Opening Up the Oratory

St. Joseph's Oratory

It’s the thrill of discovering a new perspective on what you see everyday: that’s why I have such a thirst for finding new vantage points from which to overlook the city. If you ask me, a great night out usually involves some beer and a spot on some apartment building’s rooftop. (That’s no secret to regular readers: check out the new Rooftops and Views from Above tags.) You can pretty much guess what I think of the new plan to create a public observatory inside the dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory, then.

The Oratory, a Catholic basilica, is one of Montreal’s most distinctive landmarks. You can see it from just about any spot in the south or west in the city, its giant copper dome peeking up from above the trees of Mount Royal. In the north, its presence is monumental, lording over the neighbourhoods of Côte des Neiges and Snowdon. You can even see it from the airport in Dorval, where it looks like the nipple of a large, misshapen breast. Every year, the Oratory receives two million visitors, many of them Catholic pilgrims from Korea and Latin America, and it has been looking for ways to attract even more tourists. Opening an observation deck would be a sure-fire way to make the basilica an essential stop for anyone spending time in Montreal.

It could also change way that Montrealers see their own city. Maybe I’m investing too much hope in the transformative power of a good view, but the Oratory’s observation deck would possess an entirely unique perspective Montreal; it would be the only spot in town with a view completely unobstructed by Mount Royal. By extension, it would also be the only place where you could actually look over on Mount Royal. People would be able to get a better sense of how the mountain relates to the city and how its presence has shaped the urban development of Montreal. It would be a spectacular change from the usual vantage points.

Oratory observatory

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Monday March 16 2009at 12:03 pm , filed under Canada and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “Opening Up the Oratory”

  • I agree, a wonderful idea. Has any progress been made? I haven’t heard anything about this project in the local news.

  • The announcement was made less than two weeks ago, so there hasn’t been any progress. I don’t know why, but I didn’t notice any mention of it in any press except Metro, of all places. The project is supposed to be completed by 2013. No funding has been secured yet.