Caroline Bergeron, courtesy Pointe-à-Callière
There is perhaps some irony that one of the most distinctive contemporary buildings in the historic heart of Montréal is a showcase for some of the city’s oldest artifacts. The modern structure that houses this archaeology and history museum opened in 1992, to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Montréal. The highlight is its crypt, where you can wander through the digs of the city’s 18th-century market. A new pavilion, “Where Montréal Began,” opened in 2017 on the occasion of the city’s 375th anniversary. Its display of artifacts emphasizes the spiritual traditions of both the French settlers and Québec’s Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois peoples. Temporary exhibitions on subjects like hockey and the archives of Bell Telephone help bridge the gap between Montréal’s early history and the present day.
Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History
In the Old Port of Montréal, on the waterfront not far from the Place d’Armes, the Pointe-à-Callière provides an overview of Montréal’s history. Scholars had long known that in 1642 a mass was held beside the St. Lawrence River to mark the founding of the city, but the exact location was long a mystery. Excavations begun in 1980 identified Pointe-à-Callière as the site, and during the next decade—as archaeologists uncovered additional artifacts, including evidence of the city’s first Roman Catholic cemetery—a museum was erected to protect the dig. In addition to displaying many of the items found here, a multimedia presentation conveys the realities of life in the city over the centuries. Temporary exhibitions cover significant archaeological work at other sites around the world.