Red Shield Hostel, University Street, Montreal, P. Q.
August 15, 1943
It's now 9.50 p.m. and I'm in the Red Shield Hostel. I'm just about tuckered out, for I've done nothing but go since I landed in Montreal yesterday (Sat.) at 2:30.
I got a 36, and so Stewart Phillips and I went on a bus tour through Lachine, and later a tramcar ride at Montreal West.
The first place we headed for was the Y, but they couldn't really accomodate us - too expensive, so we came to this Hostel, and got our supper, our room, and our three meals today, all for $ 1.80 . Suppers and dinner .35 each, breakfast .25 and room .50, so we'll always head for this place when we're on leave. We had a taste of S.A. while we were in Moncton, and now we know what it's really like - great meals and soft beds.
Well, I might as well continue this letter by making it a description of our short but impressive visit.
We had a map of this metropolis, and so we situated ourselves when we got on St. Catherines St, and started to walk towards McGill University, Once there we toured the grounds- quite a wonderful place. Later we walked along the side of Mount Royale and at the junction of Cedar and Cote des Neiges Sts., as we had stopped and were wondering whether to catch a tram or not, a gentleman, in a swell car, asked us if we were going up Cote des Neiges, so we hopped in. He started talking to us, and the first thing I noted about him was that he looked like Mr. Johnston, our bank of Nova Scotia manager from Glace Bay. We told him we were on our way to the Wax Works but he passed there, and said that a little further on was St. Joseph's Oratory, and so he took us there. ( you'll see what an immense and beautiful place it is by the enclosed photos.) You may remember reading and hearing that it is here that the " lame, halt, and blind" go to be cured through believing. We want up the stairs and into this really wonderful shrine, and believe me it quite something to look out over the park and to see the beauty of the whole area.
Then we went across the street to the Wax Museum. Well, boy, there's a place to go to. It's has mostly a religious theme, and it's wonderful how you can actually believe that the images will move to one side, or blink their eyes. A guide takes you through the building and explains everything to you. The most striking scene is that of Jacques Cartier and the Indians, but the most life-like is St. Joseph, whose heart is on display in the Oratory. The most beautiful scene is that of the Pope, which cost $5000 to build.
The colours are marvelous, while the scenes in the catacombs are dull, with very little light, so they give a realistic impression of what it must have actually been like at that time. The scene where the lion is attacking the woman in the Roman Collesium is really horrible. Her eyes and hands really express the terror she is experiencing. If you were here you'd get a kick out of the way the Indians look at Cartier. I could say tons about this place but---- .
So we got on the tram again, and I must say that here you can ride all over the city for seven cents, by transferring from one tram to another, and, believe me there are lots of them- one every minute or so. We went back to the Sally Anne for supper, and later caught a tram to Bellmont Amusement Park. We started by taking a ride on the aeroplane machine, and then got the scare of my life on the Scenic Railway. Then we went on to other rides, such as boats on real water, and realistic race cars, and the House of Mirrors. When I checked my cash, I found I was getting low, so we returned to the S.A. for the evening for a good night's sleep.
At 11 a.m. we went to Christ Church Cathedral, a wonderful old Anglican building, somewhat like St, Anne's in size, but not modem at all, with granite and concrete inside, and soft seats and kneeling benches. The minister preached a very good sermon.
After dinner we went to Chateau de Ramsay, a museum containing relics of earlier times of life around Montreal- a wonderful place- much more interesting than Louisbourg. The Chateau had all sorts of relics and furniture from old homes. Best of all was the Indian Room with real birch bark canoes, beaded chiefs costumes, and papoose holders. I hope to return there, and get some information to send to you, at a later date.
Then we caught a number of trams and rode up to the summit of Mount Royal, from which you can look out over the city of Montreal. It's quite an impressive sight. You know what Sydney looks like from Hardwood Hill. Well, multiply that view by I don't know how much, and you'll get some idea of how impressive it is.
Then we went over to the Sun Life building, but due to wartime restrictions we couldn't go to the top, but we did get into the radio station C H L P, right in where they were broadcasting over the air.
After supper at the S, A. , we went to another radio station, C B C B, and saw, as well as heard His Majesties Grenadier Guards play their Sunday night concert from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
Since night was coming on, we went along St, Catherine St. and into a restaurant for a "coke", and finally came back here to write this letter.
Well, I'm flat broke, but I had a wonderful weekend. I'm dead tired, and there'll be marching tomorrow.
This letter may take some time to reach you, but please save it, so that I will have it when I get back home.
I could write loads about this place with it's partially cobbled streets, horse-drawn hansoms, tall buildings, etc., etc., but so much for now.