French-born governor of Montreal Claude de Ramezay established the delightful Château Ramezay in 1705. It was the first building ever to be classified as a historic monument in Quebec. Because the chateau is one of the few historical sites to trace the history of New France colonisation in North America, a team of experts, working with UNESCO, in 2010 dubbed it one of the 1,001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die.
This lavish governor’s residence nestled in the heart of Old Montreal now serves as a brilliant museum. It boasts more than 30,000 historical paintings, drawings, etchings, vintage photographs of Old Montreal, furnishings, and archaeological and ethnological artefacts. It also features a vast numismatic (coin and medal) collection from Canada and around the globe as well as an excellent library. The chateau brings more than 300 years of conservation and heritage to life.
Indeed, exploring the different rooms of the Château Ramezay is like walking through a portal in time – see what it was like to live in 18th-century Montreal through exhibits and multimedia presentations. During the warmer months, step outside to continue your historic journey in the Governor’s Garden, which beautifully presents, albeit on a much smaller scale, an homage to the spectacular original 4,200-square-metre French colonial garden that once stood here. The now 750-square-metre garden comprises a kitchen garden for fresh produce, a herb and medicinal plants section, a pleasure garden for entertaining and an orchard for growing and harvesting fruit.
In winter (from Canadian Thanksgiving Day until May 31), the museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am to 4:30pm. In summer (June 1 to Canadian Thanksgiving Day), both the museum and the Governor’s Garden are open daily from 9:30am to 6pm. To get to Château Ramezay, take the Metro to Champ-de-Mars station; from there it’s a short walk. You’ll want to have your camera ready, because across the road from the chateau is the beautiful five-storey Montreal City Hall. With its elegant façade and grand Napoleon III-style architecture, it’s well worth a look. And you should make a plan to revisit it after nightfall to see it illuminated in all of its splendour.