Often called the Sailors’ Memorial Clock, Montreal’s Clock Tower (French: Tour de l’Horloge ) is located in Old Montreal. This tower was built between 1919 and 1922 and marks the entrance to the Old Port. The tower was erected in honor of the Canadian sailors who lost their lives in World War I. The mechanism inside the clock is a replica of the one inside London’s Big Ben and was manufactured in England. Just like Big Ben, The clock was known to be extremely accurate, functioning for a long period as the time keeper for those who worked at the Port of Montreal.
Over its lifetime, the clock has served many purposes. The Clock Tower was used as a lighthouse, using its bright and powerful light to guide ships to port. Some of its other roles were:
- a monument to honor the memory of lost sailors
- a landmark to mark the entrance to the port
- a structure to conceal neighboring storage sheds
- a clock indicate the time (naturally…)
Today, the clock tower mainly serves as a tourist attraction. Standing about 45 meters (150 feet) tall, the clock tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Old Montreal. Visitors can climb the 192 steps of the Clock Tower to experience some of the most impressive views of Montreal and the St. Lawrence River.
Right next to the Clock Tower is Montreal’s urban beach known as the Clock Tower beach. Created in 2012, this urban oasis allows visitors and locals to sunbathe, read a book or enjoy a siesta. No swimming is allowed in the river for safety reasons and there is an entrance fee. Toronto has a similar beach, known as Canada’s Sugar Beach because it’s located next to a big sugar factory. Clock Tower beach was designed by the same company that designed Canada’s Sugar Beach.
The Clock Tower is usually open daily in the summer between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Once the door opens, you can begin to climb the stairs. As you make your way up the tower along the way take time to enjoy the interior of the tower. Enjoy the views of the outside, too. The Clock Tower is recognized as a historical landmark in Canada. In 1996 it was dubbed a heritage building.