Sept 6 – 11, 2021; Written Sept 11, 2021

We’ve been in Montreal since Monday and enjoying it. A very nice town with lots of eclectic things to do.

The Old Port

Our marina is right in the downtown at the Old Port where the big cargo ships used to come to collect mostly grains from Western Canada for shipment to Europe or to move it by train to the US. The heyday was from the turn of the century through the 60’s. In 1920 more grain moved through Montreal than any other North American port. Impressive! Some of this structure still exists; some still in use, some derelict, others converted to museums or other uses. Lots of urban renewal going on in the old port with old sheds converted to luxury condos. The main port is not a bit down the St Lawrence.

I am finding that water entranced to towns are not always the pretty entrances. But, I do find the docks fascinating, looking at the ships and equipment.
Lots of containers right on the edge of the quay. there were not many ships in port, but lots of containers.
As this port was mostly for shipping grain, this equipment must be for pumping grain into holds. Not nearly as many cranes as silos and the like. I love the symmetry.
Rincon Feliz in her spot at the port. You can see an old quay in front of us. The big boys used to tie up here. Now they have floating docks down for us little boats. Downtown Montreal is just up the walkway to the right.
We are tied up on the back wall with the lights. The old port buildings are in the foreground with the city behind. The piers on either side used to be for big cargo ships. Now, museums, Cirque du Soleil in a big tent in season, a Ferris wheel, and on and on. Not a bad spot to explore a city from.
Looking to the port (left) side from Rincon. In the background you can see a container ship ship passing from the inner harbor to the St. Lawrence. Rather close for a marina. Not many freighters up this far as it is the end of the harbor.

Montreal Botanical Garden

We’ve been doing the typical touristy things, visiting the botanical garden, walking the old port, visting museums, taking a ride in the dinghy. I think I’ll let this post mostly talk through the pics with commentary. We had to work around the weather a bit as we knew one day would be rather rainy. So, the 1st full day was the botanical garden.

This garden had the most beautiful greenhouses I’ve seen. You move from one environment on to another. And, with Covid, we had the greenhouses almost to ourselves!
They had a very nice succulent and cactus garden as well. I found some plants I MUST have as well as some I do which I did not know their name.
There was a whole greenhouse dedicated to begonias and African violets. I’ve never seen that before.
No all was inside. Some fun sculpture and lost children???
I was really looking forward to the Japanese Garden as I’ve seen such lovely ones in… well, Japan and Portland. Visit Portland if you have not the garden is spectacular. But, in Montreal, the Chinese garden was the star of the outdoor show.
I must tell the story from the sign about Pangu. It is rather long, but bare with me as I really liked it.

The story goes that before the world existed, the universe was like an enormous egg in which the Sky and the Earth were intermingled. Within the egg, everything was chaos and darkness. Yet Pangu slept there peacefully. When he awoke, 18,000 years later,, he opened up his huge hands and, in a powerful clap that sounded like thunder, smashed the shell of the egg that had become too small for him. All the elements that had been frozen for thousands of years were scattered in all directions.

Pangu then had to work for another 18,000 years to put them all back in place. He began by holding the Sky at arm’s length to separate it from the Earth. Eventually, exhausted from this exertions, he collapsed. His body then began to be transformed. His flesh turned into fertile soil, his blood into rivers, his sweat into rain, his bones into precious stones, his hair into trees and plants, his eyes into the Sun and the Moon, his breath into the wind, his voice into thunder, and his body’s lice and fleas into human beings.

Finally, Pangu’s arms and legs became the four cardinal points now rules by the Black Tortoise of the North, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Azure Dragon of the east, and the While Tiger of the West, all of whom are believed by some to have helped Pangu accomplish his colossal task of creating the world.
Bonsai apparently originated in China, not Japan. In China it is called Penjing. There was an incredible collection of Penging, gifts from China. The oldest was 140 years old! I can only imagine the generations of care for an individual tree.

Montreal Art Museum

On day two, we visited the Montreal Art Museum. An interesting museum focused mostly on Canadian artists. Interesting in that Canada has a relative young arts scene and seemingly not as developed as that in the US, Mexico or Europe. It was not until the 1920’s that formal art schools were opened in Canada with a sense of creating a Canadian identity to artistic endeavors. Amazing! Julia, Jim and I had lively discussions on the cause of this slowness to develop. Ultimately, Wikipedia lead us to believe it was the fault of the British. Well, not exactly, but continual fighting for “ownership” of the Canadian territory stunted artistic pursuits which took a turn for the worse after Britain ultimately gained control of Canada.

