On May 17, 1642, on a point of land at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and another, smaller river, Father Vimont held a mass celebrating the founding of Montréal, attended by Sieur de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and their companions. On May 17, 1992, on the very same site, Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, opened its doors.
Until the Museum opened, only historians knew about the "Pointe à Callière," so named because it was here that Chevalier Louis Hector de Callière, third governor of Montréal, had a home built in 1688. Today, the point has actually become part of the shoreline of the Island of Montréal, but its name lives on and is better known than ever, thanks to the Museum.
The Museum was founded as part of celebrations to mark Montréal’s 350th birthday, and owes its existence largely to the significant archaeological discoveries made on the site during the 1980s. In fact, the Museum and its site are inextricably linked. Rising above evidence of more than 1,000 years of human activity, it houses remarkable architectural remains, displayed in situ with absolute respect for their integrity. Pointe-à-Callière is the only sizeable archaeology museum in Canada. The hundreds of artifacts it houses are grouped into six main sections: the Éperon, a modern building that has won many architectural awards; the archaeological crypt on the lower level; the renovated Ancienne-Douane building (Montréal’s first Custom House), the Youville Pumping Station, the Archaeological Field School and the Mariners' House. The museum of a site, a history and a city, Pointe-à-Callière delves into the past to foster a debate on urban issues both local and global, and to encourage visitors to reflect on the future.
Pointe-à-Callière: recognized as a historical and archaeological site of national importance
On May 17, 1998, to mark the 6th anniversary of Pointe-à-Callière, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada unveiled a plaque commemorating "the site which gave birth to Montréal.” This tribute to the national historic importance of the Pointe à Callière site also saluted the restoration and development work done by the Museum. For this “little island” of land holds symbols that tell of the growth and development of a city that for many years was Canada’s metropolis.
The plaque also commemorates Place Royale as a crossroads of peoples since Native times.
...and by Quebec
The anniversary of the Museum and of the founding of Montréal, on May 17, 1999, was also an opportunity for the Quebec Department of Culture et des Communications (MCCQ) to officially classify the Pointe à Callière site as an important historic and archaeological site for all of Quebec.
These two tributes come as formal recognition of the heritage significance of these sites and of the Museum itself.
For more details on the commemorative plaques unveiled at Pointe-à-Callière, see (in French only) :