Sep 192016
 

September 18, 2016

National Library of QuebecThis is the Grande Bibliotheque, a public library in Downtown Montreal. Its collection is part of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Quebec’s national library.

The National Library of Quebec

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The conveyer belt that takes your books, checks them back in and takes them to the sorting room.

The conveyer belt that takes your books, checks them back in and takes them to the sorting room.

The library’s collection consists of some 4,000,000 works, including 1,140,000 books, 1,200,000 other documents, and 1,660,000 microfiches. The majority of the works are in French; about 30% are in English, and a dozen other languages are also represented. The library has some 50 miles of shelf space.

Montreal Biodome

This geodesic dome, called the Biosphere was by Buckminster Fuller. The building originally formed an enclosed structure of steel and acrylic cells, 250 feet in diameter and 200 feet high. The dome is a Class 1, Frequency 16 Icosahedron.

Sadly, on May 20th, 1976, , during structural renovations, a fire burned away the building’s transparent acrylic bubble, but the fortunately the steel truss structure remained. The site remained closed until 1990 when Environment Canada bought the site for $1.75 million and turned it into an interactive eco-museum about the Great Lakes water system.

Habitat 67Habitat 67 is a model community and housing complex designed by Israeli/Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It was originally conceived as his master’s thesis in architecture at McGill University and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair held from April to October 1967. Habitat 67 is widely considered an architectural landmark and one of the most recognizable and significant buildings in both Montreal and Canada.

Habitat 67 comprises 354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various combinations, reaching up to 12 stories in height. Together these units create 146 residences of varying sizes and configurations, each formed from one to eight linked concrete units.

Montebello CanadaThe last architectural wonder of this trip was Montebello, about 2 hours outside of Montreal. In the late 1920s, Harold M. Saddlemire, a Swiss-American entrepreneur envisioned a private wilderness retreat for business and political leaders.

The Scandinavian log construction project was supervised by Finnish master-builder, Victor Nymark and construction manager Harold Landry Furst. Construction and woodworking teams worked in overlapping shifts around the clock using electric lighting at night.

A crew of 3500 laborers finished the project within four months, and the club opened on the first of July 1934.

The centerpiece of the building is a hexagonal rotunda, containing a six-sided stone fireplace that rises more than 66 feet to the roof. It features 60 foot long logs and two mezzanines that completely encircle the rotunda.

The centerpiece of the building is a hexagonal rotunda, containing a six-sided stone fireplace that rises more than 66 feet to the roof. It features 60 foot long logs and two mezzanines that completely encircle the rotunda.

Interestingly, during this time, the church did not approve of working on the Sabbath; but by coincidence, the local curé was dispatched on an all-expenses paid trip to Rome for two months while the work proceeded apace.

MontebelloThe building consists of 10,000 logs, 500,000 hand-split cedar roof shakes and 103 miles of wooden moulding. The log walls are painted black on the outside, but the interiors simply show the beauty of the wood that was shipped in from British Columbia.

There are sitting rooms scattered throughout that are so inviting, you just want to stay for the week.

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Montebello

 

 

Sep 182016
 

September 17, 2016

Looking back into D

Looking back into Dorchester Square

Montreal is laid out in an interesting pattern. Every fourth street was created wider in order to allow horse drawn drayage carts to turn around. There are public parks spread throughout and more common that in most towns, but not consistent such as you find in New Orleans.

One of the main squares downtown is Dorchester Square, once Dominion Square. It is especially interesting because it was once served not only as a park but much of it was used for the Catholic Sainte-Antoine Cemetery, a hastily arranged cemetery for the victims of the 1851 Cholera Epidemic.

Crosses in Dorchester Park MontrealBetween 2009 and 2012 a $3.5 million renovation took place, headed by Montreal landscape architect Claude Cormier. It would have been impractical to remove the graves. The designers, instead, added soil and raised the height of the park in order to protect the graves underneath. There are crosses in the pavement as an homage to the cemetery. The crosses are stylized to match those often found on maps marking cemeteries.

The public restroom in Saint Louis Park

The public restroom in Saint Louis Park

Another interesting park that represents the system is Square Saint-Louis. During the depression the mayor was Camillien Houde. He initiated a program similar to America’s WPA, thanks to his policies Montreal got her Botanical Garden, the chalets of Mount Royal and La Fontaine park, viaducts, and these public baths and public urinals.  These bathroom facilities are now used for various purposes, in the case of Square Saint-Louis it is now a small coffee shop.

