Rocket Man

Saturday, June 19, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Day 50:  Montreal, QC to Ottawa, ON.  Our day in Montreal began with two goals to accomplish before we left the city—find a letterbox and plant a letterbox. Having suffered through weekday traffic in the city, this morning's empty streets were refreshing.

After investigating (and rejecting) the Montreal Forum, a former hockey arena, as a possible place to plant a letterbox, we drove to Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal), the historic district between the St. Lawrence River and downtown Montreal.  (pictured above)
Cobblestone streets made for a very bumpy ride, so we quickly found a place to park and set out on foot to seek a letterbox near the river. Having found the box, we wandered around the historic district, enjoying window shopping at the many galleries, boutiques, and souvenir shops.
Bonsecours Market
In the heart of the district, we found Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market), built in 1847 as a public market and recognized as a Canadian heritage building.  The Québec Crafts Council has its headquarters here, and the Marché houses 15 boutiques featuring a myriad of “made in Québec” creations: crafts, fashions, accessories, jewelry, and more.
Bonsecours boutique
Looking for a place for lunch before leaving Old Montreal, we stumbled upon Forget Cafe and Bistro in the basement of Bonsecours Market. We were lured by the kindness and charm of the maitre d' who stood at the sidewalk entrance dispensing parking advice, tourist information, and general good will. Our lunches were simple but delicious and attractively presented, not easy to forget.  And by the way, we learned that Forget (Fer-ZHAY) is the family name of the bistro's owners.
The friendly host at Forget Bistro
We still needed a place to plant our letterbox.  The stamp for the box was the logo of the Montreal hockey team, always exciting to watch when we followed the Atlanta Flames.  In fact, we watched Montreal win the Stanley Cup championship (for the 18th time) on our wedding night.  Inspired by letterboxes honoring baseball greats that we found in New York last month, Ken suggested we plant the box near the grave of Montreal's most beloved hockey player, Maurice "Rocket" Richard.
Tribute to the Rocket
Thanks to the power of the internet, we were able to locate the cemetery and Richard's impressive memorial.  Nearby was the perfect tree to shelter what became our tribute to the first hockey player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season.  We called the box "Remembering the Rocket."
A stunning sculpture and a poignant memorial
In the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, we saw many beautiful sculptures, none more moving than an extraordinary weeping angel.  The original Angel of Grief was sculpted in 1894 by William Wetmore Story to serve as the grave stone for his wife and himself in Rome.  Many copies and replicas have been inspired by the elegance and majesty of his work.

Having achieved our Montreal goals, we headed off to Ottawa for an overnight and a day in Canada's capitol city.

  • Miles driven:  149
  • Letterboxes:  1 F, 1 P
  • High temp:  86° F
  • Art galleries:  143
  • Boutiques:  189
  • Souvenir shops:  98
  • Sidewalk cafes:  241
  • Gravestones:  43,916