In 1535 Jacques Cartier climbed the mountain and named it Mount Royal
200 Montrealers serve as “governors” of Les amis de la montagne, members of the corporation and ambassadors
For more than 30 years several thousand individuals and organizations have supported Les amis de la montagne financially
1,500 volunteers work on the organization’s behalf
It started out in 1986 as a grassroots movement with the goal of protecting and promoting Montreal’s iconic landmark, Mount Royal. Today, Les amis de la montagne is a broad-based, multi-faceted organization that unites the city’s citizens, its businesses and various levels of government behind a common cause that enriches the lives of all Montrealers.
“Les amis de la montagne began as a gathering of the community to oppose the building of a tower on Mount Royal that would have permanently changed the mountain’s landscape to the detriment of Montreal,” says Peter Howlett, the organization’s founding president. “Today our mandate is to protect and enhance Mount Royal through community involvement and environmental education.”
Power Corporation has been a supporter of Les amis de la montagne for many years. As its millennium gift to Montréal, Power made a donation that was earmarked by Les amis de la montagne to make improvements to the facilities in the Beaver Lake sector of the sprawling park, which was officially inaugurated in 1876.
“The donation was the most significant private contribution towards an infrastructure project in the park,” says Howlett, “and Power’s gift was the impetus to greatly expand the scope of revitalization projects in the Beaver Lake area. In fact, Power’s initial donation was augmented by a factor of ten through subsequent restoration initiatives by the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec. Mount Royal Park’s vitality depends upon the support of major corporations as this not only influences the decisions taken by our political leaders, but also convinces others to get on board and participate as well.”
As part of the project, the Beaver Lake Pavilion was totally renovated and restored to its original condition when it opened in the late 1950s. With its unique architecture dating from the period, the Pavilion is used year-round to accommodate visitors to the park and includes a restaurant and rental equipment facilities.
The project also included the construction of a refrigerated skating rink in the form of a figure eight. Skating on Beaver Lake is something of a ritual for Montrealers but weather conditions in recent years had sometimes left the ice surface of the lake unusable. The new skating rink is mechanically cooled and is operated throughout the skating season. Power Corporation supported the creation of the rink in honour of Jean Béliveau, the Montreal Canadiens’ hockey legend and an enduring inspiration to future generations.
“Mount Royal is as much a cultural landmark as a geographic one,” says Paul Desmarais, Jr., Chairman and Co-CEO, Power Corporation. “It is the jewel in the city’s crown and Les amis de la montagne continues to do a remarkable job in its preservation while making it an open and inviting community space.”