Square Saint-Louis was named by the Project for Public Spaces as "the closest thing to a European neighborhood square you'll find this side of the Atlantic”, with its Victorian homes facing the park.

Square Saint-Louis was named by the Project for Public Spaces as “the closest thing to a European neighborhood square you’ll find this side of the Atlantic”, with its Victorian homes facing the park.

Bragg Street Shul MontrealSaint Lawrence Boulevard or boulevard Saint-Laurent (its official name, in French) is a major street in Montreal. A commercial artery and cultural heritage site, the street runs north south through the near-center of city and is nicknamed The Main. This street is the heart of what once was the Jewish area. The street, and the Jewish section divides the Plateau district with the English speaking to the west and the French to the east.

At one time there were a very large number of synagogues, but as the area changed these were all either lost to progress or from the lack of members.

Interior of the Bragg Street Shul

Interior of the Bagg Street Shul

The one synagogue that has survived is Temple Solomon or the Bagg Street Shul as it is locally called. Active since 1906 with no permanent rabbi, it has been lovingly cared for by volunteers throughout its life. It received a $350,000 grant from the Montreal Heritage Program in 1999 and the building was restored and shored up. Since then it has operated on donations and an all-volunteer staff.

Chateau Dufrense montrealThe end of the Montreal Island, the borough Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, was developed during the 1800s. The area was industrial with primarily shoe factories. The last vestige of this period includes the house Chateau Dufresne.

The home was built and owned by two brothers Oscar, who ran the factory and Maurice, an architect and a utopian.

Chateau Dufresne Montreal

Just one of the many works by Guido Nincheri.

Built from 1915 to 1918, the mansion was designed in the Beaux-Arts Style by the Parisian architect Jules Renard and Dufresne brother, Marius. The architects based their plans on the Petit Trianon in Versailles, France. The building has forty rooms covering about 20,000 square feet. In the 20s and 30s the interior was decorated with paintings by Guido Nincheri. Nincheri was known for his piety and devout religious leanings, the secular subject matter of the Château Dufresne’s interior decor is an exception to the rest of his work. Alfred Faniel, a Belgian born artist, also decorated the house during this period.

This area was, with the exception of Chateau Dufresne, razed for the Olympic Village in 1976. An economic boondoggle for the city, as it was only paid off in 2006.

Montreal Olympic StadiumDesigned by French architect Roger Taillibert, the Olympic Stadium’s design is meant to evoke gigantic hands with curved fingers, the 34 cantilever panels, with four shortened panels at the base of the Tower, determine the overall geometry of the Stadium. They support the technical ring, the roof and the electronic score boards. Sadly, although the roof, made of canvas, was supposed to be retractable into the Tower, it has never worked.

I will end with a very unique garden I tripped over.  This is Park Gamelin.  The idea for the park was to make a rough public spot more welcoming for all Montrealers and tourists, and yes it is pretty covered with homeless, but it is also an amazing space. Think Beer Garden with fun games, sun and art.

Gamelin Park Montreal

The park is named for Roman Catholic nun Émilie Gamelin, founder of the Sisters of Providence religious community, which had operated a convent on the property. Émilie Gamelin and her sisters were known for running a soup kitchen (l’Œuvre de la Soupe) for the homeless community, as well as other needy people, of Montreal.

There are games spread throughout

There are games spread throughout

Gamelin Park Montreal

Sep 172016
 

September 16, 2016

Ottawa Canada Parliament

The Parliament building with the Peace Tower

In 1841, Lower Canada (now Quebec) and Upper Canada (now Ontario) joined to form the Province of Canada. Its seat of government alternated for many years. In 1857, Queen Victoria was asked to select a permanent capital. Surprisingly, the Queen chose the  lumber town of Ottawa over the established cities of Toronto, Kingston, Montréal and Québec City. Ottawa was obviously a political compromise but more importantly it was farther away from the American border.

The Center, East and West blocks of the Parliament Buildings were built between 1859 and 1866 (excluding the Tower and Library).

A fire took place in 1916 and burned the center building down, the library was saved, but seven people lost their lives.

