As you may know, or not, I am from Montreal. This friendly city of the province of Quebec, despite being cold in winter, is privileged with multiculturalism and is best known for its numerous artistic festivals. This year, the Canadian Metropole celebrates its 375th anniversary. It was founded in 1624 by Jeanne Mance and Paul de Chomedey. The city was first called Ville-Marie and eventually became Montreal, which is a reference to its mountain the Mount-Royal (which is, by the way, NOT a volcano…).
But, anyway, let’s not dig too far away in history and let’s come to our main point. I feel honoured to say that my city once received the visits of Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman (on two different occasions). I thought of sharing that with you, as you may wonder how they came to visit us. About Audrey Hepburn, I didn’t find any information about her visiting Montreal so I don’t think she ever did, but, if you know something, please don’t hesitate to share it in the comments!
Our two blonde ladies travelled to Montreal for cultural festivities. The first one to visit us was Grace Kelly, during the Universal Exhibition of 1967 (Expo 67). This remains one of the most important cultural events that Montreal ever organized. Montreal was not the first city to organize a universal exhibition. On Notre-Dame Island, Ste-Helene Island and Cité du Havre were build different futuristic and avant-guardist pavilions representing various countries. In 1967, Grace had been married to Rainier III and was the Princess of Monaco for since 11 years. Grace, Rainier and their two first children, Caroline (10) and Albert (9), attended the exhibition as guests of honours on July 18, 1967, which marked Monaco’s official day at the Expo. They visited various pavilions, took a ride on the mini-rail (a mini-train that was built for the Expo to allow people to go from one place to another rapidly. Still exists today), attended a ball at the Château Champlain, and Rainier was here to officially open Monaco’s pavilion to the city of Montreal.
Unfortunately, Grace’s visit to Montreal ended on a sad note as she suffered from a miscarriage the following day. She was admitted at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.
Interestingly, this year we don’t only celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montreal, but also the 50th anniversary of the Expo 67!
Grace leaving Montreal
Interestingly, Grace also attended the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City two years after, in 1969. This was the 15th edition of the carnival. Grace and Rainier were invited as Grace was a friend of the then Mayor’s wife (she was American and they went to school together in Philadelphia). Rainier couldn’t go to the festival, but Grace managed to be free for the occasion and attended many celebrations. We can safely say that she graced the city.
Ingrid Bergman was one of the honourable guesses who attended the first edition of the Montreal World Film Festival. That was in 1977. Almost 50 000 persons attended the festival that year. Gloria Swanson, Jean-Luc Goddard, Fay Wray and Howard Hawks were some other important celebrities who attended the festival in 1977. The first festival was a non-competitive one. It officially became a competition in 1978. Montreal World Film Festival is Canada’s oldest film festival.
Ingrid Bergman had previously been interviewed by Quebecois journalist Judith Jasmin in 1957 when she was in Paris to perform on stage in Thé et Sympathie.
In conclusion, all this makes me regret not being born sooner. Imagine, the chance to see Ingrid Bergman and/or Grace Kelly in my hometown! My parents would have had this chance, but, unfortunately, I don’t think they took it. Time travel machines should definitely exist.
“Début du Festival canadien de films du monde.” Bilan du Siècle, n.d. http://bilan.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/pages/evenements/3312.html, Accessed Apr. 7, 2017.
“Expo 67 Terre des Hommes: Grace Kelly et le Prince de Monaco.” Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, n.d. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/expo/0533020401_f.html. Accessed Apr. 7, 2017.
“Palmaries du Festival des films du monde de Montreal – 1977.” n.d, http://www.ffm-montreal.org/palmares/40-palmares-du-festival-des-films-du-monde-de-montreal-1977.html. Accessed Apr. 7, 2017.
Provencher, Jean. “Et vint une belle princesse.” Le Carnaval de Quebec: la grande fête de l’hiver. Éditions Multimonde, 2003. Google Search Books. Accessed April 7, 2017.