A 2020 Montréal time capsule

Quartier des spectacles - Place des Festivals | Luminothérapie - Spectrum
Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

2020 may have unfolded under the shadow of Covid-19 health precautions and social distancing, but there’s still countless #MTLMOMENTS from the past 12 months to remember for a lifetime. To commemorate the year that’s been both for those of us who lived it and for future generations 100 years from now, we present this 2020 Montréal Time Capsule. 

Old Port of Montréal | Natrel Fire on Ice

A firework 🎆

Every New Year’s Eve, the skies over Montréal are lit by a world-class fireworks display, marking the year that’s passed and the one yet to come. Our time capsule wouldn’t be complete without at least one! 

Beaver Lake - Mount Royal Park

A skate, a snowball and a sled ⛸

It takes more than a little winter weather and snow to keep Montréalers indoors. Instead, every park’s frozen pond becomes a skating rink, every hill a sledding slope and every open field a snowball fight battleground. We’ll need one of each.  

Crémy Pâtisserie

Poutine, pastries and bagels, oh my! 🥯

Nothing goes down better than a warm, cheesy poutine, or bagels fresh out of the woodstove followed by a perfect pastry from one of Montréal’s mouth-watering patisseries. We meant to put examples of all three in our time capsule, but they may have gotten eaten in the process. Can you blame us? 

Jacques-Cartier Bridge


As the city closed its doors and put a pause on public life, the windows of the city were festooned with painted rainbows and the simple message, Ça va bien aller! (“It’s going to be fine!”). Alongside a few of these homemade signs, we’ll also include examples of the face masks local designers made fashionable

Mount Royal Park - Kondiaronk lookout

Pretty as a postcard 🏞

2020 was a year spent outdoors, taking in the one-of-a-kind vistas of the city and appreciating Montréal’s glorious views from the top of Mount Royal and across the St. Lawrence River. While they can never do it full justice, we’ll put in a stack of postcards of just a few of Montréal’s natural wonders. 

A whale of a year! 🐋

For a couple of weeks in late spring, Montréal gathered on the banks of the St. Lawrence River to catch a glimpse of a humpback whale that made the city its erstwhile home. The reminder of the balance between man and nature made for one of 2020’s most moving and awe-inspiring chapters. 

Canada's Drag Race

A bejewelled high heel and a sky-high wig 💅

2020 also marked the first season of Canada’s Drag Race, our version of the incredibly popular Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Montréal is home to two of the season’s fiercest competitors, and we’ve asked Rita Baga for one of her iconic wigs and Kiara for a stiletto. Werq! 

Quartier Latin - Cabaret ambulant relancez l’été sur Saint-Denis

A stage on wheels 🎤

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we couldn’t all gather inside to enjoy live music, so instead the Cabaret ambulant took the stage outside … on wheels! Transforming the city streets into a cabaret in motion, some of Montréal’s musical talent played their hearts out proving that it takes more than a pandemic to put a stop to live music. Let’s add one of the Cabaret ambulant’s microphones to the capsule.  

Sainte-Catherine Street East - Montréal Street Dancers

Dancing in the streets 💃

The city streets came alive this summer with countless live performances and entertainers ranging from dancers and acrobats to contortionists and marching bands. To commemorate a few of our favourites, our time capsule includes a hula hoop, a trumpet and a giant eyeball mask as worn by Les Belles Bêtes

Chinatown - Shā Tān public space

Installation city 🐩

To keep locals entertained, the Quartier des Spectacles became a hotspot of installation pieces and public art, ranging from a sound collage by local musician Patrick Watson, dog sculptures in every colour of the rainbow and the Sha Tan Chinatown Terrace by Chinatown’s emblematic gates. We’ll toss in a lantern, one of the dog statues and an .mp3 player with Watson’s soundscapes for listeners of the future to enjoy. 

Mount Royal Park - Beaver Lake

The colours of autumn 🍂

Montréal is a beauty all year round, but she never looks quite so magical as in Autumn when the leaves turn red, orange and gold. To mark another spectacularly photographic year, a small bag of dried leaves surely deserves its place in the box. 

Quartier des spectacles - Place des Festivals | Luminothérapie - Nouvelle Lune

Books by starlight 📚

This year, Old Montréal glows with holiday lighting installations not only celebrating the season, but also everyone’s resilience over the course of the past 12 months. Light up your Instagram with the towering stars on Place d’Armes, and wait for the likes to roll in. And cap off a starry night with a walk over to Place des Festivals for the 2020 edition of Luminotherapie, a redux of the iconic LOOP, this year paying tribute to some bright stars of Québec literature like Innu poet Joséphine Bacon, Haitian-Canadian novelist Dany Laferrière and playwright Wajdi Mouawad. We’re putting their latest books in the capsule, but we’re going to need everyone’s help to make one of those stars fit. Altogether now … push! 

Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

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