Travel Blog

6 May

Getting festive with Canada’s Armed Forces

Since the time of its founding, Montréal – in large part because of its unique geographical location within Canada, its port to the ocean and its close proximity the U.S. – has played a unique role in the military history of Québec and Canada. It’s still true today. On the occasion of Montréal’s 375th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force have come together to create an exciting program to celebrate its unique military heritage. Titled “Your Canadian Armed Forces, At the Heart of History,” the festivities – presented by members of the 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force (East) – take place May 12-20 in the Old Port of Montréal.

HMCS Montréal, a Halifax-class frigate which has been deployed on anti-terrorism missions in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, as well as several NATO missions, will provide a fascinating few hours for anyone interested in these powerful protectors. She’ll be welcoming visitors for nearly a week down at the Clock Tower dock in the Old Port, rolling out the gangplank May 13-15 and 17 (9 am to 12 pm) and May 12, 19 and 20 (9 am to 4 pm).

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A one-of-a-kind military music concert, titled “Hommage à Montréal,” will celebrate the city’s vibrant music culture and diversity. Special guests include jazz pianist Julie Lamontagne and the inimitable Black Watch Pipes Drums from The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), whose downtown armoury home provides an interesting historical/architectural counterpoint to the adjacent Quartier des Spectacles. At the Clock Tower dock May 13, 12:30 pm.

Canada’s much-beloved Air Force air demonstration team, the Snowbirds, will put on one of their signature high-flying, death-defying and breathtaking shows over the Old Port. It’s all part of a military air show – the largest air show ever hosted in Montréal – that will also include appearances by the Canadian Forces Parachute Team (the SkyHawks), CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft and the 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron teams. It all goes up May 13 and 14 starting at 2 pm, and will also be broadcast live on Facebook here.

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In celebration of the proud military history of the city, several Armed Forces units will rendezvous at Montréal City Hall for a ceremony with the mayor on May 14 starting at 11 am. Situated at the heart of a network of waterways, the city’s ideal location has facilitated the transport of troops, resupply and military logistics operations since the 17th century. Its Montréal Garrison base is the home of the 2nd Canadian Division Headquarters, responsible for all members of the Canadian Army based in Québec. Following the ceremony, a parade will take the soldiers to Place Saint-Laurent in the Old Port for a display of their military equipment and vehicles. Soldiers will be on hand to take questions.


On the morning of May 17, get ready for a large military parade starting at City Hall and rumbling its way over to the crown jewel of Montréal churches, Notre-Dame Basilica. The parade will take place in the morning to the sound of a hundred church bells after high mass. It will conclude with a ceremony held at Place d’Armes (the site of various military events in the 1700s) with the laying of a wreath of flowers and a military bonfire.

Watch the Snowbirds bedazzle spectators with amazing aerial skill over the Old Port

Listen to The Black Watch pipers practice outside the armoury on Bleury Street

Salute a soldier in front of Montréal City Hall

Stare down the barrel of a Bofors Mk3 57mm main gun on the HMCS Montréal

Stroll through Old Montréal, imagining soldiers of centuries past marching on its cobblestone streets

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