Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh Mon Dieu, Zut Alors - Ou Est la Croix du Mont-Royal?!

At the tippy top of Montreal’s Mount Royal, there’s supposed to be a massive cross, quite possibly impressive enough to temporarily wipe the sneer off the most diehard non-believer’s face. I hazily recall marching up toward it when I was eight or nine years old, and I wanted to recreate that trek when I was back in town, as an adult, this past weekend.

Never did. Just walked around in circles for 90 minutes, following signs (about the cross always being a mere .8 km or 1.3 km away) that led to nowhere. I know it’s still there, because I saw it from the car, while driving around another part of the city.

The smug and dismissive security guards or park rangers, or whatever it’s politically correct to call them, vaguely pointed in the cross’s general direction. I was getting more riled up by the second. I told them that none of the signs and arrows made any sense.

“Ignore the signs and arrows,” they said. “They’re wrong.”

Wow, damn! Never heard that one before.

It felt like being in one of the dreams I sometimes get after having had a few too many glasses of red wine on an insufficiently full stomach. The hot pursuit of an illusion.

When I got back home last night, I called my dad and asked if he remembers approaching that cross on foot with the rest of our family in the late 1980s. He didn’t know what I was talking about. His chief memory of our time spent on that “mountain” is of getting pulled over and being ticketed after making an illegal left turn. And I didn’t know what he was talking about.


  1. Well...that contradicts my theory that the signs are your friend, always follow the signs. What is one to do from now on? Need to practice my French. What else did you do besides following the unfriendly signs?

  2. Could it be, as either you or Meredith intimated, that the cross can only be seen by true believers? Interesting idea produced by too many glasses of red wine?

    P.S. Thank you so much for the babka! It was delicious, even a few days later. I saved the last piece and took it to work with me this morning!

  3. Memory is the strangest thing. I was so struck that your father did not recall seeing the statue. But that ticket made an impact! It would have made an impact on me, too!

    I have a childhood memory that my older brother says never happened. When I was about 3 or 4, my family moved from Cincinnati to Indianapolis. It was a tough trip. Our "ancient" automobile kept running out of gas that we could ill-afford, and it kept rolling backward on slight hills. (Remember, the country did not have slick highways in the late 1940s.)My father and brother would get out and push the car on the dusty road while my mother steered. My brother remembers that aspect of the trip really well! But I do not remember that aspect of the trip at all. After all, at 3 or 4, I was napping or playing with my stuffed animal while everyone else was sweating it out. However...I do have a memory of standing on the rail of a fence watching a beautiful horse, tail streaming, running in a green field. It is my belief that that horse was the famous Man O'War, possibly the greatest racehorse that ever lived. I have this belief because I'm just sure that my father once told me that we had gone to visit Man O'War once when I was a young child...I am convinced it was on this trip...even though it would have required a swing south from Cincinnati through Kentucky...rather than driving due west to Indianapolis. Yes, no matter what my brother (and the map) have to say, I'm quite sure I saw Man O'War on that trip, and the sweet memory lingers...