The new structure, designed in the Modern Gothic Revival style by John Pearson and Jean Omer Marchand, was completed by 1922. The Peace Tower was finished later in 1927.

The West Block contains offices for parliamentarians. Built in the Victorian High Gothic style, the West Block has been extended twice since its original completion in 1865. The West Block appears on the obverse of the Canadian five-dollar bill.

The West Block contains offices for parliamentarians. Built in the Victorian High Gothic style, the West Block has been extended twice since its original completion in 1865. The building appears on the obverse of the Canadian five-dollar bill and is presently undergoing a $863 million restoration, scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Built in the Victorian High Gothic Style the East Block also contains parliamentary offices.

Built in the Victorian High Gothic Style the East Block also contains parliamentary offices.

Parliamentary Beaver

The ceremonial entrance to the Center Block contains a magnificent archway of carvings designed by the first Dominion Sculptor, Cleophas Soucy, and his assistant, Coeur de Lion McCarthy under the direction of Alan Keefer, a noted architect for the Department of Public Works. The intricate designs around the door were carved between 1937 and 1938 by a team of six carvers, along with Soucy and McCarthy.  This beaver, a symbol of Canada was done by Cleophas Soucy.

The archway is flanked by on either side by a lion and a unicorn. Known as “supporters” in heraldry, these two beasts are found on the Arms of Canada as well as the United Kingdom. The Lion carries a Union flag and supports the Royal Arms, while the unicorn carries the Royal flag of France and supports the Arms of Canada.

The archway is flanked by on either side by a lion and a unicorn. Known as “supporters” in heraldry, these two beasts are found on the Arms of Canada as well as the United Kingdom. The Lion carries a Union flag and supports the Royal Arms, while the unicorn carries the Royal flag of France and supports the Arms of Canada.

Canada Parliament

The House of Commons is in the Center Block of the Parliament Buildings.  Decorated in Green as is the British House of Commons, it presently has 338 members, and is fast growing out of its present space.

Canada Parliament

The ceiling of one of the magnificent rooms between the Senate and the House of Commons.

Canada Senate

The Senate is modelled after the British House of Lords and consists of 105 members appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister.  The Senate has a higher representation of minorities because the seats are appointed.

Canada Parliament

An interior hallway in the Center Block

The Library is one of the more magnificent rooms in the Center Block. Designed in the High Gothic Revival style by Thomas Fuller and Chilean James, the library opened in 1876.  The circular shape and use of galleries and alcoves came from the first Parliamentary Librarian Alphas Todd.  He also wisely suggested it be separated from the main building to protect it from fire. Due to this fact, and two huge metal doors, the library was saved from the fire that destroyed the rest of the building. The library underwent a four year restoration and was reopened in 2006.  The library is for the sole use of Parliamentarians.

The Library

The Library

Canada Parliament Library

Some other sights found in the Center Block of the Parliament Buidlings.

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Just a few of the hundreds of exterior carvings

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Parliament Canada

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There are four gargoyles on the Peace Tower, three of them are typical, why this one is different I have been unable to find out.

There are four gargoyles on the Peace Tower, three of them are typical, why this one is different I have been unable to find out.

The dedication plaque at the front door to the Center Block

The dedication plaque at the front door to the Center Block

The exterior of the Library

The exterior of the Library

Rideau CanalRunning behind the East Block of Parliament is the Rideau Canal connecting the city of Ottawa to the city of Kingston on Lake Ontario. It is 125 miles long and derives its name from the French word for curtain. The canal system uses sections of two rivers, the Rideau and the Cataraqui, as well as several lakes.

The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States. It remains in use today primarily for pleasure boating, with most of its original structures intact and is operated by Parks Canada. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and in 2007 it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Canadian Railroad Hotel Ottawa

Across the Canal is the Château Laurier, commissioned by Grand Trunk Railway president Charles Melville Hays, and constructed for $2 million, between 1909 and 1912. When the hotel first opened, private rooms cost $2 a night; 155 of the 350 bedrooms featured a private bath while the other 104 rooms had washstands with hot and cold water connections. In addition dormitories and common bathrooms were available as were rooms for travelling salesmen with sample tables to display goods. Today it is a Fairmont Hotel.

