News & Features

Alternatives to Horse-Drawn Carriages (calèches) in Old Montreal

In an effort to show judgement and empathy towers the plight of the carriage horses, here are some alternative ways to enjoy Old Montreal without horse drawn carriages.

Photo: Unknown

A while back, we wrote an article about horse drawn carriages (French: calèches) in Old Montreal. We had failed to do a proper background check, so we were unaware of the sad and tragic conditions that these poor horses endure. After proper research, it became clear that the plight of the calèche horses have been filmed, photographed and documented. These horses have to endure unbearable extreme weathers, in winter and summer, in city traffic conditions that are inhumane. It is a barbaric tradition and we do not want to help perpetuate the exploitation of these animals by promoting this activity.

We are ashamed to have promoted animal suffering by suggesting calèche rides in Old Montreal. A beautiful city like Montreal does not need to promote itself using animal cruelty. The city is not a place for horses and there is nothing romantic in using mistreated animals to visit the city. In an effort to show judgement and empathy towards the plight of the carriage horses, here are some alternative ways to enjoy Old Montreal without horse drawn carriages.

Experience Old Montreal by Walking

Walking is easily the best way to get around old Montreal. Old Montreal is small enough that you can experience all that it has to offer by walking, especially during the summer months, when parts of the old city are only available to pedestrians. Nothing beats a leisurely stroll through the charming cobblestone streets and winding alleys of this historic district. Walking through Old Montreal will lead you through a maze of narrow streets where you can find a multitude of historic buildings and landmarks. Explore the birthplace of Montreal and experience a special voyage back in time! There are also plenty of guided tour companies that provide scheduled walking tours and private walking tours as well. Most of these walking tours are filled with historical, architectural and anecdotal information that will highlight the best of Montreal’s birthplace.

Experience Old Montreal by Bike

Another popular way to experience all that Old Montreal has to offer is by bicycle. With city-wide bike rentals, 600 kilometers of bike paths and plenty of food-and-drink stops along the way, it’s no wonder why Montreal has developed a reputation as a bicycle-friendly city. Along with the many tours offered in Old Montreal, biking around Old Montreal is one of the best ways to discover a landmark, a new boutique or a new cafe. Whether you rent bikes, bring your own, or try Montreal’s BIXI system, cycling remains another great way to discover Old Montreal’s charms.



  1. Carla Marques

    March 28, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Dear writers of GO! Montreal. Thank you so much for writing this new article. Clearly you were very attentive and sensitive to our concerns as citizens of this great city who are, in majority, against this practice. We all have to be conscious of the pain and torture these poor animals go through and we thank yo for aknowledging that. You have shown to be a responsible organisation. If only you could remove that caleche picture…it would be wonderful. Promote our city by showing our city with people walking…biking…and simply enjoying what is one of the most amazing places to visit. Please.

    Thank you once again,


  2. Toni

    March 28, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Montreal is truly a great city and we can make it even greater by being kind and compassionate to all.

    On behalf of all our calèche horses, we thank you for being visionaries.

  3. Danny Balleani

    March 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for speaking out against horse drawn carriages.There are plenty of cruelty free alternatives to see our beautiful city.

  4. MR

    March 28, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you to tourism Montreal for bringing light to the reality that these animals live. This article is spot on what Montreal needs. We need to promote alternatives to this industry.

    • Vanessa

      March 28, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Bravo for this article. Old Montréal is just as beautiful on foot or on bike. It is great time that the horse retire and hopefully enjoy some well deserved green space. Thank you for this.

  5. Leila

    March 28, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Good job GO Montreal, thank you!

  6. Stephanie

    March 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for this article 🙂
    One step at a time, together we are making this world better..even if we don’t see it yet, every action count.

  7. e .hogan

    March 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    vraiment tres rafraichissant cet article .merci de rapporter la vérité !! et de proposer des alternatives aux promenades en caleches !!encore merci !!

  8. Mirella

    March 28, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Lovely article! Strolling through the charming Old Port is a unique experience and Montreal’s bike paths allow you to travel anywhere in the city and explore many hidden gems.

  9. Lori

    March 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    This is wonderful. I applaud you for acknowledging your readers’ feedback. Very few websites do that! Bravo.

  10. Johanna

    March 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Truly grateful you decided to look deeper into the horse drawn carriage issue, and re-write your article. Well done guys!

  11. Anne

    March 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Excellent idea! The city is no place for horses! Thanks for saying so!

  12. P. Rei

    March 28, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you so very much for writing this article and helping us to get suffering off the streets. You are truly wonderful/

  13. Cynthia D'Errico, M.A.

    March 28, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you so much for letting tourists to our lovely city know that these horses suffer and it’s much better to see Montreal on foot or with a tour guide. Thank you sincerely.

  14. Pierre Limouzin

    March 29, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Merci à vous d’avoir tenu compte de la souffrance de ces pauvres animaux. Merci d’avoir agis pour faire cesser leur calvaire.
    Honneur à vous d’avoir pris ces initiatives, que tous les véganes et personnes sensibles apprécieront. Et, comme à n’en pas douter, les chevaux eux-mêmes. Que cet acte de compassion vous soit rendu par le succès de vos entreprises.

  15. Deborah Chalmers

    March 29, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Wonderful article. Thanks, Go! Montreal, for telling the truth about carriage horses, and suggesting other options for experiencing your fabulous city.

  16. Katherine Richards

    March 30, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    It is baffling how some people want to be removed from interaction with animals under the guise of compassion for animals. Horse especially thrive on human attention and a job. There a many legitimate documentation regarding this topic which defend urban working horses are well adapted and healthy. Most people love horses and they always draw attention. Praying this city doesn’t cave in to a loud minority that would enjoy seeing horses and their working humans marginilized.

  17. Barbara Steever

    April 2, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Wow! What a load of manure! This article is full of animal rights propaganda and language.
    “Sad and tragic”, “plight”, “unbearable weather extremes”,”inhumane”, “barbaric”,”exploitation”, “suffering” “cruelty”, and “mistreated”. All in only two paragraphs.
    Properly regulated carriage rides are a benefit to horses which need jobs to pay for their upkeep. Putting a horse out of work means putting it at risk. There is no government program to care for unemployed, homeless horses.
    There is nothing inherently cruel or inhumane in having a horse pull a carriage. I’d like to hear someone explain in a factual manner how it can be considered to be “barbaric”. Horses and humans have lived and worked together for millenia, but suddenly with the rise of people who FEEL it is wrong it has become “exploitation”. These same people would ultimately destroy the symbiotic relationship humans have with horses. I would remind everyone here that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
    Montreal should keep and promote the carriage rides as a lovely way to explore the city for visitors that get tired of walking, and aren’t into cycling. Carriage horses get the regular exercise they need, and visitors can enjoy the scenery and relax at the same time. As far as the weather goes, horses are outdoor animals. They can handle cold weather better than any human, and in hot weather, keeping them hydrated is all that is necessary. It isn’t like anyone is asking the carriage horses to work at a full gallop.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Friendly Advice

We strongly recommend a guided tour of Montreal since there is quite a lot to see and it always help to have someone hold you by the hand. Many tours are available year-round.

To Top