Constructed on the site where Montreal was founded in 1642, the Museum of Archeology and History is deservedly one of the most popular attractions in the city. First opened in 1992, the museum itself is built on some of the grounds that once held the objects now on display.
Housed partly in the triangular Eperon Building, the Pointe-à-Callière museum, as it’s called locally, is so named for the point where the St. Pierre River merges with St. Lawrence. For on this spot were found a treasure trove of archeological finds. Here scientists unearthed artifacts of French trappers, local native tribesmen, and others who have passed through the area over the centuries.
You can visit any of the four sections into which the museum is divided. The Eperon Building itself is the main section, but there is the underground Archaeological Crypt, the Ancienne Douane Building, and the outdoor Place Royale.
First, catch the 15-minute video in the auditorium that explains all about the museum and its contents. Providing an excellent overview of the territory from the Ice Age to the present, it’s a fascinating history. Next, descend to below street level to see the collection.
Visitors walk on a self-guided tour through a labyrinth of cases containing items left by Scottish merchants, Iroquois, and others. Part of the tour shows the city’s first Catholic cemetery with several of the original tombstones still on display.
Centuries-old pottery, some surprisingly well preserved, sits alongside strikingly detailed and realistic carved masks. In some cases, objects are placed in the exact location at which they were first discovered.
Along with the artifacts, there’s a permanent exhibit showcasing the history of Montreal, one of the oldest cities in North America. In the end, you exit into the Old Custom House, another popular Montreal attraction. Built in 1838, it provides an interesting look into the British influence in this largely French-origin city.
Inside the main building, there is also the L’Arrivage cafe with an excellent view of Old Montreal (Vieux Montréal). Across from the main building is the Youville Pumping Station, dating from 1915 but long defunct. Fully restored, it serves as an interpretation center. Staff along the tour are happy to answer questions.
Located at 350 Place Royal, just exit the Metro (Montreal’s subway) at Place d’Armes. Details are available at the website: http://www.pacmusee.qc.ca/
“Montreal museum of archeology and history” by chispita_666