Photo cred – David Giral
Next to the Moscow Metro, Montreal boast some one of the most beautiful subway art in the world. A lot of these pieces were planned into the system from the very start, with the aim of illustrating the historical figures and social values on which Quebec society was built. Although many planned artworks never made it off the drawing board – sometimes they would not be completed until years after a station's opening – recent metro expansions have had money for installations built right into the budget. This move has inspired other cities, such as Brussels, that have sought to beautify transit systems of their own.
Photo cred – André Querry
Sights To See: This station is adorned in shades of purple, red, and green. Sweeping non-parallel lines criss-cross the station, evoking the area's former factories. A stainless steel sculpture hangs above the entry area, reflecting additional light.
De la Concorde
Sights To See: One of the newest additions to the Montreal metro, this station is also one of its most futuristic looking. A sculpture consisting made of tangled tubes hangs outside the station. Travellers descend down a windowed tube into a large open underground space delineated by concrete cylinders, blocks, and cubes. All of this is a bit of a shame, as it's one of the least-used stations in the system.
Sights To See: This is one of those stations that takes a lot of walking to descend to the train platform. A central feature is the huge round vertical shaft that feeds oodles of light into the station, which is characterized by clay wall tiles, and granite floors and benches. Overall, the art takes a lot of cues from surrounding Outremont: the shapes depicted by a mural at track level are representative of the neighbourhood's doorways.
Sights To See: Charlevoix Metro's two platforms are stacked on top of each other, as the area's shale rock formations precluded the traditional side-by-side set-up, a characteristic it shares with De L'Eglise Metro next door. This took some deep digging to accomplish: the lower platform is 27 metres underground. Psychedelic stained glass windows enchant riders on their descent.
Sights To See: This final station on the Snowdon Metro has an industrial, cubical motif, featuring light fixtures fixed on rails. Its design favours departing passengers: from the entrance escalators feed riders straight to the west-bound platform; arriving passengers must ascend a escalator and then cross the tracks over a bridge.
Photo cred – Franz Sturm Ph.D
Sights To See: Georges-Vanier's small street-level foot-print understates the visual treat beneath. Grey diagonals and blue trapeze tile shapes adorn the platform area. The focal point of the station is a concrete, light fixture-bearing sculpture titled Un arbre dans le parc.
Sights To See: At track level you are greeted by low-key brick. Ascend to the mezzanine however, and you'll find your eye drawn to the ceiling of this cavernous four-story tall open space. Pic et Pelle, a pair of steel tube sculptures symbolic of metro construction workers, guard the way.
Sights To See: As this is the station that will let you out closest to the Jean-Talon market in Little Italy, this understated subway station features murals that capture scenes from the nearby market.
Sights To See: In this green line terminal station, your train emerges from the dark straight into a park in a matter of seconds. Beams of concrete support rows of half-hoop plastic tubes, which, during the day, turn this into one of the system's brightest stations.
Champ de Mars
Sights To See: It's the stained glass steals the show at this station as well. The work, comissioned in 1968, was painted by Marcelle Ferron in the Automatiste style. Les Automatistes were a Quebecois group of artistic dissidents that incorporated seemingly random hand movements in their work, which they felt allowed them to better express the subconscious.
Photo cred – Sarah
Sights To See: The centre-piece of this blue line station are the interlocking puzzle-like pieces and flowing bars of stainless steel at the platform level. The bright pastel palette recurs throughout the station. At street level, the station's kiosk is of modern glass-and-concrete construction.
Sights To See: This station's 70s-style concrete-everywhere construction is all about shades of grey. But it's the interplay between diagonal cuts into concrete and rigidly defined shafts of light emerging from fluorescent ceiling fixtures that gives it its unique charm.
Why You Should Go: This is another station that is bathed in sunlight. A recurring design feature is the whisical use of the Montreal metro logo, which are arranged in various orientations to point hurried travellers along on their journey.
De La Savane
Why You Should Go: We've saved one of the best for last, so you're being amply rewarded if you've read thus far. A unique futurist design featuring irregularly shaped concrete and almost haphazardly placed light fixtures, its centre-piece is an abstract steel sculpture titled Calcite. Almost everything about this little trod station screams "Wow!"
This post would not have been possible without the excellent work of Montreal's many amazing photographers who shared their amazing pictures to Flickr. We <3 you.
A History of Canada by Montreal Metro – An ongoing exploration of Montreal's metro by Montreal writerer Sam Wood
Montreal by Metro – A trove of fascinating Montreal metro facts