Mount Mont-Royal is one of Montreal’s most iconic landmarks. The illuminated cross was erected on the summit in 1924. It was constructed on the site where a wooden cross stood as early as the seventeenth century.
In December 1642, the city of Montreal, then a fortified settlement called Ville-Marie, was threatened by a devastating flood. The founder of the city, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, prayed to the Virgin Mary and vowed to erect a cross in her honor if the settlement could be saved from the flood.
The water receded, and de Maisonneuve kept his promise. On January 6 of the following year, he personally carried the wooden cross all the way to the top of Mount Royal.
The New Cross
In 1874, at the initiative of the Sulpician priest Pierre Dupage, the Community of Saint-Jean-Baptiste (founded to protect the interests of the French-speaking population in Quebec) proposed a new metal cross to honor de Maisonneuve. Funded by a fundraiser, the project ran into financial problems, and the cross was not completed until fifty years later, in September 1924. Five years later, it was turned over to the city.
The complex was built by the Dominion Bridge Company, a local bridge builder. It included an observatory at the base of the cross and originally rested on a stone pedestal.
Montreal Light, Heat & Power provided free electricity to light the cross, which to this day is lit at night. The LED lights are sometimes painted in different colors. Each color has a special meaning. Purple, for example, indicates that the Pope has died.
The cross is thirty meters high and is placed at a height of 251 meters. It is one of Montreal’s most prominent landmarks and can be seen from all over the city.
On a clear day, it can be seen from a distance of eighty kilometers. You can reach the cross from Mount Royal Chalet by walking north on the inner loop of Chemin Olmstead.
Although this cross does not look as imposing as the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, it is still the city’s most important monument.