Square Victoria

Victoria Square
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Square Victoria is a public square in the so-called Quartier international, a high-rise neighborhood in Montreal's business district. The highlight of the square is an authentic Art Nouveau metro entrance from around 1900.

History

Hay Market

Square Victoria
The square was created in 1811 right outside the then just demolished defensive wall around Montreal. It was originally named 'Place des Commissaires' in honor of those responsible for demolishing the wall.

After a hay market opened here in 1813 the square became known as the 'Place du Marché-à-Foin' (Hay Market Square). In 1860, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Victoria Jubilee Bridge by the Prince of Wales, the square was named in honor of Queen Victoria. In 1872 a statue of the queen was unveiled here.

Victorian Age Heyday

By then the hay market had long moved out and the square was redeveloped into a public garden with parterres and a central basin. At the time the area was at the heart of an upscale neighborhood and the garden was enclosed by grand Second Empire buildings.

Downturn

Water jets on Square Victoria
Water jets
The low point of the square was in the 1950s when it was partially used as a parking lot. Meanwhile the area was being transformed into a business district, culminating in the construction of the Tour de la Bourse, a 47-story tower built in 1964 on the south side of Square Victoria. The iconic metro station entrance, a present from Paris, was installed here in 1967.

Redevelopment

In the early 2000s a redevelopment plan was launched to rejuvenate the square and the surrounding area. Encroaching streets were reconfigured so that the square could obtain its late nineteenth-century shape again. The statue of Queen Elisabeth and the metro entrance were thoroughly restored and modern fountains and benches were installed. New trees were also planted.

The Square Today

Monument to Queen Victoria on Square Victoria
Monument to
Queen Victoria
The Rue Saint-Antoine divides the square into two halves. The south-east part, which features the statue of Queen Victoria, is planted with dense rows of trees. The other half is more open and features basins with water jets, lots of pavement, lawns, and, at its center, the Art Nouveau metro entrance. The square is surrounded by modern office towers and in summertime you can seen many office workers spend their lunch break on one of the many benches.

Sights

Square Victoria is a pretty low-key square but it nonetheless features some interesting sights.

Metro Entrance

Metro entrance on Square Victoria
Art Nouveau entrance

QQueen Victoria statue on Square Victoria
Queen Victoria
Right below the square is a metro station that serves the orange line. The Saint-Antoine entrance to the station, on the north side of Victoria Square, is an authentic Art Nouveau entrance from the Paris Metro. It was created around the year 1900 by Hector Guimard and was a 1966 gift from the RATP (the transport authority of Paris) to Montreal to celebrate the collaboration of French and Canadian engineers on the construction of the Montreal metro.

To this day it is still the only authentic Parisian Art Nouveau station outside Paris.

Queen Victoria

The bronze statue of Queen Victoria rises high above the namesake square. The statue, which stands on a tall pedestal, was the work of the English sculptor Marshall Wood.

It shows a young queen standing with a laurel wreath in her left hand. She wears a crown with Fleur-de-lis motifs, a reference to the French ancestry of British monarchs. The statue was unveiled on November 21, 1872 by Lord Dufferin, the governor-general of Canada.

Tai Chi Sculpture

Tai Chi Single Whip, Square Victoria
Tai Chi Single Whip
At its highest point Square Victoria is embellished with a modern sculpture entitled 'Tai Chi Single Whip'. It was created in 1985 by the Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming and depicts a person performing Tai Chi.

The sculpture was installed here in 2006 as part of a temporary exhibition that brought 19 of the sculptor's works to Montreal.

Subway
Square-Victoria (orange)
Location
Quartier international
5481
montreal
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