A Visit to Pointe-à-Callière Museum: Montréal Beneath Your Feet


Since Pointe-à-Callière Museum opened in 1992, I was there for several visits. The latest one occurred very recently as I was eager to see the new pavilion that was inaugurated last May featuring the Fort Ville-Marie.

I like this museum—I must admit I have always admired the work of archeologists, which requires great attention to detail and patience. To read about the history of Montréal from the beginnings is a must, indeed, but seeing the actual site is quite an experience.

While strolling through the Fort Ville-Marie pavilion, you are literally—thanks to a glass floor—walking over the fort remains. One of my earliest Montréal ancestors, Marin Janot dit Lachapelle, arrived in Ville-Marie in 1653, 11 years after its foundation, among a group later known as the Grande recrue de 1653 (117 engagés and 14 women). Marin was a carpenter. I like to think that he was maybe one of the men who took care of the narrow posts for the palisade.

And it is easy to imagine the lives of women and men on the site while looking at artifacts which were gathered such as the remains of tools that have been used to build the fort as well as the terrine, dish and jar unearthed by archeologists. Most of the livestock bones found were pigs', revealing how important this animal was for the settlers. It was also noticed that the Amerindians were recycling French copper pot pieces into either arrow heads or tinkling cones (the latter being used as garment and hair decorations).

In addition to the foundations of Fort Ville-Marie, the site features those of Château Callière which will be built later (it was destroyed around 1760), as well as a fire pit dating back from the period when Amerindians occupied the territory before the arrival of the first Europeans.

Just outside the museum, on Place d'Youville, be sure not to miss the Pioneers' monument as you'll maybe be among those whose Montréal ancestor's name has been engraved in the stone.

The 2017 Montréal's summer was certainly one for history buffs to relish, but fortunately some exhibitions will remain for all of us to enjoy.