Montréal History Festival brings past to life

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on May 3, 2022.

The second edition of the Montréal History Festival (Festival d’histoire de Montréal) presents more than 40 thematic activities for all ages, presented by 14 Montréal history museums.

Past is present

Inspired by the Rendez-vous de l’histoire in Blois, France, the Montréal History Festival – a.k.a. the Festival d’histoire de Montréal – also offers a rendezvous with history that will stimulate imaginations so festivalgoers can dive into the fascinating worlds of the past. 

Organized by the Regroupement des Musées d'histoire de Montréal, the idea for the Montréal History Festival was first hatched in 2014. The plan was to lay the foundation for an annual history festival that would inspire Montrealers and visitors of all ages and backgrounds to learn history in a fresh new way.

The second edition of Montréal History Festival runs from May 13 to 15, 2022.

Off the beaten path

The festival presents more than 40 thematic activities for all ages, many of them free. The activities are grouped into 12 different themes: Walking the History, History through Podcasts offers three different podcasts; Making History, Telling the Story of History, Playing with History explores history through games and comedy; Setting the Historical Scene looks at period costumes; Witnessing History, Singing and Dancing History has workshops and concerts; Tasting History is an invitation to discover different foods and cuisines; and finally, there’s Communicating History, Seeing History and Touching History.

Here are some choice programming highlights:



Crime in New France – the Point under investigation

Investigate the circumstances surrounding a theft on a farm of the Point, today La Maison Saint-Gabriel. Can you solve this crime from October 1671? This French-language online game is presented by La Maison Saint-Gabriel.


The Beautiful Neighbours

The Beautiful Neighbours exhibition celebrates two neighbouring heritage buildings, the Bonsecours Market and the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel in Old Montréal. Presented in the Bonsecours Market Hall. No reservation required.



Discovering the history of Île Sainte-Hélène

Presented by the McCord Museum, this free online lecture explores the history Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame beyond the lasting memories of Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympic Games. Over the course of the talk, archive curator Mathieu Lapointe will highlight some of the exceptional moments in the human experience on the islands.


Listening to early Canadian music

Listen to early Canadian music produced by the Compo Company in Lachine, Canada’s first independent recording enterprise. The music will be played on historic Gramophones and old turntables at the Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner.  First come first served, maximum 15 people per presentation.


Traditional ghost walk

Discover ghosts and unexplained phenomena in the streets and alleyways of Old Montréal, and unveil the dark past of Old Montréal during the grim times of New France. This ticketed activity is presented by Guidatour and recommended for people aged 10 and up.



Golden Square Mile: walk through history

Learn about the heritage homes of the Golden Square Mile that were once the property of the city’s elite and hear stories about the neighbourhood’s leading figures and lesser-known residents in this new guided tour by the McCord Museum in collaboration with the McGill University School of Continuing Studies.


Investigating the enigmas of the Patriots of Saint-Eustache’s flag

Historian André Sarrazin has spent over two years researching this famous flag’s history. Reservations required for this French-only conference. Free admission.


Blacksmithing at the forge and pottery-making demonstration

At the Musée de Lachine, discover the tools and skills needed to preserve and prepare food at blacksmith Robert Bourgeois’ new presentation Blacksmithing at the Forge, as potter Hugo Péloquin demonstrates techniques used to make pottery in the days of New France. No reservation required. Free admission.



Mount Royal Park: from wilderness to playground with Rod MacLeod

Explore Montréal’s signature mountain park designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted on a free, two-hour tour with Montréal historian Rod MacLeod. The tour of Mount Royal includes a visit to the Kondiaronk Belvedere, the Chalet with its Olmsted monument, the historic Smith House and Beaver Lake. Presented by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network in English, with bilingual Q&A.


Assassin’s Creed: Historians opinion the Game and its relations to History

Explore the Assassin’s Creed series of video games and their relationship to history in this ticketed French-language conference presented by Marc-André Éthier (Université de Montréal) and David Lefrançois (UQO). 


Controlling desires: sex and censorship at the Collège de Montréal (1773-1837)

Explore how the Sulpicians played an important role in the education of young Montrealers at the French-language classical school for boys, the Collège Saint-Raphaël, in the late 18th century. This free 70-minute online conference is presented by Shawn McCutcheon (Ph.D. History, McGill), a member of the Montréal History Group (MHG), whose research interests include gender, sexuality, social control and marginality between the 18th and 19th centuries.


Understanding the History of Montréal in 12 Key Dates

Discover 400 years of Jewish history in Montréal in this 80-minute French-language presentation by University of Ottawa Professor Pierre Anctil at the Côte-des-Neiges Intercultural Library. 


Montréal’s Africa

A community roundtable discussion at the Afromusée to help map businesses, associations, social venues and places of worship that represent the historical and current presence of Africa and its diasporas in Montréal.  The museum’s team will add participants’ suggestions to the map. No reservation required.


The Festival d’histoire de Montréal runs from May 13 to 15, 2022.


Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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