All about Montreal. Historical and statistical information.

Archeological evidence suggests that various nomadic native peoples had occupied the island of Montreal for at least 2,000 years before the arrival of Europeans.[6] With the development of the maize horticulture, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of the Mount Royal.[7] The French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, claiming the St. Lawrence Valley for France.[8] He estimated the population to be "over a thousand".

Seventy years later, French explorer Samuel de Champlain reported that the St. Lawrence Iroquoians and their settlements had disappeared altogether from the St. Lawrence valley, likely due to inter-tribe wars, European diseases, and out-migration.[7] Champlain, known as the father of New France, founded a permanent French settlement in Quebec City in 1608. He would have established La Place Royale, a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal in 1611, but the indigenous Iroquois repelled the colonists.

Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of Ville-Marie

In 1639, Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to establish a Roman Catholic mission for evangelizing natives. Ville-Marie, the first permanent French settlement on the Island, was founded in 1642 at Pointe-à-Callière. Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve would act as governor of the colony, and Jeanne Mance built the Hôtel-Dieu, Montreal's first hospital.

By 1651, Ville-Marie had been reduced to less that 50 inhabitants by relentless attacks by Iroquois. Maisonneuve returned to France that year with the intention of recruiting 100 men to bolster the failing colony. He had already decided that should he fail to recruit these settlers, he would abandon Ville-Marie and move everyone back downriver to Quebec City. (Even 10 years after its founding, the people of Quebec City still thought of Montréal as "une folle enterprise" - a crazy undertaking.)[citation needed] These recruits arrived on 16th November 1653 and essentially guaranteed the evolution of Ville Marie and of all New France.[9]. Marguerite Bourgeoys would found the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Montreal's first school, in 1653. In 1663, the Sulpician seminary became the new Seigneur of the island.

Complementing its missionary origins, Ville-Marie became a centre for the fur trade and a base for further French exploration in North America. The bloody French and Iroquois Wars would threaten the survival of Ville-Marie until a peace treaty (see the Great Peace of Montreal[10]) was signed at Montreal in 1701. With the Great Peace, Montreal and the surrounding seigneuries nearby (Terrebonne, Lachenaie, Boucherville, Lachine, Longueuil, ...) could develop without the fear of Iroquois raids.[11] Ville-Marie remained a French colony until 1760, when Pierre François de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal surrendered it to the British army under Jeffrey Amherst during the French and Indian War.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the Seven Years' War and ceded eastern New France to the Kingdom of Great Britain. American Revolutionists under General Richard Montgomery briefly captured the city during the 1775 invasion of Canada.[12] United Empire Loyalists and Anglo-Scot immigrants would establish the golden era of fur trading centred in the city with the advent of the locally owned North West Company, rivaling the established Hudson's Bay Company.[citation needed] The English-speaking community built one of Canada's first universities, McGill, and the wealthy merchant classes began building large mansions at the foot of Mount Royal in an area known as the Golden Square Mile.[citation needed]

Industrialized city 1889

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The opening of the Lachine Canal permitted ships to bypass the unnavigable Lachine Rapids, while the construction of the Victoria Bridge established Montreal as a major railway hub. These linked the established Port of Montréal with continental markets and spawned rapid industrialization during the mid 1800s. The economic boom attracted French Canadian labourers from the surrounding countryside to factories in satellite cities such as Saint-Henri and Maisonneuve. Irish immigrants settled in tough working class neighbourhoods such as Point Saint Charles and Griffintown, making English and French linguistic groups roughly equal in size. Montreal would surpass Quebec City and Saint John, New Brunswick as the seat of financial and political power for both English and French speaking communities of Canada, a position it held for many years.[citation needed] By 1852, Montreal had 60,000 inhabitants; by 1860, it was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.

Montreal was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, but lost its status when a Tory mob burnt down the Parliament building to protest passage of the Rebellion Losses Bill.

Montreal 1959 as viewed from the mountain.

After World War I, the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montreal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol.[13] Unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Canada began to recover from the Great Depression in the mid-1930s, when skyscrapers such as the Sun Life Building began to appear.

During World War II, Mayor Camillien Houde protested against conscription and urged Montrealers to disobey the federal government's registry of all men and women. Ottawa was furious over Houde's insubordination and held him in a prison camp until 1944, when the government was forced to institute conscription (see Conscription Crisis of 1944).

After Montreal's population surpassed one million in the early 1950s, Mayor Jean Drapeau laid down plans for the future development of the city. These plans included a new public-transit system and an underground city, the expansion of Montreal's harbour, and the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Tall, new buildings replaced old ones in this time period, including Montreal's two tallest skyscrapers up to then: the 43-storey Place Ville-Marie and the 47-storey Tour de la Bourse. Two new museums were also built, and in 1966, the Montreal Metro system opened, along with several new expressways.

