Mount Royal – summit’s and belvedere’s! (Mount Royal, Outremont, Westmount…and St. Joseph’s!)
Mount Royal is a combination of three hills, shaped thousands of years ago by ice age glaciers, but, it’s geology goes back over 100 million years ago steeped in a history of an ancient volcanic complex. Indigenous people have a long history on Mount Royal; living, hunting and farming. Their staple foods of corn, squash and beans were aptly named the Three Sisters. In 1535, Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River and gave the mountain it’s name of “Mont Royal”. In 1643, Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, carried a wooden cross up to Mont Royal after his prayers were answered to prevent flooding.
In 1874, the landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, designed Mount Royal Park as we know it today. Incredible homes and structures have sprung up around the slopes of this beautiful mountain. The mansions of the Golden Square Mile, McGill University, The Royal Victoria Hospital, L’Universite de Montreal, St. Joseph’s Oratory, The Trafalger-Gleneagles historic buildings, as well as the massive Mount Royal Cemetery and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery.
This walk was an endurance walk to go to each summit and belvedere (look-out) of the mountain. These are:
(1) Mount Royal proper, which includes the Kondiaronk Belvedere and then the Belvedere Camillien-Houde;
(2) Belvedere Outremont (or Mount Murray); and
(3) Westmount Summit lookout.
Now, we must add a 4th “summit” lookout, which is the terrase of St. Joseph’s Oratory. The height and view from this vantage point at St.Joseph’s Oratory is spectacular and must be included as a 4th lookout of Mount Royal !
Mount Royal at it’s summit is 233 metres (764 feet). Belvedere Outremont is 211 metres (692 feet). Westmount Summit is 201 metres (659 feet). St. Joseph’s Oratory is Canada’s largest church – construction began in 1904 and ended in 1967. The Oratory is taller than Saint Pauls Cathedral in London, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Saint Patricks Cathedral in New York. The outer cupola has a diameter of 39 meters (125 feet). It rises 155 meters (506 feet) above street level and 263 meters (856 feet) above sea level.
C and D started this walk at the corner of Redpath Street and Dr. Penfield Avenue, right beside Percy Walters Park (a beautiful dog park!). Walking north on Redpath, you need to climb some stairs to reach the intersection of Pine and Cedar Avenues. Walk uphill and north-west on Cedar for about 100 feet and you will reach one of the entrance’s to Mount Royal Park. Walk thru the woods on the dirt path and you will come to the main trail, called Olmsted Trail. This trail winds around all of the mountain in some manner. Turn right on Olmsted Trail until you get to a junction with a set of signs on your right and a set of stairs on your left. Take these stairs all the way up to the Mount Royal Chalet and the Kondiaronk Belvedere. This is the first lookout with impressive sights across downtown Montreal, the St. Lawrence River, the south shore and beyond. Continue walking east on the trail leading away from the chalet and you will come straight to the Mount Royal Cross, which lights up at night. It is 31.4 metres (103 ft) in height. Keep walking on the trail until you come to a turn off going down hill, there is a sign that points to Belvedere Camillien-Houde. Walk thru the trees until you come to this striking lookout with amazing views to the east of the city, including the Olympic Stadium and the Port of Montreal. As you leave the Belvedere Camillien-Houde, you will have to take a side trail again thru the woods downhill and this will lead you to the eastern slopes of the mountain on Park Avenue. You will arrive at the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument (completed in 1919) and is 31 metres (101.0 ft) in height.
Walk north on Park Avenue to the first corner and walk west on Mount Royal Avenue into the city of Outremont. Keep walking for about 15 or 20 minutes until you come to the Outremont entrance to Mount Royal, it will be two concrete posts with a green and gold ND. This is an older part of the mountain, just recently opened to the public. There is a cool little stone map of the mountain highlighting the Cross, the University de Montreal pavillion and St. Joseph’s Oratory. Stay on the main trail and it will bring you straight to the Belvedere Outremont with beautiful views looking north thru the city of Outremont. This is a great spot for a picnic. Directly behind the Belvedere Outremont is the entrance to Notre Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery. Go thru the gates and walk thru this huge cemetery, making your way south west. You will see the University de Montreal Pavillion on your right and St. Joseph’s Oratory to the west. As you exit the cemetery at Queen Mary Road and Decelles Avenue, there is the Jarry dit Henrichon house (built in 1751). Walk west on Queen Mary, crossing Cote des Neiges Road and you will arrive at the magnificent St. Joseph’s Oratory. Go up the stairs and visit inside the basilica if you wish and behind the church is the original humble little chapel that Brother Andre first built. Going out the back entrance you will see the gates going into Westmount. Walk along Summit Cresscent, which will lead you to the Summit Woods and Summit Circle. This is upper Westmount and you will arrive at the Westmount Summit lookout. Terrific views of Montreal, the St. Lawrence River and beyond, including the new Champlain Bridge. Exit the Westmount lookout by taking the stairs below it and walk thru the path to Sunnyside Avenue, turn off at Belvedere Road and walk to The Boulevard. Walking east you will come to the corner of Cote des Neiges Road and immediately see the impressive apartment towers of The Trafalgar (built 1931) and The Gleneagles (built 1929). This little block they are on is included in the protected perimeter of Mount Royal. Continue south on Cote des Neiges Road to Dr. Penfield Avenue and back east to Percy Walters Park.
We did this walk on Sunday August 4, 2019 between 10:15am and 3:30pm.
Stairs at Redpath Street
Entrance to MountRoyal park via Cedar Avenue
Horse water trough on Olmsted Trail
Olmsted Trail junction signs
Stairs to Mount Royal Chalet
Mount Royal Chalet
View from Kondiaronk Belvedere
Mural of Leonard Cohen as seen from lookout
Mount Royal Cross
Trail sign junction
View from Camillien-Houde
View from Belvedere Camillien-Houde
Port of Montreal in distance
View from Belvedere Camillien-Houde
Olympic Stadium in distance
Mount Royal trail
Georege Etienne Cartier Monument
Mount Royal Avenue
Entrance at Mount Royal Avenue to Belvedere Outremont
Bronze 3-D Map of Mountain
Shows the Cross, the U de M Pavillion and St. Joseph’s Oratory
View from Belvedere Outremont looking north
Entrance to Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
View of the University of Montreal Pavillion thru the cemetery
View of the St. Joseph’s Oratory thru the cemetery
Jarry dit Henrichon house
St. Joseph’s Oratory
Gate into Westmount behind St. Joseph’s Oratory
Panaramic view from Westmount Lookout
View looking from Westmount Lookout
The new Champlain Bridge can be seen
View looking south east from Westmount Lookout
Westmount Lookout, as seen from below
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