The magnificent ceiling of the Notre Dame Cathedral

The magnificent ceiling of the Notre Dame Cathedral

The main structure of Notre Dame Cathedral was completed in 1846. In 1859, Father Damase Dandurand, OMI, designed the two Gothic spires which were added to the west front in 1866. The steeples are covered with tin, which is typical for French-Canadian churches. The ornate interior was designed by Georges Buillon.

Tin Covered Steeple of Notre Dame Cathedral Ottawa

Notre Dame Ottawa

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*Notre Dame Cathedral

Ottawa was founded in 1826 as Bytown, and incorporated as “Ottawa” in 1855, the city has evolved into a political and technological center of Canada. The city name “Ottawa” was chosen in reference to the Ottawa River nearby, which is a word derived from the Algonquin word Odawa, meaning “to trade”.

The city is the most educated in Canada, and it is home to a number of post-secondary, research, and cultural institutions, including the National Arts Centre and the National Gallery. Ottawa also has the highest standard of living in the nation and low unemployment.

The town is walkable, approachable and architecturally wonderful.

 

 

Sep 162016
 

September 15, 2016
Walking all around Montreal
Attempting to get a sense of history and architecture

Montreal Quebec CanadaMontreal, is the most populous city in Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary,” it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.

Montreal is actually an island, a very large island. The Ile de Montreal sits at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and is surrounded by the Lawrence River (called the front) and the Prairie River (called the back).
Francophone Anglophone Montreal CanadaMontreal is also one of the centers of francophone culture in North America, in fact, French is the mother tongue of about 7.3 million Canadians. Most of these native French speakers live in Quebec, where French is the majority official language.

By the Official Languages Act in 1969, Canada recognized English and French as having equal status in the government of Canada, so much of the government work throughout the country, not just in Quebec, is handled in both languages.

Montreal was originally founded in 1642 as a missionary colony under the direction of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance, it soon saw fur trade became its main activity. However, the religious entity is still felt heavily in today’s Montreal, especially with the Order of Saint-Sulpice, who were responsible for developing much of Old Montreal, around their Seminary which is adjacent to the Notre Dame Basilica.
Building Ornamentation in Montreal CanadaIn the late 1850s expansion of the St. Lawrence canal system and the deepening of the channel to Québec City made Montreal the area’s principal seaport, while railway construction, particularly of the Grand Trunk Railway, made the city the hub of the railway system. Today Montreal’s main income comes from being a Financial Center. This legacy of ever changing industries has left a variety of buildings including factories, elevators, warehouses, mills, and refineries, that, today provide an invaluable insight into the city’s history.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Notre-Dame Basilica

Some of the city’s earliest remaining buildings date back to the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Although most are clustered around the Old Montreal area, such as the Sulpician Seminary (1685) and the residence of Governor of Montreal Claude de Ramezay, Chateau Ramezay (1705) , you will find examples of early colonial architecture throughout the city.

Montreal Canada DowntownSince 1960, a new downtown area has grown up along René-Lévesque Boulevard (before 1987 known as Dorchester Boulevard). This downtown expansion led to the remodeling of the city. Many historical buildings were demolished, ancient residential areas were radically altered, and thousands of low-income residents were displaced.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is spread across four pavilions, and has 140,000 square feet of exhibition space. One of these pavilions is the church that once anchored the Golden Square Mile.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is spread across four pavilions, and has 140,000 square feet of exhibition space. One of these pavilions is the church that once anchored the Golden Square Mile.

The residential area of architectural note that still has remnants of its grandeur is called the Golden Square Mile. During its heyday 70% of Canada’s wealth was concentrated in this square mile.

A street of Old Montreal, now revitalized with restaurants and shopping.

A street of Old Montreal, now revitalized with restaurants and shopping.

Old Montreal had become too industrial so wealthy people began to move up the hill. It began with James McGill. His was a farm that, upon his death, became the Royal Institute for Learning, or McGill University today.

James McGilll of Montreal Canada

James McGill

After McGill, the first concerted effort to develop the area was by developers creating terrace housing, a style of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century, where a row of identical or mirror-image houses share sidewalls.

Then the rich began to move in and build houses. Many of these houses are now part of McGill University.

Redpath Museum is the oldest building built specifically to be a museum in Canada. Built in 1882 as a gift from the sugar baron Peter Redpath, the collections were started by some of the same individuals who founded the Smithsonian and Royal Ontario Museum collections.