April 1967 aerial view of Île Sainte-Hélène on the left and Île Notre-Dame on the right, with most of the Expo 67 site in view, except Habitat 67 and the rest of the pavilions on la Cité du Havre. Source: the National Archives of Canada.

The city's international status was cemented by Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.

The mid-1970s ushered in a period of wide-ranging social and political changes, stemming in large part from the concerns of the French-Canadian majority about the conservation of their culture and language, given the traditional predominance of the English-Canadian minority in the business arena. The October Crisis and the election of the separatist political party, the Parti Québécois, resulted in major political, ethnic and linguistic shifts. The extent of the transition was greater than the norm for major urban centres, with social and economic impacts, as a significant number of (mostly anglophone) Montrealers, as well as businesses, migrated to other provinces, away from an uncertain political climate. Bill 101 was passed in 1977 and gave primacy to French as Quebec's (and Montreal's) only official language for government, the main language of business and culture, and enforced the exclusive use of French for public signage and business communication.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Montreal experienced a slower rate of economic growth than many other major Canadian cities. By the late 1990s, however, Montreal's economic climate had improved, as new firms and institutions began to fill the traditional business and financial niches. As the city celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1992, construction began on two new skyscrapers : 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. Montreal's improving economic conditions allowed further enhancements of the city infrastructure, with the expansion of the metro system, construction of new skyscrapers and the development of new highways including the start of a ring road around the island. The city also attracted several international organisations to move their secretariats into Montreal's Quartier International: IATA, ICSID, Icograda, International Bureau for Children's Rights (IBCR), International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). With developments such as Centre de Commerce Mondial (World Trade Centre), Quartier International, Square Cartier, and propsed revitalization of the harborfront, the city is regaining its international position as a world class metropolis.

Montreal was merged with the 27 surrounding municipalities on the Island of Montreal on 1 January 2002. The merger created a unified city of Montreal which covered the entire island of Montreal. This move proved unpopular, and several former municipalities, totalling 13% of the population of the island, voted to leave the newly unified city in separate referendums in June 2004. The demerger took place on 1 January 2006, leaving 15 municipalities on the island, including Montreal.

In 2006, the city was recognized by the international design community as a UNESCO City of Design, one of the three world design capitals.


A street in Montreal after a major snowstorm.

Montreal is located in the southwest of the province of Quebec, approximately 275 kilometres (168 miles) southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 190 kilometres (118 mi) east of Ottawa, the federal capital. It also lies 550 kilometres (335 mi) northeast of Toronto, and 625 kilometres (380 mi) north of New York City.

The city rests on the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The port of Montreal lies at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which is the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean. Montreal is bordered by the St. Lawrence river on its south side, and by the Rivière des Prairies on the north. The city is named after the most prominent geographical feature on the island, a three-head hill called Mount Royal.

Skyline of Montreal seen from Mont Royal park.

Montreal lies at the confluence of several climatic regions. Usually, the climate is classified as humid continental [14] or hemiboreal (Köppen climate classification Dfb).

Precipitation is abundant with an average snowfall of 2.25 metres (84 in) per year in the winter. It snows on average more in Montreal than in Moscow, Russia, and each year the city government spends more than C$100 million on snow removal.[citation needed] . Regular rainfall throughout the year averages 900 mm (35.3 in). Summer is the wettest season statistically, but it is also the sunniest.

The coldest month of the year is January which has a daily average temperature of -10.4 °C (13 °F) — averaging a daily low of -14.9 °C (5.2 °F), colder than either Moscow (-10 °C) or Saint Petersburg (-6 °C). Due to wind chill, the perceived temperature can be much lower than the actual temperature and wind chill factor is often included in Montreal weather forecasts. The warmest month is July which has an average daily high of 26.3 °C (79.3 °F); lower nighttime temperatures make an average of 20.9 °C (69.6 °F) thus air exchangers often achieve the same result as air conditioners. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -37.8 °C (-36.0 °F) on 15 January 1957 and the highest temperature ever was 37.6 °C (99.7 °F) on 1 August 1975.[15] High humidity is common in the summer which makes the perceived temperature higher than the actual temperature. In spring and autumn, rainfall averages between 55 and 94 millimetres (2.2 and 3.7 in) a month. Some snow in spring and autumn is normal. Similarly, late heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are a regular feature of the climate.[16]

