A nondescript brown warehouse filled with old barrels and rickety pallets is an unlikely site for the spiritual heart of a city.
Yet beneath the worn cement floors of one such warehouse lies what archaeologists believe are the first permanent buildings of the settlement that became Montreal.
"This is where the Montreal adventure began," says archeologist Sophie Limoges, pointing to a large hole in the warehouse floor.
Limoges, who works for Montreal’s Pointe-a-Calliere museum, is in fact pointing to the remains of Fort Ville-Marie, the lost, original French settlement in Montreal.
The fort was built in 1642 and housed as many as 50 early colonists including Montreal’s founder Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and nurse Jeanne Mance. It would have been a key meeting place for aboriginal allies as well as the administrative heart of the colony.
But the exact location of the fort, which was eventually abandoned, has baffled historians since the 19th century. The most recent record of the fort dates from 1683.
Archaeologists got a break in the case when [continue]