Today my mom and returned to our roots (kind of) when we went exploring in Old Montreal. It turns out that my great grandmom was born in Montreal in the late 1800’s and only came to the US after she was almost an adult. Her mother was an orphan who had emigrated from Ireland as an early teenager. These women were tough.
We walked from our bed & breakfast (Bob & Mariko’s Bed & Breakfast) between “the Village” and the Latin Quarter in Montreal. We walked down Avenue Laval to Rue Prince Arthur (an all pedestrian street) and then turned onto the Boulevard St Laurent. This road led us into “Old Montreal” by way of China town.
I learned, later in the day, that the chinese were so industrious by running their chinese laundries that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s they were earrning 3 to 4 times as much as they would have if they hadn’t been discriminated against the labor jobs they originally desired. Where did you learn this Brandi? Why at the Centre de-historie de Montreal (spelling??) of course!
It was in this recycled firehouse that I spent at least 2 hours learning about the history of this region, and specifically this city. The time line that was presented spanned from 4000 years ago to present time. Yes, there have been archaeological digs that excavated items from 4000 years ago!
The museum consisted of two floors with exhibits. The first floor was organized by time periods. The topographic, political, religious and ethnic make up for each time period was discussed and presented in interesting displays. For instance, I had no idea that at one point the province of Quebec was potentially trying to secede from Canada?!? Did anyone else know that? There were bomb threats and actual bombings that occurred in this city over the government forcing children to attend french only schools versus english language schools (and I’m sure more complex issues than that)… the peace accord was only signed around 2000!! I was shocked.
The second floor of the museum was dedicated to a “Suzy Homemaker” type figure who directed you through displays of items that were either made in Montreal or had impacted daily life in Montreal over the years. So… there were washing machines, irons, juicers, furniture, cooking appliances, etc. There was always a story behind the item… here’s one that I found interesting. We all know that Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine, right? Well, apparently 7-Up used to contain LITHIUM!! That’s the same lithium that is sometimes given as a mood stabilizer to individuals who are bipolar! No wonder it perked the average person up! I forget what year that was finally taken out of the formulation we all know.
Well, after the normal lunch hour (for me) my mom and I left the museum and wandered around in the general direction of St Patrick’s Basilica. We stopped off at a cafe to have a quick bite of lunch and then headed to the church. You might be wondering, “what was your purpose going to another church Brandi?” ( forot to say that we did see the Notre Dame Cathedral earlier today) We went there because we were hoping that they had archives that would document the birth of my great grandmom (see above reference). Though we are not catholic I have found it hard to believe that an Irish orphan immigrant from County Cork would have been sent to Canada all by herself if she was actually protestant. And seriously, when >95% of the Republic of Ireland’s population was Catholic why should I think that my ancestor wouldn’t be Catholic also. So we went into the basilica. it was beautiful. On the doorways entering either side were stained glass windows with green shamrocks worked into the design as a tribute to the Irish make-up of this church.
Unfortunately the parish office no longer keeps archives of its parishioners but the nice lady who worked in the office gave us the contact information of the archive office of Montreal which WOULD have that information. The hope is that we can find more info about my great grandmom’s mom (the one who came from Ireland) and maybe we can learn more about her family in Ireland. Who knows?
Anyway. after walking through a bit of the underground city (and sipping some coffee) we hopped on the metro (it was pouring by this time) and jetted back to our B&B. Though we took a taxi from the train station last night when we arrived (because we had already been on a train for ~ 12 hrs) and didn’t want to have to navigate anymore… it was so easy to get there via public transportation! After making one connection (less than 2 minute wait between trains) we were at our station. Out we walked and within 5 minutes were opening the door to our B&B.
At this point my mom took a much needed nap (she certainly was a trooper today with all the walking) and I checked my email and read the start of The Inferno by Dante (which I have never read)… maybe I’ll take it with me and read it in the lovely little reading room at the B&B… complete with Gustav Klimt print in the background. I want one of these rooms in my house!
Oh… for those of you who didn’t notice… I’m not wearing glasses!! I’m also not wearing contact lenses… I had LASIK!! Though it was not the most pleasant experience (for me) I am so glad I had it done because it is just wonderful to be able to see clearly without any assistance.
OK. I need to wrap up because I’m getting hungry (well it is 7:30PM people!) and my mom has woken up from her nap.
The rest of my late afternoon/early evening was spent spending money!! I went to the LUSH store, one of which just happens to be about a 10 minute walk from my B&B. It was wonderful. I know that I could go to the one in Philly or AC (and I will… I promise) but Canada is the home of LUSH and I haven’t actually been able to smell all the products and then decide what I want. So I did just that. Sixty dollars later (and I could have spent more) I left the shop and started back to the B&B but I got distracted by this beautiful asymmetrical shirt/jacket… beautiful. So I hiked up the steps and into the boutique. After finding the correct size and having the assistant show me all the ways this jacket could be worn I purchased it and took it with me, though not on me just yet because I was a bit overheated from going in and out of the drizzle into warm shops. Can’t wait to wear it this fall because it is just great…
Tomorrow we hope for sun (!) and then a trip to the botanic gardens (minus the insectarium due to labor disputes), the biodome and maybe the mount royal park (modeled after central park in NY, maybe same designer? I can’t remember). Then Saturday we head home… sob:( Another 11 hrs (min) on the train to NYC and then NJ transit to Trenton and Riverline to Camden. What a day! At least border patrol is at the start of the trip this time as opposed to 9 hours into it! Hopefully no one gets taken off the train to be questioned this time!