December 2013

Pirates or Privateers?

For immediate release

Pointe-à-Callière’s new permanent exhibition explores the world of Montréal privateer Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville, in a building entirely redesigned for children and families.
Starting December 10, 2013

Montréal, December 10, 2013 – Pointe-à-Callière is seeking curious and courageous young people who are ready to embark on an adventure! The Pirates or Privateers? exhibition gives young visitors and families a golden opportunity to discover and measure themselves up to the rough and ready sailors who scoured the St. Lawrence River in the days of New France.

Presented in an immersive environment, this discovery-exhibition takes place in a setting evoking a privateer ship—The Iberville—on which young people, playing their parts in a tale of adventure, can test their physical and intellectual skills.

“Montréal’s archaeology and history museum has been showcasing our origins and heritage for over twenty years now. The inauguration of this exhibition marks a turning point, as it is the first permanent exhibition entirely dedicated to young people. By encouraging them to take an interest in our history through a fun and interactive exhibition, Pointe-à-Callière directly contributes to awakening their imagination and their knowledge of history,” stated MNA Daniel Breton, representing the Minister of Culture and Communications, Maka Kotto, at the exhibition’s inauguration.

“The Museum’s temporary Pirates, Privateers and Freebooters exhibition was such a great success that we wanted to produce a permanent exhibition on the same subject, in response to family and school group demand. The Pirates or Privateers? exhibition offers an immersive and entertaining adventure with its roots in our history, during the period of New France. Pointe-à-Callière remains committed to imparting historical knowledge to youth in educational and entertaining ways. This exhibition will certainly contribute to these efforts,” explained Francine Lelièvre, Executive Director of Pointe-à-Callière.

A building redesigned for children and families
Pirates or Privateers? is being presented on the ground floor in the Ancienne-Douane – J. Armand Bombardier Foundation Building, which has been completely redesigned for families. In addition to the exhibition, an all-new area in the building’s basement—the Saputo Lunch Room, designed to look like an inn—has been made available for use by families and school groups, featuring lunch and rest spaces. Back upstairs, spaces have been revamped to accommodate school program activities and various cultural presentations.

Privateer and Pirate… What’s the difference?
Often mistaken for one another, pirates and privateers dealt with very similar challenges, but one group worked legitimately while the other didn’t. Privateers were sailors on armed civilian ships that, in times of war, were authorized by their government with a “letter of marque” to attack any ship—in particular, merchant traffic—flying the flag of enemy states. Pirates, on the other hand, were seafaring adventurers who sailed the waters attacking trade ships and stealing their booty, and who sometimes even attacked small seaside towns. Pirates are considered to be bandits of the seas.

Spotlight on New France!
The exhibition offers a unique experience that brings to life the world of Montréal privateer Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville. It is set during the Franco-British war in the late 17th/early 18th century, and gives young people a chance to serve on armed vessels manned by individuals who possess an authorization from the King of France to attack enemy trade ships.

Ship’s captain Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville must enlist young recruits to be part of his crew. D’Iberville invites young candidates to explore life aboard a period ship to see if they’ve got what it takes to become privateers. They will have to serve New France and face up to the enemy in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, on the Atlantic coast, and all the way to Newfoundland. It’s an opportunity for young people to explore fun and interactive spaces as they embark on an adventure with D'Iberville.

Cast off for adventure… and learn while having fun
This interactive and immersive experience is sure to delight young people, as they embark on an adventure that takes them through the entire exhibition: they’ll need to rely on their initiative, team spirit, and physical and intellectual abilities. They will have a number of challenges to overcome: proving they’ve got their sea legs, turning the capstan to raise anchor, correctly arming a cannon, and even pretending to defend the territory by attacking an enemy ship!

Privateer for a day
The exhibition also explores various aspects of the privateers’ daily lives, such as their diet, their duties while aboard a ship, and the punishment to which they were subjected... Visitors learn about the know-how required to execute maritime manoeuvres, and are given a peek into the captain’s quarters. And upon returning to dry land, it will finally be time to examine the booty... and to congratulate each other on a job well done! The exhibition features several objects and artefacts, including navigational instruments, personal objects, tools, weapons... and, of course, the booty brought back from expeditions at sea.

Learning about a famous figure from our history
This new exhibition highlights the role and the importance of Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville, an explorer and privateer born on Saint-Paul Street in Old Montréal, in the era when Ville-Marie was at the centre of the fur trade in New France. By following the famous captain’s exploits, young people will embark on a true adventure that will give them a chance to experience what life was like for a privateer. The exhibition is capped off with an activity that plunges visitors into the famous privateer’s eventful life. In order to make the activity as immersive as possible, the Museum has turned to the experts at Ubisoft Montréal to create hyper-realistic animation using CG images that put visitors right in the middle of a naval battle on the high seas.

An enhanced school and family-friendly outing
This permanent discovery-exhibition for families—a first for Pointe-à-Callière—joins the Archaeo-Adventure workshop, a unique, simulated archaeological dig space for young people and families. Each year, close to 100,000 young visitors make their way through Pointe-à-Callière’s doors. Half of this number is made up of school groups, while the others come with their families. The Museum strives to offer them an experience that is both enriching and stimulating, allowing them to independently explore fascinating worlds.

Who was Pierre Le Moyne D'Iberville?
A navigator, privateer, soldier, and explorer, Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville played an important role in New France by successfully battling the English army over a good part of his life, destroying several enemy colonies. An experienced soldier, he led a campaign that allowed the French to control important trading posts located in Hudson’s Bay. The great explorer also established several forts, and is responsible for the colonization of New Orleans, and the founding of the cities of Biloxi (Mississippi) and Mobile (Alabama). His life and exploits were the subject of a popular 39-episode television series called D’Iberville, broadcast in 1967 and 1968 on the Radio-Canada network, starring an array of well-known actors and actresses

Young people in school groups or from daycare centres, from day camps or with family members—all are invited to weigh anchor and cast off, taking part in a captivating experience. Pirates or Privateers? is the type of entertaining blend of history and fun that can only be found at Pointe-à-Callière. The exhibition was created for 6 to 12 year-olds and families.

About Pointe-à-Callière
Pointe-à-Callière is the only major archaeology museum in all of Québec and Canada; its museum complex rises above a concentrated number of national historic and archaeological sites that illustrate major eras in the history of Montréal, Québec, and Canada. It opened in 1992, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Montréal. Pointe-à-Callière’s mission is to raise awareness and foster an appreciation of Montréal’s history, and to forge bonds with regional, national, and international networks concerned with archaeology, history, and urban issues.

This exhibition has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Department of Culture and Communications and the City of Montréal. The Museum thanks its partners and sponsors: The J. Armand Bombardier Foundation, Saputo, the Alcoa Foundation, La Presse, and The Gazette.

Pointe-à-Callière is subsidized by the City of Montréal.