Our historic site began in 1705 when Claude de Ramezay, then Governor of Montréal, decided to build a residence surrounded by a vast 41,880 ft² garden and fruit tree orchard. Over the years, the owner and function of the Château Ramezay changed several times. It was witness to major historical events and many historical figures came through its doors, including the Intendant Hocquart, the poet Émile Nelligan, Governor Lord Elgin and Benjamin Franklin.
In the spring of 1893, the Québec Government no longer had use for this old building and decided to abandon it. The date of the auction was set for October 24. Faced with the threat of losing the Château Ramezay to axes of demolition workers, the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal (ANSM) mobilized public opinion and put pressure on authorities. Founded in 1862, this society brought together Montrealers who were concerned about preserving their heritage. ANSM succeeded in convincing the City of Montréal to purchase the Château and, in exchange, it agreed to set up a museum, a national portrait gallery and a public library. Their museum opened its doors on May 1, 1895.
From the inception of the society, the collection was primarily formed through donations of citizens who wanted to preserve the vestiges of our past and, in particular, to help educate the next generation. This collection is characterized by the richness, rarity and diversity of its pieces. Estimated at nearly 30,000 objects, it can be subdivided into several categories: ethnology, manuscripts, printed material, prints, paintings, furniture, etc
The Château Ramezay has been presenting historical exhibitions and organizing cultural, scientific and museological activities for more than 120 years. Its mission is to preserve, highlight and provide access to a building, which is classified as an historical monument, and a collection mainly focused on the history of Montréal and Québec. To do so, it implements educational activities and hosts events closely connected with Montréal’s cultural life.
From 1997-2010, through a Montréal cultural development agreement between the City of Montréal and the Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications, the Château underwent an extensive interior and exterior restoration. In June 2000, its landscaping was redeveloped in order to create the Governor’s Garden. This garden is a typical example of an 18th century urban garden in New France and is a rare vestige from a bygone era. In addition to its garden, the Château Ramezay presents its collections through a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions, which reveal the culture, heritage and daily life of Québec’s inhabitants over the centuries.
Today, having greeted millions of visitors, the Château Ramezay continues its mission of conservation and education. Through its architecture, history and various activities, it has become a major heritage attraction in the very heart of the historic district of Old Montréal. Three centuries after its construction, and despite its storied past, the Château Ramezay is still dynamic and alive, honouring our history while remaining solidly anchored in present-day reality. Thanks to its volunteers, partners and staff, this unique institution continues to develop and maintain its essential role in our society.
The Château Ramezay is a private, non-profit organization. It was the first building proclaimed an historical monument in Québec and is the province’s oldest private history museum. It is accredited by the Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications and its partners include the City of Montréal, the Arts Council of Montréal, Heritage Canada, and the Archives nationales du Québec.