City Hall, finished in 1878 (and then burned to the ground in a 1922 fire and rebuilt), is relatively young by Vieux-Montréal standards, and it’s still in use, with the mayor’s office on the main floor. The French Second Empire design makes it look as though it was imported, stone by stone, from the mother country: Balconies, turrets, and mansard roofs decorate the exterior. The details are particularly visible when the exterior is illuminated at night. The Hall of Honour is made of green marble from Campan, France, and houses Art Deco lamps from Paris and a bronze-and-glass chandelier, also from France, that weighs a metric ton. It was from the balcony above the awning that, in 1967, an ill-mannered Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, proclaimed, “Vive le Québec Libre!” (“Long live free Québec!”)—a gesture that pleased his immediate audience, but strained relations with the Canadian government for years.
- Leslie Brokaw, Erin Trahan, Matthew Barber