The next day was reasonable when we left Buckingham for Montreal, but by the time we reached the small church of Grande Fresniere, St Eustache, a small red brick building pretty much in the middle of nowhere, it was looking like a very grey day indeed.
The two buildings weren’t just any old buildings, and we weren’t there to go to church – well, we were sort of – or to visit the people in the little homestead by the roadside.
The house had once been the home of Gail’s ancestors John Inglis and his family, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1829. Originally it was a stone house but someone later added the wooden siding/cladding and presumably the veranda. It has quite a history to it too, as just before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837/8 and the Battle of St Eustache it was taken over by the rebel patriots to use as their headquarters. Gail sent me an account of events, written later by John, which included a list of goods stolen and a description of the treatment her great great great grandmother suffered at the hands of the rebels. Pretty scary. All I can say is that Isabella Inglis was one brave tough woman!
The church was built on Inglis land donated by William, son of John and Isabella. The clay for the bricks also came from the land and William helped to build it. Unfortunately we could not see inside, but we were able to look around the small cemetery to one side.
The red marble Inglis gravestone stood tall near the front of the cemetery, in memory of a family that saw much of the development of the Canada we know today. At least three generations lie here in this now peaceful place among the people they probably grew up with and lived amongst.
We continued on our way to Montreal, arriving there to find the city high-rises in fog. This is part of the old railway station, and it was here we had something to eat in a restaurant that took its decor inspiration from an old railway carriage. It was excellent.
This is a corner of the same building –La Gare Windsor or Windsor Station.
It was so wet we really didn’t fancy going out and getting soaked, so we just drove around downtown, and I took photos through the window when I had the opportunity. This is in Place d’Armes with Notre Dame Cathedral on the right and the Art Deco Aldred Tower on the left. The Aldred tower built in 1931 was set to rival the Empire State Building but the stock market crash of 1929 put paid to all that!
This time the Aldred Building is on the right, dwarfing what was the first skyscraper in the city, the New York Life building. Place d’Armes was being dug up for some reason, hence all the orange and white striped bollards.
We drove around the old town of Montreal, situated alongside the St Lawrence River, up and down little cobbled streets that no doubt would be fascinating to wander through if the sun was shining!
You can see how wet it was by the reflections on the road at this old town corner. It just didn’t let up!
Same in Chinatown with its beautiful lion gates with their ornamental pagoda roofs.
Then we passed part of the internationally famous McGill University. It’s a large university with several buildings around the city. I thought this one was rather splendid – and look! The pavement – the sidewalk – is dry!!! for the moment!
Surprisingly, though this huge 20th century basilica dominates the hillside of Mont Royal, it is extremely hard to find a description of it in the guide books. It is called the Oratoire St Joseph, and was at first intended to be only a small shrine to St Joseph, but through public donations, like Topsy, it just growed – and growed.
There’s a viewpoint somewhere on Mont Royal from where you can view the city, but for one thing we couldn’t find it – or didn’t find it, to be more accurate – and for another I don’t think the views would have been too spectacular that day anyway! So it can be something to do next time!
with Sonia. Gail’s sister-in-law,
and the kids
Talk again soon.