Church bells, protests, lighting of Jacques Cartier Bridge to mark Montreal's 375th Wednesday

Wednesday marks 375 years since French missionaries and settlers led by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve arrived on the island of Montréal on May 17, 1642.

City ready to unveil $39.5M lighting installation on bridge after years of preparation and criticism

The Jacques-Cartier Bridge lights will change shades with the seasons and respond to stimuli including weather patterns and traffic flow. (Moment Factory/375MTL)

The City of Montreal will mark the 375th anniversary of its founding as a French colony Wednesday, with a day of events capped by the unveiling of its contentious $39.5-million project to illuminate the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

A number of protests are also planned to coincide with the anniversary, including one by the union representing Montreal police.

At 8:45 a.m., the bells of Saint Joseph's Oratory will be joined by the ringing of other church bells around the city to mark the arrival of French missionaries and settlers led by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve on the island of Montréal on May 17, 1642.

That will be followed at 9 a.m. by a mass celebrating Montreal's religious diversity and First Nations' roots at Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal.

First Nations singers and drummers will also play a role in Merci Montréal, a 10:30 a.m. performance by the École supérieur de ballet du Québec at Place d'Armes.

Wednesday evening features the premiere of Montreal Avudo, a multimedia show by Italy's Compagnia Finzi Pasca inspired by the St. Lawrence River.

There are no tickets left for the opening performance, however, the free show runs throughout the spring and summer. It takes place at the King Edward Quay at the Old Port.

Jacques Cartier Bridge lights up

The grand finale comes at 9:45 p.m. with the illumination of the 2.5-kilometre Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The project, which many criticized as a waste of taxpayers' money, involves approximately 2,800 lights that change shades to reflect the passing seasons and respond to the flow of traffic, weather and other stimuli.

The lighting project was conceived and designed by the Montreal multimedia company Moment Factory.

The bridge will be closed to traffic Wednesday night from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. 

Protests planned

The union representing Montreal police officers is organizing a protest outside Montreal City Hall Wednesday night. 

Montreal police have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2014.

Another protest targeting the city bylaws dealing with horse-drawn calèches, pit bull-type dogs and other animal control issues is also planned.