[hide]Weather averages for Montreal, Quebec

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C -5.7 -3.9 2.2 10.7 19.0 23.6 26.2 24.8 19.7 12.7 5.3 -2.2 11.1

Average low °C -14.7 -12.9 -6.7 0.6 7.7 12.7 15.6 14.3 9.4 3.4 -2.1 -10.4 1.4

Precipitation mm 78.3 61.5 73.6 78.0 76.3 83.1 91.3 92.7 92.6 77.8 92.6 81.3 978.9

Average high °F 21.7 25.0 36.0 51.3 66.2 74.5 79.2 76.6 67.5 54.9 41.5 28.0 52.0

Average low °F 5.5 8.8 19.9 33.1 45.9 54.9 60.1 57.7 48.9 38.1 28.2 13.3 34.5

Precipitation inch 3.1 2.4 2.9 3.1 3.0 3.3 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.1 3.6 3.2 38.5

Source: Environment Canada[15] {{{accessdate}}}


Island of Montreal

Population by year

1931 - 1,003,868

1941 - 1,116,800

1951 - 1,329,232

1961 - 1,747,696

1971 - 1,959,140

1976 - 1,869,585

1981 - 1,760,122

1986 - 1,819,670

1991 - 1,815,202

1996 - 1,775,846[17]

2001 - 1,812,723[18]

2006 - 1,854,442[18]

Main article: Demographics of Montreal

According to Statistics Canada, at the 2006 Canadian census the city of Montreal proper had 1,620,693 inhabitants.[1] However, 3,635,571 lived in the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) at the same 2006 census, up from 3,451,027 at the 2001 census (within 2006 CMA boundaries), which means a population growth of +1.05% per year between 2001 and 2006.[3] In the 2001 census, children under 14 years of age (618,855) constituted 18.06 percent, while inhabitants over 65 years of age (442,720) numbered 12.92 percent of the total population. Some 13.55 percent of the population are member of a visible minority (non-white) group. Black people contribute to the largest visible minority group in Montreal Proper, numbering some 160,000 (8.16% of Montreal inhabitants), which is the second-largest community of Blacks in Canada, after Toronto. Other groups, such as Arabs, Latin American, South Asian, and Chinese are also large in number. (Chart on ethnicity on the left includes multiple responses[19]

Language most spoken at home

in the Montreal metropolitan area (CMA) 1996 [20] 2001 [21]

French 71.2% 72.1%

English 19.4% 18.5%

Other language 13.4% 13.1%

Note that percentages add up to more than 100% because some people speak two or more languages at home.

In terms of first language learned (in infancy), the 2001 census reported that on the island of Montreal itself, 53% spoke French as a first language, followed by English at 18%. The remaining 29% percentage is made up of many languages including Italian (3.6%), Arabic (2.1%), Spanish (1.9%), Chinese (1.24%), Greek (1.21%), Creole (predominantly of Haitian origin) (1.02%), Portuguese (0.86%), Romanian (0.70%), Vietnamese (0.60%), and Polish (0.40%). In terms of additional languages spoken, a unique feature of Montreal throughout Canada, noted by Statistics Canada, is the working knowledge of both French and English by most of its residents. For this reason, it is often considered a bilingual city rather than a French speaking city.[22]

Ethnic origin Population

Canadian 1,885,085

French 900,485

Italian 224,460

Irish 161,235

English 134,115

Scottish 94,705

Jewish 80,390

Haitian 69,945

Greek 55,865

German 53,850

Portuguese 41,050

Romanian 32,540

Armenian 25,439

Polish 23,890

The city of Montreal is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, however, church attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada.[23]. Historically Montreal has been a centre of Catholicism in North America with its numerous seminaries and churches, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, and Saint Joseph's Oratory. Some 84.56 percent of the total population is Christian,[24] largely Roman Catholic (74.51%), which is largely due to French, Irish, and Italian origins. Protestants which include Anglican, United Church, Lutheran and other number 7.02%, while the remaining 3.03% consists mostly of Orthodox Christians, fuelled by a large Greek population. Due to the large number of non-European cultures, there is a diversity of non-Christian religions. Islam is the largest non-Christian group, with some 100,000 members, the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada, constituting 2.96%. The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 93,000.[24] In cities such as Cote St. Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority,[25] or a substantial part of the population. As recently as the 1960s the Jewish community was as high as 130,000. The political and economic uncertainties led to many to leave Montreal and the Quebec province.


