Montreal's granite stumps get thumbs up from those who notice them

When the city first announced plans to spend $3.4 million on public art made of granite, some Montrealers balked at the cost, but the new decor seems to be appreciated — at least by those who've noticed it.

$3.4M pricetag includes granite stumps, benches and three-dimensional maps

The granite stumps are scattered across the Mount Royal Heritage Site. They're inscribed with text that's meant to offer clues about the history of the landscape. (CBC)

When the city first announced plans to create public art made of granite on Mount Royal, some Montrealers balked at the price tag, but the new decor seems to be appreciated — at least by those who've noticed it.

The installations are part of a $3.4 million project called Discovery Halts, which was commissioned for Montreal's 375th anniversary.

The cost covers 10 granite seating areas, about 70 granite stumps and a dozen three-dimensional maps scattered across the Mount Royal Heritage Site.

The territory includes Mount Royal Park, Westmount Summit, as well as Outremont's recently re-named Park Tiohtià:ke Otsira'kéhne.

The idea, explains Civiliti landscape architect Peter Soland, is for the installations to subtly integrate into the landscape and encourage people to leave the beaten path.

The project also includes a dozen three-dimensional maps like this one, at Beaver Lake, which show the three summits that make up the Mount Royal Heritage Site. (CBC)

But when CBC asked people at Mount Royal Park what they thought of the new scenery, many of them hadn't noticed.

Sarah Desrosiers was jogging near the Belvédère Kondiaronk at the top of Mount Royal when CBC invited her to take a look.

She said it could come in handy for pushups or stretching.

"For me spending money on art is not only a good thing, it's necessary and I'm very proud and very comfortable with spending my taxes on art," she said.

"Especially when it becomes accessible to everybody in a natural space where everybody hangs out."

Andrea Mygrant was eating at a picnic table on Friday near one of installations, but she'd missed it.

"But we were very focused on our lunch," she explained.

Mygrant, a tourist from Boston, said it's always nice when a city invests in public art. 

"I appreciate when art is in places that people can view it. Whether you are a fan of it or not. If you don't like it then you don't need to come and look at it."

Peter Soland, Civiliti Landscape Architect, says his firm's project aims to encourage people to leave the beaten path. (CBC)

Soland said he hopes to eventually develop a map to share with the public, which could help people understand the full intent of the project and all of its components. 

He said he doesn't mind the criticism — it's a part of the job. 

"We work in public space and if you're [working in the] public space you get reactions from the public," he said.

"For every negative comment I get two people that ... just find the project a welcome addition to their experience in the park."

It took five years to research, plan and create the individual installations, which all take into account their individual settings and histories.

While some have criticized the choice of materials, Soland said he wanted to build it to last.

"We chose granite because it's the most resistant. The bronze itself will live and age with time and take on its own patina," he said.

"It's not a project that we want to see disappear in five years."

The installations are made of granite and bronze, which were chosen because they should withstand the elements and the test of time. (cbc)