National Geographic : 1967 May
and confidence," he said. "Montreal once had a repu tation as a sin city; with it went graft and corruption. That's all changed. "Probably the one great happening that made the rest possible was reorganization of the police department. That restored confidence in Montreal's future-for the people, the visitor, the investor." First elected on a reform slate, Drapeau reorganized the city government to create new efficiency, revamped the administrative system, and resourcefully tackled problem after problem. His relentless drive leads even critics to say he has done more than any other one man to spark Montreal's boom. That ferment has touched one part of the city with fascinating results: restoration of Montreal's Old Quar ter. It grew near the site where explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535 discovered an Indian village, where Samuel de Champlain in 1611 established a short-lived trading post, and where the Sieur de Maisonneuve, with a band of some thirty men and three women, founded the per manent settlement of Ville-Marie de Montreal in 1642. Cartier had named the hill dominating the island site Mont Real-Mount Royal-supposedly because his king wanted to flatter a cardinal with a place named for the prelate's see at Monreale in Sicily, though not all authorities agree on the reason. Old Montreal Preserves Its Past When Montreal's rebuilding fever set in, today's old section jumbled together narrow streets, ancient build ings, dilapidated warehouses, and run-down stores. Now smart boutiques and fashionable restaurants do business in quarters renovated to preserve the charm of the past. People move back to live in refurbished places hoary with history. Here you can see the house where John Jacob Astor stored pelts when his fur-trade empire was blossoming in the early 1800's. A block or so away stands Chateau de Ramezay, built in 1705; its illustrious residents in cluded Benjamin Franklin and Gens. Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery. Continental troops had cap tured Montreal in 1775, and Revolutionary leaders tried unsuccessfully to have French Canada join the Colonies in tossing off the British yoke. The quarter's oldest building, a Sulpician seminary dating from 1685 and still occupied by Sulpician priests, squats next to towering Notre Dame Church, with its inspiringly beautiful interior (pages 618-19). A stone's throw away, old Bonsecours Market gets new use as a City Hall annex through a $3,000,000 renovation that restored its 1845 glory. Much of Montreal's Old Quarter has been designated a historic area. Strict rules govern preservation of its buildings-not as museum pieces but as a useful, living heritage from the past. I felt those bygone days reawakening when I strolled a flagstoned walk past an antique shop that once had been a spice importer's office, sauntered narrow streets 614 Young imaginations wielding paint brushes dress up a construction site. Fittingly, the fence hides work on two new theaters at the Place des Arts, the city's new cultural center.