Mount Royal

2018 November 10

Here’s one last thing I wanted to include from our trip to Montreal on June 25, 2018. While driving to town, I was looking at the city map we had picked up at the tourist information center, and I noticed that there was a huge greenspace right in the middle of the city. We were wondering why, with the rest of the city so built up and property values presumably high, such a large area had been left as a park. Then, after getting to the hotel, Rosie and I went up to the 11th floor (which was where the pool was located), and I looked out of the windows.

Oh. That’s why . . .


There’s a mountain in the middle of the city! After getting home, I looked it up and found that this was Mount Royal, which is actually the source of the name “Montreal”. Yes, the city is named after the mountain.

Well, of course, I had to climb this at some point. So after we got back from the botanical gardens and I’d had an hour or so to get my camera charged, away I went. The girls were too tired from all the walking we did earlier that morning, and Sandy didn’t want to leave them alone in the hotel, so I went up by myself. It turned out to be obvious where to climb up, there were stairs.


There were 509 actual steps by my count, plus about the same amount of elevation change with a series of winding trails. The total height is 764 feet above sea level, and probably 600 feet of that is the climb up from downtown.

Mount Royal is a basalt plug that was left behind after the softer parts of a volcano eroded away. The rock remaining is very hard, and in fact it is similar to The Nut, another volcanic plug that I posted from our trip to Tasmania some years ago.


I didn’t know what to expect at the top, but it turned out to be this massive chalet and viewing area.


It has a pretty commanding view of the whole city, and off in the distance we can see a few more eroded volcano plugs. I believe those are Mont Saint-Hilaire, Mont Rougemont, and Mont Yamaska. These mountains are the northwestern end of the chain of volcanoes produced by the New England Hotspot as the North American Plate moved over it in the course of the last 200 million years.

For some reason, the dominant plant under the viewing area was mostly sumac, which was in bloom at the time. Later in the fall, those white blossoms turn into spikes of tiny red fruits.


The chalet was basically an enormous function hall, I assume that people can rent it for major events.


There are some nice touches inside, like the carved squirrel “gargoyles”.


There was a pretty substantial mowed lawn around the chalet, probably 10 acres or so.


I spotted what I thought at first was another disjuct population of thimbleberries, like what we have back in the Keweenaw.


But, on closer examination, the leaves were a bit more deeply notched, and I see now that the blossoms were pale purple instead of white, so I think it was most likely a variety of Purple-Flowered Raspberry, Rubus odoratus


There was a road all the way around the peak of the mountain. I assume that there is a road up the mountain too, but the only vehicles I saw were a police car and an ambulance[1], so I expect that casual visitors are discouraged from driving to the top. The road probably had a very nice view when it was first put in, but the trees have grown up enough that there are only occasional spots where you can see through them.


Aside from the chalet, there were two other substantial structures on top of the mountain. One is this gigantic cross (I think the little skirt around the base is to keep people from climbing up it);

The other is this big radio transmission tower. I expect that this has a clear field of view for probably 50 miles, so this was the ideal place to put such a structure.


[1] The people that I saw at the top were, in general, skewed towards younger and reasonably physically fit. If the only allowed way up is to climb, that would tend to weed out people who aren’t particularly athletic. Still, I imagine that out-of-shape climbers giving themselves heart attacks is fairly common, and so it is good that the ambulances can get up there.

One Response
  1. December 3, 2018

    Beautiful. San Diego doesn’t have any large green spaces outside of the canyons. Which are brown most of the year anyway…

    Los Angeles has even fewer. I wonder if that’s a feature of land prices. In Montreal, you can always keep building radially out from the center. In SD and LA, you run into oceans, mountains and desert.

Comments are closed.