The Metropolitan Community of Montreal

Island of Montreal in winter, as seen from space

The head of the city government in Montreal is the mayor, who is first among equals in the City Council. The mayor is Gérald Tremblay, who is a member of the Union des citoyens et des citoyennes de l'Île de Montréal (English: Montreal Island Citizens Union). The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city, although much power is centralized in the executive committee. It consists of 73 members from all boroughs of the city. The Council has jurisdiction over many matters, including public security, agreements with other governments, subsidy programs, the environment, urban planning, and a three-year capital expenditure program. The City Council is also required to supervise, standardize or approve certain decisions made by the borough councils.

Reporting directly to the City Council, the executive committee exercises the decision-making powers similar to that of cabinet in a parliamentary system and is responsible for preparing various documents including budgets and by-laws, submitted by the City Council for approval. The decision-making powers of the executive committee cover, in particular, the awarding of contracts or grants, the management of human and financial resources, supplies and buildings. It may also be assigned further powers by the City Council.

Standing committees are the council's prime instruments for public consultation. They are responsible for the public study of pending matters and for making the appropriate recommendations to the council and its five constituent parts. They also review the annual budget forecasts for departments under their jurisdiction. A public notice of meeting is published in both French and English daily newspapers at least seven days before each meeting. All meetings include a public question period. The standing committees, of which there are seven, have terms lasting two years. In addition, the City Council may decide to create special committees at any time. Each standing committee is made up of seven to nine members, including a chairman and a vice-chairman. The members are all elected municipal officers, with the exception of a representative of the government of Quebec on the public security committee.

The city of Montreal is only one component of the larger Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (English: Montreal Metropolitan Community or MMC), which is in charge of planning, coordinating, and financing economic development, public transportation, garbage collection and waste management, etc., across the metropolitan area of Montreal. The president of the CMM is the mayor of Montreal. The CMM covers 3,839 square kilometres (1,482 sq mi), with 3,635,700 inhabitants in 2005.

Montreal now constitutes its own region of Quebec.

See also: Districts of Montreal and Montreal borough


Main article: Montreal culture

See also: Festivals and parades in Montreal

View of Montreal from McGill University

A cultural heart of classical art and the venue for many summer festivals, the Place des Arts is a complex of different concert and theatre halls surrounding a large open-spaced square in the downtown. The Place des Arts harbours the headquarters of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM: Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal), which performs in its halls regularly. The OSM is one of the world's foremost orchestras, most remembered for the quality of its performance of the repertoire of Maurice Ravel under conductor Charles Dutoit. Since 2006, the OSM has a new conductor, the American Kent Nagano. L'orchestre métropolitain and the chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal are two other well-regarded Montreal orchestras. Also performing home at Place des Arts is the Opéra de Montréal and the city’s chief ballet company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. In contemporary dance, Montreal has been active, particularly since the 80s. Internationally recognized avant-garde dance troupes such as La La La Human Steps, O Vertigo, and the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault have toured the world and worked with international popular artists on videos and concerts. The intelligent integration of multi-discipline arts in choreography of these troops has paved the way to the success of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.

Montreal is the cultural centre of Quebec, and of French-speaking North America as a whole. The city is Canada's centre for French language television productions, radio, theatre, film, multimedia and print publishing. The Quartier Latin is a neighbourhood crowded with cafés animated by this literary and musical activity. The local English-speaking artistic community nevertheless contributes dynamically to the culture of Montreal, and intense collaborations exist between all Montreal communities. The result is a dynamic musical scene, ignited by the presence of numerous musical festivals, that melts different musical styles and traditions. English theatre struggled but survived with the Centaur Theatre. Ethnic theatre, by the 70s, began to be a force with the Black Theatre Workshop, the Yiddish Theatre established at the Saidye Bronfman Centre and the Teesri Duniya Theatre. In the late 90s, Montreal started becoming a veritable hotspot for low-budget independent English theatre with companies such as MainLine Theatre, Gravy Bath Theatre, Sa Booge, Persephone, Pumpkin Productions, and Tableau D'Hôte Theatre warming up the once lackluster scene.


Scotiabank (formerly Paramount) movie theatre on Sainte-Catherine Street

The plaza on Place des Arts is the home of the most important events during several musical festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Montreal Francofolies, a festival of French-speaking song artists. During the seven-to-ten days that last each of the two festivals, shows are held in a wide variety of venues, from relatively small clubs to the large halls of Place des Arts. Some of the outdoor shows are held on cordoned-off streets while others are on terraced parks. The most popular festival, in terms of attendance, is the Just For Laughs Festival. A comedy festival held in both languages, it features comedians, humourists, and stand-ups from all over the world. The Montreal Fireworks Festival also attracts a lot of attention. On the evenings of competition, tens of thousands of people watch the fireworks for free on their roofs or from locations nearby the competition. Other festivals in Montreal include Pop Montreal, The Fringe festival and Nujaz. Annual family-oriented events promoting health and cycling are also organized in the streets of Montreal. Parades are also popular in downtown Montreal.

