Museums and Galleries

Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

Built in 1903 as Montreal's Central Fire Station, this redbrick and sandstone building is now the Montreal History Center, which traces the development of the city from its first residents, the Amerindians, to the European settlers who arrived in 1642, to the present day. Throughout its 14 rooms, carefully conceived presentations chart the contributions of the city fathers and mothers and subsequent generations. The development of the railroad, Metro, and related infrastructure are recalled, as is the creation of domestic and public architecture, in imaginative exhibits, videos, and slide shows. On the second floor, reached by a spiral staircase, is memorabilia from the early 20th century.

Musee Marc-Aurele Fortin

This is Montreal's only museum dedicated to the work of a single French-Canadian artist. Landscape watercolorist Marc-Aurele Fortin (1888-1970) interpreted the beauty of the Quebec countryside, especially the Laurentians and Charlevoix. The museum also mounts temporary exhibits, usually featuring the work of other Quebecois painters (varied in style, but typically representative rather than nonobjective or abstract).

Musee Redpath

If the unusual name seems slightly familiar, think of the wrappings on sugar cubes in many Canadian restaurants. John Redpath was a 19th-century industrialist who built Canada's first sugar refinery and later distributed much of his fortune in philanthropy. This quirky museum, housed in an 1882 building with a grandly proportioned and richly appointed interior, is on the McGill University campus. The main draws are its collection of Egyptian antiquities, the second largest in Canada, and skeletons of whales and prehistoric beasts.

Musee de la Banque de Montreal

Facing Place d'Armes is Montreal's oldest bank building, with a classic facade beneath a graceful dome, a carved pediment, and six Corinthian columns. The outside dimensions and appearance remain largely unchanged since the building's completion in 1847. The interior was renovated from 1901 through 1905 by the famed U.S. firm McKim, Mead, and White, who added Ionic and Corinthian columns of Vermont granite, walls of pink marble from Tennessee, and a counter of Levanto marble. The bank contains a small museum with a replica of its first office (and its first bank teller, Henry Stone, from Boston), gold nuggets from the Yukon, a $3 bill (one of only two known), and a collection of 100-year-old mechanical banks.