In the 1860s, cutting of trees on the mountain for firewood outraged many people living near the mountain and led to the area’s expropriation by the City of Montreal in 1869. In 1874, the City contracted Frederick Law Olmstead, a famous landscape architect, best known for the design of New York City’s Central Park, to design and develop the four-hundred thirty acres of land, which would be designated as Mount Royal park in 1876.
In 1906 the City of Montreal commissioned architects Edward and William Sutherland Maxwell to build an observation terrace. In collaboration with the firm of Marchand & Haskell they constructed three magnificent Beaux-Arts style pavilions linked by covered passages, right on the edge of the cliff, and a lookout consisting of a large circular terrace with a balustrade, the highest spot in the city (234m), offering spectator views of Montreal, and the Saint Lawrence river, and beyond.
The site became a popular attraction and the three pavilions soon became too small. At the beginning of the 1930s, the City decided to replace them with a new spacious heated building. The construction of the Chalet was one of the large make-work projects initiated by Montreal Mayor Camillien Houde to reduce the unemployment caused by the Great Depression.
In 1931-1932, the Chalet was built by architect Aristide Beaugrand-Champagne in the French Beaux-Arts style. Unlike the Maxwell pavilions, he wanted the Chalet to be located well back from the lookout. The stone building has a 50-metre wide facade with large windows and elegant doors.The interior features large paintings that highlight the history of Montreal, created by thirteen Canadian artists. Carved wooden squirrels decorate the exposed beams. The terrace of the Chalet was completely restored in 1992, and renamed the Belvédère Kondiaronk, named for the Huron chief who signed the Peace Treaty with the French regime in 1701.
The Chalet was renovated in 2001-2002, and has a souvenir shop, vending machines, a seating area, and can host various events with room for 300 to 700 people.
The Mount Royal Chalet is located at 1196 Camillien-Houde Road in Montréal
Source: McGill / Les amis de la montagne / Montreal.com
By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca