Guy Laliberté stands on a dock at the old port of Montreal and surveys the skyline. This is the city of a hundred steeples, as well as the 20-story La Grande Roue de Montréal Ferris wheel and the 90-year-old Jacques Cartier Bridge, its cantilevers a bright aqua blue. Up above is Mount Royal, the hill topped with a 100-foot steel cross. To his right, a blue-and-white-striped circus tent.

“My first baby,” says Laliberté, pointing to the big top, where Cirque du Soleil performs. A black beanie is pulled over his head, a pair of ripped jeans hang on his hips. Laliberté turns to the left, where an 81-foot-tall gleaming white pyramid stands. “My new baby,” says Laliberté, 59.