Every night the Mount Royal cross illuminates the sky and can be seen kilometers away. The lights are a white hue, but historically they haven’t always been the same colour.
According to historian Donovan King, the lights changed colour to mark moments in history. King says traditionally it was purple for the death of a pope, and the same hue for the death of Queen Elizabeth II‘s father King George.
“There have been some exceptions. It was turned red for a world AIDS conference in the ’80s. It also changed blue for a Jean Baptiste celebration, for example,” said Donovan.
However, he believes the nearly century-old cross has not changed colour since the City of Montreal took possession in 2004. In 2016, it did go dark for Earth Hour.
The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society was previously responsible for the 30-metre cross, but says it is unaware of the lights ever changing colour.
Montrealers who spoke to Global News say even if it’s not protocol, the lights should be purple following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“I’m not sure if it’s a necessity, but I think it would be nice because it would show the respect,” said Sue Peacock.
Ross Camiel added, “I think Canada should embrace the loss of such an important world figure. Definitely light it up.”
Some even think the cross’s colours should change like the Champlain Bridge does, marking special events.
“I’m not against a little bit of splurge once and a while for something that changes the urban environment, gives people something to look at, something to talk about,” said Pierre Ross.
Any chance of that happening in the future is up in the air. The City of Montreal did not get back to Global News by press time.
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