My exciting long weekend in Montreal unfortunately had to come to an end. After an exciting day of exploration yesterday that ended with an absolutely delicious dinner at Nuances, the fine dining restaurant at the Casino de Montreal, capped by an impressive pyro-musical performance at La Ronde, I rested up so I would be able to squeeze in a few more hours korean beauty store of discovery this morning. One more exploration of the city before I would have to had back to Toronto on the train before noon.
With all my suitcases duly packed I went off for one more urban adventure. Fortunately checkout wasn't until noon, so I was able to leave my luggage at the hotel and just head off with my camera and my backpack. I started walking west on Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest which starts off as a fairly small street surrounded by five or six story high older buildings. The first major sight I came across was St. Patrick's Basilica.
This gothic revival building, a designated Canadian heritage site, is one of the most magnificent examples of this style in all of Canada. The massive arrival of Irish immigrants in the early 1800s created the need for more houses of worship and construction of St. Patrick's was started in 1843 with the first mass being celebrated in 1847. The interior of this church features 150 oil paintings of saints and is known for the "St. Patrick's Chimes", a chime system composed of ten bells, the oldest of which dates back to 1774.
I continued west past increasingly modern buildings until I happened across a major urban square: Dorchester Square, formerly known as Dominion Square. This wide open public space is a former cemetery which held the victims of the 1832 cholera epidemic. Today it holds several statues, including a monument commemorating the victims of the Boers War, a statue of Robert Burns - a Scottish poet, and another statue of Sir Wilfried Laurier, a former Canadian prime minister.
The south side of the square is called Place du Canada, which is the setting for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony which honours Canadians that were killed in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War. Dorchester Square is surrounded by several magnificent buildings. The north end holds the Dominion Square Building which is also the location of the Centre Infotouriste, Montreal Tourism's headquarters.
The east side of Dorchester Square is adorned by one of Montreal's most astounding buildings: Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. This impressive church is one of two surviving local churches from the era before 1875. It illustrates the power that the church wielded before the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. One of Montreal's catholic bishops, Ignace Bourget, devised a grandiose plan to outshine the Notre Dame Basilica.
He decided to commission a church that would be a replica of Rome's St. Peter's Cathedral with a location right in the middle of a Protestant neighbourhood. Construction lasted from 1870 to 1894 and the copper statues of thirteen patron saints of Montreal's parishes were installed in 1900. The church underwent extensive modernization in the 1950s. In recent years there has been significant reconstruction and the statue of Bishop Ignace Bourget outside the cathedral was restored in 2005. Mary Queen of the World was named a National Historic Site of Canada on May 14, 2006.
Further north on Place du Canada is the Sun Life Building which was finished in 1931 after three stages of construction. It was built exclusively for the korean beauty store Sun Life Assurance Company and measures 122 meters in height and counts 24 stories. Although the new head office of the Royal Bank of Canada at 360 Saint Jacques Street in Montreal was taller by several floors, the Sun Life Building was at the time the largest building in terms of square footage anywhere in the British Empire. The Sun Life Building has historic significance: during World War II the basement vaults of the Sun Life Building were the secret hiding place of the Crown Jewels of England and the gold bullion of the Bank of England. Today it stands as Montreal's 17th highest building.