For immediate release
THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER, ECHOES FROM THE SHORES
November 30, 2023 to March 3, 2024
A unique, multi-sensory experience!
(Montréal, November 29, 2023) — To echo the full majesty of the St. Lawrence River, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex, is offering visitors a multi-sensory exhibition that will immerse them in the thousand and one facets of this immense waterway. Starting November 30, The St. Lawrence River, Echoes from the Shores will take a captivating look at one of Canada’s longest rivers, which has been a true axis of communication between diverse riverside communities and the millions of people who live on and visit its banks.
The exhibition showcases the immeasurable wealth of the St. Lawrence, which has been designated as a historic heritage site by the National Assembly. To tell the river’s story, Pointe-à-Callière has put together a corpus of 300 significant objects drawn from rich Quebec museum collections mainly from the Musée maritime du Québec - Capitaine J.E. Bernier and the Musée de la civilisation - Québec as well as from its own collections.
The ten-stop visit traces the river’s rich history and explores its vast territory through themes such as river transportation, naval construction, shipwrecks, shipping methods, battles and conquests, different types of fishing, leisure activities, tourism and environmental issues. Along the way, projected images, textures, smells and sounds will engage the senses in fond memories that recall the beauty of this priceless natural treasure!
“In keeping with our mission to promote the Montréal of yesterday and today, this exhibition gives a multidisciplinary perspective of the majestic waterway that gave rise to Montréal’s birth and development. The river is an essential access route and, even today, it has positioned Montréal as a key hub of international trade. The St. Lawrence has always led to the economic and socio-cultural development of its riverside communities, and millions of people’s lives have depended on its shores. The history of this natural jewel, which is intrinsically linked to our city, deserves to be explored,” explained Anne Élisabeth Thibault, Executive Director of Pointe-à-Callière.
A GATEWAY TO THE INTERIOR CONTINENT
First Nations people have used the river’s banks for millennia, drawn sustenance from its resources, and used its waters to travel, trade and communicate. In the New France era, the St. Lawrence was a gateway to the inner North American continent for explorers and the backbone of the network that made up the fur trade. During the French Regime, the river’s configuration dictated where settlers could set up their villages, meaning that Québec City, Trois-Rivières and Montréal were all born out of and developed from its specific geometry.
A pivotal moment in the history of the river and Montréal was the construction of the Lachine Canal. As the first in a chain gradually linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, the canal let ships bypass the Lachine Rapids, a major obstacle to shipping. Since then, Montréal’s incredible expansion has been closely linked to the St. Lawrence River.
The objects to discover include the majestic Lady Edmonton figurehead from the Edmonton three-masted vessel; models of ships such as the RMS Empress of Ireland, the CSDL Tadoussac, and the CGS Mikula icebreaker; artifacts from shipwrecks such as the Elizabeth and Mary; accessories and clothing, including the cap of famous Quebec sailor Joseph-Elzéar Bernier; a diving suit; and naval construction tools. The exhibition also features commemorative objects that point to key sites along the river’s trajectory and that come from battles fought on the waterway, such as Sir William Phips’ attempt to conquer Quebec in 1690 and the Battle of the St. Lawrence during the Second World War.
In addition to these artifacts that raise the curtain on part of the river’s history, the exhibition features astonishing archival images, compelling testimonials, and rich documentary materials. Works that illustrate how the river has always been a source of infinite inspiration include the musical opus Flore Laurentienne by Gaspé composer Mathieu David Gagnon, which accompanies the exhibition’s final stop: a masterful projection by Silent Partners Studio of a dreamlike voyage on the St. Lawrence.
Influencing both its environment and the communities that use it, the river is presented in a setting that matches its immensity and portrays its future challenges, including its preservation for future generations.
The waves of the St. Lawrence await!
Lectures To accompany the temporary exhibition The St. Lawrence River, Echoes from the Shores, Pointe-à-Callière is organizing two lectures on the exhibition’s different aspects and themes.
The river and its shipwrecks
The story of the wrecks of the Elisabeth and Mary (1690), RMS Empress of Ireland (1914), and other underwater sites will illustrate the vast array of contexts and lessons that maritime archaeology has to teach us.
Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 1 pm
Discovering the majestic St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence enthusiast Serge Lepage will tell stories about how the river’s unique characteristics and complex environment make it home to exceptional plant and wildlife and how this river helped develop the northeast part of the continent. He will also discuss the environmental impacts of human activities on the quality of its waters as well as new threats to its ecosystems.
Sunday, January 28, 2024 at 1 pm
As a holiday treat, families can take part in creative workshops related to the exhibition between 1 pm and 4 pm from December 26 to 30, 2023 and from January 2 to 6, 2024. Enjoy painting and arts and crafts and build a model lighthouse!
A QUICK HISTORY OF THE MARINERS’ HOUSE
Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex, is also part of the St. Lawrence’s maritime history thanks to its Mariners’ House — National Bank Pavilion. The Montreal Sailors’ Institute was established on this site in 1875 to serve merchant marines calling at port in Montréal. In 1940, the port’s activities began growing, and more and more sailors came to the site, which quickly became too small for the demand. A new building was planned and inaugurated in 1954. Hundreds of thousands of sailors started using the building’s lounges, game rooms, chapel, concert hall, luggage storage, post office, foreign exchange office, barber shop and doctor’s office, as well as its cafeteria and bedrooms. In 1968, the Montreal Sailors’ Institute and the Catholic Sailors’ Club merged to form the Mariners’ House.
In 2004, the Museum acquired the building through the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation. In 2011, it became part of Pointe-à-Callière’s expansion project to create Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex. The building is called the Mariners’ House in homage to its history. For more information: pacmusee.qc.ca
The exhibition The St. Lawrence River, Echoes from the Shores is produced by Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex. The Museum thanks its lenders, sponsors and partners, including the Musée maritime du Québec – Capitaine J.E. Bernier, Musée de la civilisation – Québec, Tourisme Montréal, Hôtel InterContinental Montréal, La Presse and the City of Montréal.
ABOUT POINTE-À-CALLIÈRE, MONTRÉAL’S ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY COMPLEX
Inaugurated in 1992, on the city’s 350th anniversary, Pointe-à-Callière is today the largest archaeology museum in Canada and the busiest history museum in Montréal. Rising above a concentrated number of historic and archaeological sites of national significance—including the birthplace of Montréal—, the Museum has a mission to preserve its collections and to further knowledge, while showcasing and fostering an appreciation for Montréal’s archaeological and historical heritage. This mission is carried out through various activities focused on conservation, research, presentation, education, and inclusion, along with community initiatives benefiting both Montrealers and visitors to the city.
Pointe-à-Callière, proud partner of the City of Montréal.
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To download photos of the exhibition:
SOURCE: POINTE-À-CALLIÈRE, MONTRÉAL’S ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY COMPLEX
Katia Bouchard, Director of Communications and Marketing
P: 514-872-9124 / [email protected]
Geneviève Harvey / 514-927-1525 / [email protected]