Redpath Museum is the oldest building in Canada built specifically to be a museum. Built in 1882 as a gift from the sugar baron Peter Redpath, the collections were started by some of the same individuals who founded the Smithsonian and Royal Ontario Museum collections.

Redpath Library

The Redpath Library

John Redpath, a Scots-Quebecer businessman and philanthropist was also a contributor to the University and has both the library and a museum in his name.

These homes of the wealthy were followed by churches, then stores and then hotels.

The Mount Royal Club was built as a club to service the wealthy of The Golden Square Mile

The Mount Royal Club was built as a club to service the wealthy of The Golden Square Mile

You can see the influences of the railroads, as building materials began to change. These buildings were now being constructed of Sandstone from New Brunswick, Indiana Granite and Vermont Marble, to list a few.

After the war you saw smaller homes with common walls being built in the area

After the war you saw smaller homes, with common walls, being built in the area

During World War I 90% of the sons of the families in the Square Mile were killed. This left no heirs, it was also a time of changing economics so staff was no longer available and the area was no longer what it was.

After the war apartments began to be built in the area, these were prepared for the coming age of the automobile

After the war apartments began to be built in the area, these were prepared for the coming age of the automobile

The homes were built of what was once considered a material for the lower classes, brick, as quarrying the Montreal Limestone that makes up so much of the older buildings of Montreal, was getting too expensive. There was also a change in sensibilities that allowed the concept of a shared wall, rather than great homes on great lots.

A very large apartment building in the Golden Square Mile

A very large apartment building in the Golden Square Mile

Eventually larger apartments started to show up, while the exterior architecture continued to have the French and Scottish influence, their floor plans and interior designs were actually influenced by New York.

Interestingly, Montreal did not allow buildings to be divided and owned by individuals , i.e. condo conversion until 1989. Most likely contributing to the fact that much of this area maintains its architectural integrity.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) is a museum of architecture and research center that incorporates the second empire style Shaughnessy House. The CCA sits within the Golden Square Mile.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) is a museum of architecture and research center that incorporates the second empire style Shaughnessy House. The CCA sits within the Golden Square Mile.

Across the street from the Center is their sculpture garden.  It is framed by a concrete replica of the lower stories of the Shaughnessy House.

Shaughnessy House Montreal

Within the garden are allegorical columns that line up with building types around town that can be seen from the escarpment that surrounds the park. These consist of chimney stacks, tenements, grain silos, and the twin spires of a church.  The permanent installation is by Melvin Charney.

Melvin Charnay at CCA Montreal Canada

This was just one day of walking Montreal, just a taste of its rich history and architecture.  Here are some other fun things spotted around town.

The police were having a union dispute about their retirement package. They chose to wear non-uniform pants in protest, while on duty.

The police were having a union dispute about their retirement package. They chose to wear non-uniform pants in protest, while on duty.

The Moulson family is still prominent throughout Canada. Here is just one of their enterprises.

The Molson family is still prominent throughout Canada. Here is just one of their enterprises, the Molson Bank.

Ornamentation found on buildings around town

Ornamentation found on buildings around town

Montreal Canada

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A statue in front of Notre Dame Basilica celebrating Montreal's founder Maisonneuve

A statue in front of Notre Dame Basilica celebrating Montreal’s founder Maisonneuve

On a lower level is co-founder of Montreal Jeanne Mance. Since she was a woman it would not have been proper to put her at the same level as a man at the time the sculpture was commissioned.

On a lower level is co-founder of Montreal Jeanne Mance. Since she was a woman it would not have been proper to put her at the same level as a man at the time the sculpture was commissioned.

Buildings surrounding the statue on the same plaza as the Notre Dame Basilica

Buildings surrounding the statue on the same plaza as the Notre Dame Basilica

Throughout its growth Montreal was a town of neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods surrounded the church representing the faith of its neighbors. In 1995 the government realized that many of the churches were being torn down, or falling down, and the city was loosing its sense of neighborhood.

For that reason the allotted $300 million to support the restoration of those churches that defined these neighborhoods.  The project took 25 years and restored over 1000 buildings.

Mary Queen of the World Cathedral

Mary Queen of the World Cathedral

Seaman's Church Montreal Canada

The Seaman’s Chapel in Old Montreal

The lamps in the Seaman's Chapel

The lamps in the Seaman’s Chapel

Church Spire Montreal Canada