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Montreal Families

Revamped exhibit at Pointe-à-Callière

Families looking for adventures at sea — while staying warm and dry on land — can experience the updated and expanded Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? exhibit at Pointe-à-Callière, Montreal Archaeology and History Complex.

Completely revamped, the family-friendly exhibition gives sailors 5 to 12 the chance to experience life aboard a ship in New France. Kids will enter the world of Canada’s most renowned privateer, ship’s captain Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, and relive his journey on the St. Lawrence River.

New features integrated into the interactive space include videos, a naval battle, participatory video games, atmospheric lighting, and new scenic elements.

“In this new version of the exhibition, we wanted to maximize the use of digital technology in order to surprise our young visitors and make activities even more participatory and interactive,” explains Francine Lelièvre, Executive Director of Pointe-à-Callière. “We wanted to create an immersive atmosphere in which children, and even older people, can have fun while learning about the history of pirates and privateers.”

Revamped exhibit at Pointe-à-Callière

© Laura Dumitriu / Pointe-à-Callière

Guided by the mischievous parrot Coco, swashbuckling youngsters will meet other well-known historical figures including the infamous Blackbeard, Calico Bart, and Mary Read, one of the most famous female pirates. Visitors will learn the differences between pirates and privateers and discover aspects of life aboard the ship — which certainly wasn’t for the faint of heart. See what kind of grub was eaten while at sea and learn maritime maneuvers. Take a whiff of the ship’s overpowering smells, chase rats off the boat, and cringe at the punishments that sailors might have endured.

During the self-guided tour, visitors can also view maritime objects on display, including some from the Quebec television series D’Iberville, broadcast in 1967-1968. There are navigational instruments, dishes and cooking items, furniture, personal items, weapons, and more.

For an authentic souvenir of their adventure, kids can watch their faces transform into their favourite pirate or privateer at the free photo booth and receive the picture by email.

While the permanent exhibit is aimed at kids, it’s enjoyable for all ages. Our family has visited the museum three times and had a blast each time. Set aside a few hours to see the entire site.

About Pointe-à-Callière

Consisting of seven pavilions and structures, the museum celebrates the birthplace of Montreal and is the city’s largest history museum. Permanent exhibitions showcase Montreal’s history and archaeology through fun and interesting ways such as the dazzling 17-minute multimedia Generations MTL show, the underground visit to the ruins of Ville-Marie’s first Catholic cemetery, and a walk through the city’s first collector sewer, built between 1832 and 1838.

Inside the illuminated sewer. credit: Christine Latreille

The museum also showcases great civilizations, history, and heritage through temporary exhibits put on three to four times each year. And while it is currently paused due to COVID-19 restrictions, children can also usually experience a simulated archaeological dig. Check the museum’s social media to stay up-to-date on current offerings.

Health measures have been implemented to ensure a safe exhibition and exploration environment. To see the full list of rules and to avoid disappointment, visit the Guidelines for Visitors page before heading to the museum. The Plan your visit page is also full of good-to-know topics like lockers, accessibility, family activities, and promotions.

To learn more about the museum and its permanent and temporary exhibits, or to see hours and rates, visit pacmusee.qc.ca/en/

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