Finally, we come to the end of our journey through Montréal’s Space for Life (Espace pour la Vie): the insectarium and botanical garden (Jardin Botanique). Ironically, it’s also the largest space; in fact, you could easily spend the better part of a day in the botanical garden alone. The gardens are about a 10–15 minute walk from the rest of the Space for Life complex.
The Insectarium is housed in a somewhat small building (when compared with the Biodôme and planetarium), but it’s billed as “one of the largest insect museums in North America.” Truly, I’m stumped to think of another, so who am I to argue with that claim?
Two steps inside the building and the kids were enthralled. Their mother had a constant look of unease the entire time we were there, but the kids? They LOVED this place.
The museum houses 250,000 (mostly mounted) specimens of various insects, from the familiar to the exotic and from the miniature to the disturbingly large.
We made a circuit of the museum in about 30 minutes, but don’t let that fool you. There were a lot of creepy crawlies packed into those 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, the botanical garden was our last stop of the day, and we were running out of time. Like I said, you could easily spend an entire day exploring the various gardens and meandering paths.
The garden covers more than 185 acres (75 hectares), which is quite astonishing when you realize that it’s still within Montréal city limits. There are 10 greenhouses, roughly 20 themed gardens (including elaborate Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations gardens), and 22,000 different plant species. A vast majority of the garden is the arboretum, which we never even saw. Sadly.
Take a look at a very cool interactive map of the garden here.
Verdict? Our visit was cut short by dwindling sunlight and rain, and I desperately wished for more time to return and explore more. So, I’ll base my verdict on that. If you’re interested in flowers, plants, or breathtakingly beautiful outdoor spaces, this is a definite Don’t Miss. It’s one of the largest botanical gardens I’ve been to, and the landscaping was, in a word, stellar.
The park also puts on a host of classes, special exhibits, and summer concerts, so I’d imagine this is quite the place to be when there’s not snow everywhere. Of everything we saw in Montréal, the botanical garden is what made me most jealous of the city’s residents. Having this in your backyard is a rare treat. Every visitor to the city should have it on their itinerary.
(Disclosure: We were guests of the Space for Life for the day. All opinions are my own.)