Monday, May 22, 2017
Joyeux anniversaire, Montréal!
Partying like it hasn't been anything close to 375 years, the city of Montreal put on a memorable festival that I got to be part of, after all. When I saw fellow genea-blogger Gail Dever's post at Genealogy à la Carte last week on the events planned for the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, it seemed as if all the hoopla would be over before our family could even get to the city.
As it turned out, our bus from the airport arrived downtown Saturday afternoon just in time for the city's parade to delay by over an hour—then abort—the route to our hotel. Thanks to that unexpected turn of events, the three of us found ourselves trudging along, suitcases in hand, for ten blocks—and miles behind the featured guests of the city—until we made it to our destination.
Even then, we didn't truly miss the scene. With our internal clocks still on California time, we were awakened at what to us seemed like 6:30 the next morning by windowsill-vibrating music from the live band passing in front of our hotel. In a move that couldn't have turned out more precisely if we had planned for it, the parade route—which differed from the twin routes snarling traffic the previous afternoon—brought "the giAnts" passing by, seven stories below our own window.
From that vantage point, we were afforded a birds-eye view of a "Petite Géante" and her dog, followed by her "uncle," a deep sea diver in town for the city's anniversary celebration. The three, up to thirty-plus feet tall marionettes operated by lilliputian humans heaving ropes on pulleys, were the brainchild of French street performance troupe, Royal de Luxe, which have taken their creations on tours of 170 cities and now to their premiere in Canada with the Montreal celebration.
That's not what brought us to Montreal, of course—although getting here in time to take in that feature was a plus. My husband has been invited to speak at a conference being held here this week. While he is busy at work, I'll be touring the sights of the city with my daughter serving as my interpreter in the rare instance in which this bilingual city might not respond in my native tongue.
We will take in the history—and, considering my daughter's presence, the archaeology—of this long-established French colony in the next few days. Though time prevents me from my original plan—I had hoped to travel from Quebec to neighboring province Ontario to do some research on our Tully ancestors who arrived there much later in the mid-1800s—that genealogy-based mindset which helps me seek connections and roots in any given situation will stand me in good stead as we explore a city rich in historic context of its own.
Above: View from a cafe window during Montreal's 375th anniversary celebration; photograph courtesy Wren.