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Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal

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Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal


We have booked a hotel in Old Montreal for the Easter long weekend. I don't want to take the route through the St. Lawrence (tunnel) is there an alternative route?

I have read to take the Thousand Islands Parkway detour, when does it come up off the 401 and how do we get back on towards Montreal?

Thank You for your assistance.


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1. Re: Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal


We're not sure why you've been advised to take the 1000 Islands Parkway, other than the fact that it is a pleasant alternative to the 401 between Gananoque & Brockville, but it adds a good 30 minutes to your travel time.

Coming into Montreal from Toronto you will not take the tunnel under the St. Lawrence River. You may be thinking of the Ville Marie Expressway (Rte 720) which tunnels under part of downtown Montreal, but you can certainly exit from it before it goes into the tunnel and drive on the surface streets to your destination in Old Montreal. We'd suggest you pull up a Google map for Ontario, select "Directions" & enter your street address in Toronto and the address of your hotel in Montreal. It will show you a route, which you can then zoom in on at the Montreal end to modify your route to avoid the tunnel.

You might also want to ask the fine folks on the Montreal forum of TA how to avoid the tunnel to reach your hotel:


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2. Re: Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal

Were you looking for a more scenic alternative to the 401 or just a route that would avoid the tunnel? As previously mentioned, the tunnel that goes under the St Lawrence River is at the east end of the island of Montreal, so you will be entering the island of Montreal by bridge- either on Rte 20 or Rte 40. The Ville Marie Tunnel is not under any sort of lake or river- its just a sunken expressway.

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3. Re: Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal

Have you considered the train? You can hop on Via from Union or Guildwood (or Oshawa) and end up in downtown Montreal. From there it is a $15 cab ride (with tip) to the Old Montreal hotel we like. I find a car in Montreal is a liability-expensive to park-and most of what we want to see is walkable or a short Metro ride.

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4. Re: Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal

Hi Dimetra P,


And I see that you are NEW to the TA FORUMS… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

<< I have read to take the Thousand Islands Parkway detour, when does it come up off the 401 and how do we get back on towards Montreal? >>

The 1000 Islands Parkway is aprox 40 Kms long, and runs from Gananoque in the west to just before Brockville in the east (Exit is marked 647 – 648… and you just follow the “green & yellow” signage for the Parkway).

It is indeed one of the most scenic drives in Ontario… and so YES, I do recommend getting off Hwy 401 and taking it if you have never done so (it is great from either direction, as each shows one a different view of the River and the Islands).

It will add aprox 25 minutes to your travel time… PLUS any time that you take to stop along the way… there are several turn-outs where you can pause for photographs… OR you can stop anywhere along the route for pictures, as long as you pull your car well off the highway.

You will re-emerge onto Hwy 401 just before Brockville (at Exit 685).

GOOGLE MAPS (1000 Island Parkway) = http://g.co/maps/n4vs6

And indeed no tunnel under the St Lawrence when coming into Montreal from the west… (you are thinking of the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge & Tunnel combo that is found on Trans Canada Hwy – Autoroute 20, when approaching fro the east).

Wikipedia – Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge & Tunnel = …wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis-Hippolyte_Lafontai…

You will be coming into Montreal via Autoroute 20 and crossing onto the Island of Montreal via the Galipeault Bridge that crosses the confluence of the Ottawa & St Lawerence Rivers between Lake of Two Mountains, and Lac St Louis

Wikipedia – Galipeault Bridge = en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galipeault_Bridge

GOOGLE MAPS (Galipeault Bridge) = http://g.co/maps/9eu2y

GOOGLE MAPS (Toronto to Montreal) = http://g.co/maps/c4uj9

On the Island of Montreal itself, if taking the above shortest route, there is only one possible tunnel you may have to deal with… the one on the Ville Marie Expressway (Autoroute 720)… you can see more details of it in close-up mode on the GOOGLE MAP I’ve provided above…

Wikipedia Photo – Entrance to the Ville Marie Tunnel = …wikipedia.org/wiki/…Start-of-tunnel-east.jpg

Wikipedia Photo – Ville Marie Tunnel = …wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Through-tunnel-1-ea…

*NOTE - Exit 4 within in the Tunnel... as shown in the photo... would be the normal exit for one going towards Old Montreal.

But as others have said the tunnel, is easily avoidable… by getting OFF the Expressway beforehand.

I too recommend that you post a separate Question in the MONTREAL TRAVEL FORUM so you can chat with locals about alterative routes so as to avoid the tunnel if you like (I could give you that info as I used to live in Montreal… BUT the Montreal Local Advisors & DEs will be up to date on road construction as well… so that might effect what otherwise would be my first go-to routes).

As well, there are a few other tunnels in Montreal as well… like the one on the Decarie Expressway… so if your plans include sightseeing by car around the city, be sure and check your routes before hand if tunnels are something you’d like to avoid.

Hope this is helpful,



Edited: 22 March 2012, 17:00
5. Re: Drive from Toronto to Old Montreal

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