Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Chalet atop Mount Royal, Montreal, Canada

When is a postcard not a postcard?  When it is a postcard-notecard. When can it be considered a postcard? When it is saved in your grandmother's keepsake postcard box. This is the only in her collection that opens for the sender to include a longer message inside. I have checked carefully and see no indication that it was ever sealed in any way. No tape or tape marks, no glue or stickum of any kind. I guess that, if one wanted to post a personal or sensitive message, this would not have been the medium. But it served the purpose for my traveling uncle Jim to send the following message to his mother, my grandmother Nellie:

Dearest Mom, Our trip so far has been very interesting & thoroughly enjoyable. Chicago was nice, Grand Rapids better, and Montreal is best yet. Such an interesting city 1,200,000 population - largest city in Canada - 7th largest city in North Amer. People 2/3 % French extraction. All public signs written in French & English. Elevator stops called in both languages. We took 2-1/2 hr. ride in old 75 yr. old carriage driven by old man & 2 horses . . .

Jim did not say, but since this old card shows the horse and carriage in front of the Chalet I like to think that was where he and his wife went on their 2-1/2 hour carriage ride. It would be worth the ride or drive, and I base that opinion on the stunning Flickr photo taken in 2009 of the interior that you can view here. Wow! Take a look; I will wait for you to return.........

The history of Mount Royal, including Mount Royal Park, is fascinating. Not a very tall mountain (764 ft.), "Mount Royal (French: Mont Royal, is a mountain in the city of Montreal, immediately north of downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the city to which it gave its name. . . Some tourist guidebooks, such as the famous Michelin Guide to Montreal, state that Mount Royal is an extinct volcano. The mountain is not a traditional volcano as such. However, it is the deep extension of a vastly eroded ancient volcanic complex, which was probably active about 125 million years ago. . ." (source, including following info: Wikipedia. )

The first European to scale the mountain was Jacques Cartier, guided there in 1535 by the people of the village of Hochelega. He named it in honour of his patron, King François I of France. He wrote in his journal:
[translated from French]
"And among these fields is situated and seated the said town of Hochelaga, near to and adjoining a mountain ... We named this mountain, Mount Royal."
. . . The first Mount Royal Cross was placed there in 1643 by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city, in fulfillment of a vow he made to the Virgin Mary when praying to her to stop a disastrous flood. Today, the mountain is crowned by a 31.4 m (103 ft)-high illuminated cross, installed in 1924 by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and now owned by the city. . .

. . . The mountain is the site of Mount Royal Park (in French: Parc du Mont-Royal), one of Montreal's largest greenspaces. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central Park, and inaugurated in 1876, although not completed to his design.

Olmsted had planned to emphasize the mountainous topography through the use of vegetation. Shade trees at the bottom of the carriage path would resemble a valley. As the visitor went higher, the vegetation would get more sparse to give the illusion of exaggerated height. City officials wanted a reservoir atop the mountain instead and Olmsted planned a grand promenade around it. However, Montreal suffered a depression in the mid 1870s and many of Olmsted's plans were abandoned. The carriage way was built, but it was done hastily and without regards to the original plan. None of the vegetation choices was followed, and the reservoir was never built.

The park contains two belvederes, the more prominent of which is the Kondiaronk Belvedere, a semicircular plaza with a chalet, overlooking downtown Montreal. . .

The four cent stamp on this old card features another royal, King George VI, who is a new hero of mine since seeing the marvelous movie The King's Speech. He had a great-grandson who himself will be saying a few important words that the world will be riveted to hear coming soon, this April 29th!

(Trailer runs 2:23 after .30 sec. ad)

[I intend to add a tab under my header that will include links to audio tapes that my uncle Jim recorded when he was in his 80s, memories of his mother and father, his boyhood, and of America in the early 20th Century. So far, I have posted two segments of Memories lit the corners of Jim's mind HERE and HERE.] 



Anonymous said...

Love the old picture - and that link was good too!

mythopolis said...

Your 'project' of keeping the memories of your uncle alive is absolutely priceless!!!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

remind me what's happening on April 29th again?

Yeah - right, as if i could forget :)

So - this chalet on top of a mount made me, for some reason, think of the solitary shop at the peak of Mount Snowdon - the second highest mountain in the uk (Ben Nevis, Scotland, Snowdon in Wales and Scarfel Pike in the Lake District). There's a train that goes up the mountain, but due to the extreme weather the shop is often closed and the train often has to stop 3/4 of the way

Leovi said...

Beautiful Old Postcard, What an interesting history and beautiful place. A greeting.

Looking to the Stars said...

WOW, you really did a great job on sharing this. Loved the postcard, loved the link to the inside of Chalet (it is amazing). Haven't seen The King's Speech but am looking forward to seeing it. Your Uncle Jim was a wonderful person, love the fact that you share him with us :)

susan said...

I lived in Montreal for nearly 2 years and walked up that mountain almost every day. It's too bad the park design was never fully completed but the view from the top and on the way up was great. Nice post and excellent story.

Lydia said...

Jane~ Hi there. Glad you enjoyed this. Isn't the interior of that chalet striking? :)

mythopolis~ After my mother's death in 2000 I really connected with those tapes recorded by my uncle, where I had paid them no attention prior to then. The family history became more important to me as time went by and I have enjoyed preserving it for others in my family. I recently joined and what a rich environment that is!

Pixies~ I am really intrigued by what you wrote about Mount Snowden! It sounds like a magical kind of place with the little shop on top. I will Google that area for some views.
Yeah, April 29 ought to be something else for all of you there. I bet it is fun being there with all the anticipation and excitement. I must admit to being wrapped up in this one, where the marriage of Diana and Charles meant nothing to me at that time.

Leovi~ Thank you for your nice comment and, always, for your exciting blog. :)

Looking to the Stars~ I love the fact that you enjoy me sharing Jim with you, my friend. Glad that you liked the picture of the interior and the rest of the story here. (You will love that movie, I think!)

susan~ You become more interesting to me all the time! I did not realize that you had lived in Canada for that long a period before your recent move back there. For some reason I thought you had come to the U.S. as a baby....
That is just cool that you have walked up that mountain and know the view. Thanks for sharing. :)



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