The premier exhibit right now at the museum is by Canadian artist Jean Paul Ropelle. Rather Jackson Pollock-like in much of his work. Although he studied much in Europe, his work is said to focus on Canadian identity and the northern territories of Canada. Without the subtext defining the work, I would not have gotten that theme. Clearly talented, but not being an abstract expressionist focused person, some of the other work caught my eye more. For example, this early First Nations Mask was quite thrilling to see.
Evidentially the Inuit have tradition of teaching stories and knowledge through string art. This sculpture represents one of these stories.
This piece just made me laugh! So playful! makes me think of what the kittens must think with the constantly changing scenery as we move around on the boat and seeing all that water. What does go on in these brains?
Who could not love the dung beetle? Actual sheep dung, gold leaf and, yes, a small dung beetle on top. This piece was in an exhibit on nature and the environment. Quite the industrious dung beetle.

The Lachine Canal

Day 3 had the hope of minimal rain and sunnier skies. So…., lets get that dinghy down and take a day trip on the Lachine Canal. Another historical lock system now managed by Parks Canada. Originally opened in 1825, the locks and canal circumvented a piece of rapids on St Lawrence near Montreal. This small 8 mile section that cuts through a part of Montreal linking the Great lakes to the Atlantic. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway (the locks and canals much bigger and better known), the Lachine became unused. In 2002 Parks Canada took it over as one more of their historic locks and canals.

Entering the first lock of the Lachine Canal. Such a different experience on a tiny boat.
The Lachine is an industrial canal. Not quite so picturesque, but still interesting. Old warehouses converted to condos and other businesses along with new, modern apartments line portions of the canal.
There are some pretty parks dotting the sides and a bike path along the whole distance.
Although I do enjoy looking at graffiti, sadly, there is LOTS of graffiti along the canal which does not add to the charm in most cases.
A very odd spot. A draw bridge completely covered, apparently for rework, although there was still car and truck traffic on it. We had to tuck through the small corner ant the lower right.
A flower mill still in business along the route.
One can rent swan and other paddle boats in one of the basins. Not sure they would let you lock through with them though.

Wrapping up Montreal

Julia left yesterday so we had a relaxed morning before getting her to her Uber for the airport. Jim and I managed to get the mast down for a 2nd time, using the windlass and some dock hands for help. The process is getting slightly easier, but still rather a pain in that the dinghy has to be deflated mostly and moved off center line on the boat.

We don’t know how we’ll raise it again once we reach Lake Champlain as we’d like to anchor out for a few days. Maybe we’ll just anchor and not dinghy anywhere. We are going to visit friends in Ticonderoga, so we have to either get the mast up and the dinghy off, or stay at a marina. Not many choices close to Ticonderoga. In any case, the mast must then come down again for the Champlain Canal. Jim is really wanting this mast gone. But, it has it’s uses for getting the bikes off the boat and things like anchor lights. All changeable, it just takes money!

Today is grocery shopping, a few boat chores, bills, and perhaps a bit of trinket shopping. We’ll see.

An icon, at least from the water, the Clock Tower. Montreal seems to really enjoy projecting videos onto buildings. This was one called “Suzanne”. Not sure if it was about her drowning, but seemed to hint that way.
We can see the Ferris wheel from our boat. We planned to ride it, but at $15 a piece to be crammed in a car with 5 people we did not know during Covid did not appeal to us. we could get a private car for something like $175. As much as we’d enjoy it, for 8 minutes, we decided to spend our money other ways. Pretty to look at though.
There is this train track that runs between the water front park and marina and the town. From the marina, we would hear trains but could not see them from the boat, too low down. Finally today, we hear the train. Finished getting ready for our grocery shopping, walked up the the park, the train is still going. We walk a half mile down to this point, the train is still going. I don’t know how many cars there were, but it went by for a good 20 – 30 minutes. Granted, it was moving slowly, but it was a LONG train. It only trapped foot and bicycle traffic as most car traffic is on the far side of the train. Trans rule!

Now, to set routes for tomorrows departure back toward the US. We’ll take a faster trip south so should be back in Lake Champlain by Tuesday.


Montreal — 2 Comments

  1. So much learned and enjoyed on my time on Rincon Feliz – was a great trip topped off with Montréal. Thanks Sylvia and Jim