the early to mid 1800s to link the St Lawrence to the Great Lakes, stretches approximately 14 kilometres from Montreal’s Old Port to Lake Saint-Louis and is a popular recreational area. Visitors can hire pleasure boats, roller blades, bicycles and all sorts of two and four wheeled modes of transport to explore the canal and its shaded banks at their leisure. Sun worshippers on a quest for well-earned R&R can put on some sunblock and enjoy a day at Clock Beach. The cleverly designed and rather authentic looking urban rendition of the real deal was constructed in 2012 adjacent the Clock Tower in the Old Port. Misting stations, beach sand, parasols and deck chairs are but some of the features available to sun kissed Montrealers earning a welcome break from the unremitting Canadian winters. Those in need of a thirst quencher can down a cocktail or two at a trendy beach bar!
Events at Montreal’s Old Port
An IMAX theatre and the Montreal Science Centre provide regular entertainment in the form of 3D movies and interactive exhibitions designed to educate and inspire young, developing minds. During the winter months, an Ice Fishing Village is a popular destination for locals intent on landing perch, burbot and walleye. There’s the option of a mobile app enabled self-guided tour of the historic port as seen through the eyes of former port worker, Bob Bordeau and his family, and the young ones can chug around in a candy coloured electric train.
The Centre of Annual Festivals
In addition to the regular summer and winter programs, there are a number of annual festivals and cultural events taking place each and every year. The spectacular Cirque Du Soleil, with its quintessential Big Top and daring circus acts, launches a new show at the heritage site every second year. The outdoor music festival, the Igloofest, the Montreal Festival of Lights and the Matsuri Japon Festival that celebrates the Japanese community in the city are held at the quays of the Old Port of Montreal each year.
Getting to the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal
Due to its central location, it is easy to access the destination by car or public transport. There is plenty of parking at the main entrances on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and the intersection of de La Commune and Berri Streets. Alternatively, visitors can use commuter trains, Maritime Shuttles, Metro or bus, with lines 75, 55 and 715 servicing the area. The closest Metro stations are Champ-de-Mars, Place d’Armes and Square-Victoria.
More than six million visitors flock to the Old Port in Montreal’s Old City each year to relax, unwind and immerse themselves in an eclectic mix of events, entertainment, lunching and dining. With such a diverse range of activities and attractions, there is no time for boredom to set in and whether you are a local, or a visitor to the city, it is a great way to explore the beautiful heritage site that is the Old Port!