Pirates or Privateers?

Permanent exhibition for children 6 to 12 years old and for families

Pointe-à-Callière is seeking curious and courageous young people who are ready to embark on an adventure! The Pirates or Privateers? exhibition gives young visitors and families a golden opportunity to discover and measure themselves up to the rough and ready sailors who scoured the St. Lawrence River in the days of New France. Presented in an immersive environment, this discovery-exhibition takes place in a setting evoking a privateer ship—The Iberville—on which young people, playing their parts in a tale of adventure, can test their physical and intellectual skills.

Spotlight on New France!

The exhibition offers a unique experience that brings to life the world of Montréal privateer Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville. It is set during the Franco-British war in the late 17th/early 18th century, and gives young people a chance to serve on armed vessels manned by individuals who possess an authorization from the King of France to attack enemy trade ships.

Privateer and Pirate… What’s the difference?
Often mistaken for one another, pirates and privateers dealt with very similar challenges, but one group worked legitimately while the other didn’t. Privateers were sailors on armed civilian ships that, in times of war, were authorized by their government with a “letter of marque” to attack any ship—in particular, merchant traffic—flying the flag of enemy states. Pirates, on the other hand, were seafaring adventurers who sailed the waters attacking trade ships and stealing their booty, and who sometimes even attacked small seaside towns. Pirates are considered to be bandits of the seas.

Ship’s captain Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville must enlist young recruits to be part of his crew. D’Iberville invites young candidates to explore life aboard a period ship to see if they’ve got what it takes to become privateers. They will have to serve New France and face up to the enemy in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, on the Atlantic coast, and all the way to Newfoundland. It’s an opportunity for young people to explore fun and interactive spaces as they embark on an adventure with D'Iberville.

Privateer for a day

The exhibition also explores various aspects of the privateers’ daily lives, such as their diet, their duties while aboard a ship, and the punishment to which they were subjected... Visitors learn about the know-how required to execute maritime manoeuvres, and are given a peek into the captain’s quarters. And upon returning to dry land, it will finally be time to examine the booty... and to congratulate each other on a job well done! The exhibition features several objects and artefacts, including navigational instruments, personal objects, tools, weapons... and, of course, the booty brought back from expeditions at sea.

Everybody's talking...
  • « The best part about this exhibit is that kids really get a hands-on experience. » - Kristin Falcoa, CBC News Montreal

The visit of the exhibition for the general public and families is self-guided. Tours with a interpreter-guide are available from Tuesday to Friday for elementary school groups or groups of children from 3 to 5 years old (reservations required).

Music heard in the exhibition room: excerpt from the song Le Chant des corsaires performed by the musicians of the Québécois group Corsaire, traditional celtic music.

*Strollers are not permitted on the ship. There is a reserved space where they can be left in the exhibition room.

Please have fun but DON'T RUN! It is forbidden to eat or drink in the exhibition rooms of the Museum but an all-new area in the Ancienne-Douane building—the Saputo Lunch Room, designed to look like an inn—has been made available for use by families. There they will find lunch and rest spaces (no food for sale on site). On weekdays, please take note that the seatings of the Saputo Lunch Room are offered in priority to school groups visiting the Museum.

You can buy a Family Pass valid for a family of four on our online gift shop.