Your First Stop in Montreal with Kids: Pointe-a-Calliere

pointeacallierePointe-a-Calliere is a great first stop to make with kids to introduce them to the history of Montreal. It focuses on the early periods of Montreal’s history and shows how the city grew from an Iroquoian village to a missionary colony to the French empire in America to a world-class metropolitan city.  The museum offers a one-of-a-kind experience as it takes you and your children on a thrilling underground archaeological tour.
You start with a brilliant 18-minute 3-D multimedia show called Yours Truly, Montreal, that takes visitors to the heart of great Montreal moments in its history. The city is shown during early stages of development: the birth of Mount Royal, the arrival of the Amerindians, the founding of Montreal, French and British regimes, into where the city is now.  It’s a multi-media show projected on top of real archaeological remains.  It’s really gripping and will engage your kids with its images, sound and interesting presentation. 

After the film, head down to the museum’s archaeological remains, which enables visitors to take an underground archaeological tour. Five models set in the floor reveal how Place Royale evolved through the centuries and the exhibits include displays of artifacts found there, including dice, crockery, old combs and beer caps. Virtual historic figures also pop up to chat about their era. Even kids who hate museums won’t help but be intrigued and leave with a better understand of how this city has evolved over the centuries. You’ll also see Montreal’s first Catholic cemetery, which dates from 1643.  Your kids will enjoy the permanent exhibition, Montréal Love Stories, which focuses on contemporary Montreal and the people of all origins that call it home. The Museum also presents two national or international temporary exhibitions every year on historical or archaeological themes, as well as many cultural activities.

Summer hours are daily from 10am-6pm until Labor Day (when it changes closing time back to 5pm).  There are guided tours, lectures, interactive workshops, seasonal activities (Halloween and Christmas) and interactive games.  This summer there are many special events to be aware of that your kids will love:

Family Exploration Tour: Children from 7 to 12 years old are invited to discover the Museum in a whole new way! They must help Romeo, the nosy, storytelling rat, find selected objects among the Museum’s archaeological remains.  (August 1st-31st)

Montreal’s “Fete des enfants”: Two special activities are offered at Pointe-a’-Callière as part of Montreal’s “Fête des enfants”. On this occasion, family will benefit from a special admission price: instead of paying a family price of $30 they will pay $20. (August 13th-14th)

18th Century Public Market: Over the course of a weekend, take a trip back in time to find yourself in the company of farmers, craftspeople, and entertainers as they existed in 1750, at the time of Montréal’s very first public marketplace. A not-to-be-missed event in Old Montréal, Pointe-à-Callière’s 18th Century Public Market is a unique experience, a festive marketplace that retains its agricultural role while offering an array of historical activities and presentations in an atmosphere unique to New France. (August 27th-28th)

Budding Archaeologists: As part of Pointe-à-Callière’s 18th-century Public Market, the Budding Archaeologists activity, intended for younger children, offers a unique opportunity to learn a little more about the archaeology profession. In the Museum’s discovery space, children take part in a simulated archaeological dig led by an archaeologist interpreter-guide. Their mission is to unearth remains linked to different periods of Montréal’s past. (August 27th-28th)

For more information about admission and upcoming events at Pointe-a-Calliere, visit the museum’s web site.

Disclosure: I was given complimentary admission to this museum to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own.  My trip was sponsored by Tourisme Montréal.  This post originally ran on TravelingMom.com.