Montréal Capital City: June 23 to October 9, 2023 – An exhibition that tells the exceptional story of the archaeological site of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada


Montréal Capital City @ Pointe-à-Callière

Archaeology and history complex
Archaeology and history complex

MONTREAL, June 22, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Opening tomorrow and running until October 9, 2023, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex, is presenting Montréal Capital City, a temporary off-site exhibition held in Old Fire Station No. 1. Examining the rich history of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada, Montréal Capital City features close to 280 selected objects and reconstructed pieces from among the 350,000 artifacts found during archaeological digs on Place D’Youville. The artifact restoration work that Pointe-à-Callière has been carrying out since 2017 has allowed for the creation of an important reference collection on the first half of 19th century Montréal. This temporary exhibition offers a unique opportunity to explore a little-known yet key period in the city’s history, at a time when it was the capital of the Province of Canada!

“We are honoured and proud this summer to present the exhibition Montréal Capital City, which will give visitors an opportunity to better understand Montréal, an effervescent city that established itself as a metropolis in the 19th century, and that was witness to the first decisive steps of a fledgling democracy. The collection displayed to the public this summer is an invaluable witness of the exceptionally rich archaeological site of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada.” – Anne Élisabeth Thibault, Executive Director, Pointe-à-Callière

“The safeguarding and development of this heritage are a duty of remembrance of the men and women who came before us and an invaluable legacy for generations to come.” – Louise Pothier, Curator and Chief Archaeologist, Pointe-à-Callière

A key period for the advancement of democracy in the country!

In 1844, the most beautiful and imposing civil building in Montréal at the time—St. Anne’s Market—was transformed into the Parliament. This was where politicians like George-Étienne Cartier, Robert Baldwin, and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine came together to debate and adopt laws that would leave an indelible imprint on the history of Canada, Québec, and Montréal.

It was at that time that the principle of responsible government was fully recognized, and that French was recognized as an official language in the Parliament, on August 14, 1848, 175 years ago this year.

The dig campaigns

From 2010 to 2017, Pointe-à-Callière carried out three major archaeological digs on the classified heritage site of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada. In 2013, close to 100,000 archaeological pieces and animal bones (butcher shop remains)—in a state of preservation largely exceeding expectations—were taken out of the ground.

In 2017, through the support of the City of Montréal, the Museum was able to open its largest dig site to the public: 22,000 people had the opportunity to see the archaeologists at work and take guided tours of the site. Over 350,000 artifacts were unearthed, including an unexpected discovery: the charred remains of 70 piles of books from the two richly stocked parliamentary libraries, which were burned in 1849. This archaeological site is one of the largest in Old Montréal.

Since 2017, Pointe-à-Callière’s team of archaeologists has been continuing its analyses and working on reconstruction hypotheses based on archaeological and documentary data. New research is being carried out on the entirety of the collection, leading to scientific articles. The collection has already become a benchmark for understanding Montréal in the first half of the 19th century, at the time when it was the capital. The research continues…

3D Modelling: the use of digital technology in archaeology

With the collaboration of artist and architect Guy Lessard and historian Alan Stewart, the Museum’s team is working on the 3D reconstruction of the market and its transformation into the parliament, revealing its interior layout. This modelling is based on archaeological findings and an exhaustive study of archival documents and ancient iconography, which allows us to fill in gaps left by the passage of time.

3D artist Guy Lessard is using the software UNREAL to create captivating renderings, with minute details, atmospheres, textures, and characters. Through this reconstruction of the market stalls, the exterior and interior of the Parliament, the Council Room, the Legislative Assembly, and the remarkable library, we are transported into these various environments as though we were there when the building was still standing!

Book: Montréal, Capital City

Who remembers it today? And yet… from 1844 to 1849, Montréal was indeed the capital of the Province of Canada. Relive a little-known period of history in the surprising, exciting, and previously unpublished account laid out in this book. Montréal, Capital City: a beautifully illustrated coffee-table book edited by Louise Pothier, Curator and Chief Archaeologist at Pointe-à-Callière, with contributions from 22 archaeologists and historians.

The book received an honourable mention at the Canadian Museums Association’s Awards of Excellence, in the “Research” category, in April 2023.

Montréal, Capital City — The Remarkable History of the Archaeological Site of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada. Éditions de l’Homme. December 2021. 240 pages. Available in bookstores throughout Québec.

Complementary Activity: A Parliament Under Your Feet

In visiting the off-site exhibition A Parliament Under Your Feet, you will be walking directly above the remains of St. Anne’s Market and the Parliament of the Province of Canada! At seven stations, you will discover the important role this building played in Montreal and Canadian life in the mid-19th century. From a place of commerce and civic gathering, it became a platform of power where key decisions were made to advance democracy in Canada. A mobile application is available with further information on the content of this outdoor exhibition.

A Parliament Under Your Feet. Free outdoor exhibition on Place D’Youville (near McGill Street) until October 31, 2023.

Web series: Treasures Beneath the City

Join Pointe-à-Callière archaeologists Hendrik Van Gijseghem and François Gignac as they follow the traces of history in this captivating web series that reveals the secrets of a major archaeological site in Old Montréal!

Treasures Beneath the City. Pointe-à-Callière. 6 episodes. 2022.

About Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex

Inaugurated in 1992, on the city’s 350th anniversary, Pointe-à-Callière is today the largest archaeology museum in Canada and the busiest history museum in Montréal. Rising above a concentrated number of historic and archaeological sites of national significance—including the birthplace of Montréal—, the Museum has a mission to preserve its collections and to further knowledge, while showcasing and fostering an appreciation for Montréal’s archaeological and historical heritage. This mission is carried out through various activities focused on conservation, research, presentation, education, and inclusion, along with community initiatives benefiting both Montrealers and visitors to the city. Pointe-à-Callière, proud partner of the City of Montréal.


Katia Bouchard, Director, Communications and Marketing
T: 514 872-9124 / [email protected]

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