Glitter and gold: Montréal’s Golden Square Mile
Montréal is a city of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique flair and character. Based at the foot of Mount Royal, outlined by Sainte-Catherine Street, University Street, Pine Street and Guy Street, the Golden Square Mile is a sparkling diamond of architecture and history in the city centre whose close proximity to the Palais des congrès de Montréal makes it perfect for some event downtime wandering. Growing from quiet “away from downtown” beginnings in the 18th century, by the turn of the 20th it’s estimated that up to 80% of Canada’s wealth was concentrated within the square mile’s borders – and that grandeur and opulence still shows.
Art and architecture
The Golden Square Mile also earns another of its nicknames as the Museum Quarter, as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, McCord Museum and Redpath Museum (which are available for meetings and executive retreats) are all based here. Each museum has its specialty, from big name exhibitions to natural history and local fashion – not to mention each standing the test of time as an architectural wonder.
Built predominantly in the Victorian era, the Golden Square Mile’s blend of Romanesque, Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic and a seasoning of Art Nouveau styles dot the side streets up the slope of the mountain. Don’t miss the Birks mansion (now a jewellery shop and boutique hotel that’s dressed to impress) and Thomson House, and that towering cluster of buildings on the mountainside isn’t Hogwarts – it’s the storied campus of McGill University.
Learning and earning
Two of Montréal’s major centres of learning call the area home – and both McGill and Concordia University offer meeting spaces that easily show off why Montréal is ranked as the best city for students in North America. And these campuses aren’t shunted off in the outskirts of the city, but rather take their proud place in one of the hearts of business for all of Canada. Outside of the Centre Mont-Royal conference centre on Mansfield Street, students and visiting professionals mix and mingle.
A touch of class (and a dash of sass)
Gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels line Sherbrooke Street, many of whom offer eye-popping rooms perfect for events with a touch of opulence. Alongside the grand dame Ritz-Carlton Montréal, there’s options ranging from the Sofitel Montréal Golden Mile, Loews Hôtel Vogue, Hotel Omni Mont-Royal, Delta Hotels Montréal and Le Mount Stephen that will keep your attendees feeling like VIPs. And once they’re hungry, their tastebuds won’t soon forget a night out at Maison Boulud, followed by some after dinner cocktails at the legendary Thursday’s Montréal.
Fashion-wise, area locals truly turn it out, and you’ll see them emerging from the area’s luxury boutiques with shopping bags in hand. Big names like Tiffany’s, Escada, Swarovski and Holt Renfrew all hold court in the Golden Square Mile, and those looking for something original to take home won’t need to look further than the the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’ M Boutique. Just beyond the neighbourhood’s borders, there’s La Maison Ogilvy and Montréal’s famous RÉSO Underground City stuffed with shopping choices.
Head for higher ground
Despite all the man-made masterworks in the area, the biggest gem of them all is Mount Royal whose lush greenery towers over the neighbourhood and keeps the air fresh and cool. Climbing its peaks is one of the ultimate Montréal experiences, and it can be achieved in less time than you think – it’s possible to reach the Chalet lookout point and back from the Palais des congrès in less than two hours while also taking in some of the Golden Square Mile’s most famous sights en route.
Archival photo of Henry Morgan's Store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, QC, about 1890
By Wm. Notman & Son © McCord Museum
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