Montreal Photo of the Day – April 15th 2015

Place du Canada staircase

Thought I’d try something new; I’ve got a ton of photos of the city, so I’ll add a new one every day from here on in.

Took this photo on Sunday April 12th, arguably the first really nice day of the year.

This staircase links Rue de la Gauchetiere with the Place du Canada complex.

It’s not obvious as the staircase is actually partially masked by the large slab of granite that hosts the Place du Canada Chateau Champlain sign at street level. In any event, it’s located between Place du Canada’s Gauchetiere street entrance and the entrance to the hotel.

The staircase leads up to a large open space that surrounds the Chateau Champlain’s tower that serves as a kind of overhead public plaza, in turn leading to the park across the street, which was once upon a time called Dominion Square but has been known as Place du Canada since 1967. So there’s a public park, a plaza and an office tower/hotel complex all referred to by the same name. At least they’re all in the same place…

The ‘sky bridge’ that links the Place du Canada complex south of de la Gauchetiere with Place du Canada to the north is unique in Montreal (or at least I can’t think of another viaduct that connects two public spaces over a city street), not only due to its inherent novelty, but also because it allows access to the office tower at the same elevation as Boul. René Lévesque despite the maybe 30-40 foot drop in elevation between the edge of the park and Saint Antoine further south.

Odd too that it was built during the reign of Mayor Jean Drapeau, who apparently wasn’t keen on the idea of elevated pedestrian walkways.

In any event, the plaza this staircase leads to is never terribly busy, and is blocked off from Place du Canada (the public park) as the latter is undergoing major renovations at the moment. I don’t seem to recall an entrance to the hotel from plaza level, though there are several exits from the building out onto the plaza. It’s a pity too; there’s a wrap-around walkway that leads to a terrace on the Peel Street side, and the space would make for a great setting for a restaurant in my opinion. From what I recall there’s a plaza level addition to the hotel, possibly the gym, that somewhat clumsily cuts the main plaza off from the generally sunnier terrace on the Peel Street side.

That said, highly recommended location for shots of the city’s Dorchester Square area, good vantage point for a lot of the taller towers and a refreshingly peaceful location if you just want a nice quiet place to think or read a book in the very heart of a bustling metropolis.

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