Like his acolyte Adrien Hébert, a painter passionate about urban and harbour life, Marc-Aurèle Fortin painted panoramas of Montreal and the Hochelaga neighbourhood, which he would see in the distance “from the north shore of the St. Lawrence, across the river, and [of which] he tried to capture the full complexity at one go, while also striving to reveal all its beauty” (J. de Roussan, M. A. Fortin, Marcel Broquet, 1982). Fortin regularly worked on the motif; he painted, among other things, views of Mount Royal, Île Sainte-Hélène, and harbour scenes, among them Coin du port de Montréal, a sponge watercolour painted around 1925. Sponge watercolour is characterized by openings in the painted surface attributable to the way the paper dries.
A gifted watercolourist and tireless traveller, Fortin bicycled through the countryside in search of beautiful vistas carrying only his watercolour box and a roll of paper. At that time, the thirty-year-old kept company with the painter Clarence Gagnon and the poet Albert Ferland, who wished to highlight the richness of the Quebec terroir by setting the picturesque landscapes of every region at the heart of their work. Above all else, Fortin admired trees; their enveloping and majestic presence cradles this watercolour.