Nearly 500 years ago, the Canada we now know and love consisted of only a small settlement along the shore of the Saint Lawrence River, which, upon discovery by Jacque Cartier, was commonly referred to as New France. Canada has since become a proud country upon binding its historic settlements into one fortified union, and, at the heart of one of its original provinces, Québec City proudly stands as one of the oldest settlements of North America; the only one north of Mexico with its original city walls still standing.
Inaugurated in 1896 at the core of the Old Québec District, Place De L’Hôtel De Ville, also known as Québec City Hall, serves a community that has strong ties to the history of their home, and a deep connection to their roots, their French culture, and each other. Officially designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984, Québec’s Place De L’Hôtel De Ville recently underwent a 21 million dollar renovation to breathe new life into this notable community space, and to celebrate the city’s 400th birthday.
The plans for revitalizing the City Hall’s garden included newly commissioned art, a vibrant water feature, and relaxing seating areas – but what birthday celebration would be complete without a gift? In conjunction with renowned watch maker Richard Mille, the newest canton of Switzerland, Canton du Jura, bestowed upon Québec City a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted clock in commemoration of their shared bond – a common appreciation for French language and culture, and a strong friendship.
Watchmakers from all over Québec City participated in assembling this 3.5 meter, 5400 part mechanism, but the clock isn’t the only thing drawing citizens and tourists to this coveted area. The public market had been held at this very spot since the establishment of the French Regime, where farmers from across the region would gather to sell their wares. Now, Place De L’Hôtel De Ville is home to a different form of interactive fun; a lively and engaging water feature that promotes play and serves as an exciting justification for the community to gather at the heart of this captivating city.
Over 40 customized jets with fog effects and colourful LED lights animate the City garden as visitors run through the refreshing streams or sit nearby admiring the view. From the patio of the garden guests take in the bursts of water, the Clock du Jura, statues commemorating the Teaching Brothers, seasonal decorations, and, of course, their monumental City Hall which represents the trials and accomplishments of Québec’s remarkable history.