The city is increasingly becoming known for its mainstream rave festivals such as the Black and Blue Festival attracting thousands of ravers to the city every Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, as well as the Bal en Blanc held every Easter Sunday, also attracting over 15,000 attendees every year. (Both events are organized by Bad Boys Club Montréal, which raises money for HIV/AIDS-related causes and gay and lesbian community groups.)

Night life

A view of Saint Catherine Street

During the period of Prohibition in the United States, Montreal became well-known as one of North America's "sin cities" with unparalleled nightlife, a reputation it still holds today. In part, its bustling nightlife is attributed to its relatively late "last call" (3 a.m.), and its many restaurants and after hours clubs that stay open well on into the morning. The large university population, the drinking age of 18, and the excellent public transportation system (a network of night buses, some with service every 15 minutes, replaces the metro between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m.) combine with other aspects of the Montreal culture to make the city's night life unique.


A general view of downtown Crescent Street with Mont Royal in the background.

Crescent Street is "party central" for Montreal's Anglophone population, lying at the edge of the Concordia University campus. Throughout the summer, it features street fairs and festivals. The Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix unofficially starts off Montreal's non-stop festival season in the summer. Crescent Street also features many clubs and bars. The clientele of Crescent nightclubs and bars are mostly students, tourists and in general a younger crowd looking for exhilaration and excitement. Most venues will play Top 40 music. The nearest subway stops are Peel and Guy-Concordia.

"The Main"

Boulevard Saint-Laurent (Saint Laurent Boulevard, known locally as "The Main" or "Saint Lawrence Boulevard") is one of the best places to find nightlife, with many bars and nightclubs and a wide range of restaurants. Saint-Laurent street night spots are often less mainstream than those on Crescent street, with a great variety: from Top 40 and urban music to electronica and techno, from underground and alternative rock to live bands. South of Prince Arthur Street, toward Sherbrooke Street, one is likely to encounter a "posher" clientele. From Prince Arthur Street north (to Avenue Mont-Royal and beyond), one should expect to rub shoulders with an "edgier" crowd. The nearest subway stops are Saint-Laurent and Sherbrooke.

Sainte-Catherine Street West

Another highly notable nightlife area is Sainte-Catherine Street West between Mackay St. and Peel St. where many nightclubs, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping, and strip joints are located.


Still standing since 1866, Ogilvy's is a high fashion department store.

Saint Catherine Street and the downtown area once boasted Montreal's four prominent department stores: Eaton's, Morgan's, Ogilvy's, and Simpson's. Today, only Ogilvy's remains. However, the area remains a shopping destination, with many major retailers having large stores along the streets of downtown, including Holt Renfrew, Hudson's Bay Company, Les Ailes de la Mode, Levi's, Benetton, Zara, Crabtree & Evelyn, Chapters, Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Max Azria, Club Monaco, La Maison Simons, Archambault, fcuk, Harry Rosen Inc., La Senza, Future Shop, HMV, lululemon athletica, Parasuco and Roots. H&M is still trying to find a proper location for it flagship store downtown. Additionally, many of Montreal's most prominent shopping complexes, including the Faubourg Sainte-Catherine, the Centre Eaton, les Cours Mont-Royal (a high fashion shopping mall), the Complexe Desjardins, the Complexe Les Ailes, Place Dupuis, Place Alexis-Nihon, Westmount Square, and Place Montreal Trust all make their home along this street.

There are many other areas in the city for shopping.

See also: List of malls in Montreal

Montreal cuisine

Main article: Cuisine of Quebec

Perhaps no single contribution from the allophone communities is more perceived than in Montreal's culinary fabric. Italian, Greek, Portuguese and Jewish communities have contributed to the making up of Montreal's delicatessens and other restaurants. Jewish culinary contributions extended to two of the world-renowned smoked meat sandwiches and Montreal style bagels. Lebanese falafels and Japanese sushi have become appreciated cuisines. This wide variety of cuisines certainly participates to the fact that Montreal is one of the cities with the most restaurants in the world. Due to all of the above, Montreal and its culinary landscape was the focus of Gourmet magazines March 2006 issue. Since its existence, the magazine has focused its attention on one city in an issue only five other times. Those issues focused on Paris, Rome, San Francisco, New York and London.


A historical building which today holds the Montreal Banana Republic store.

For well over a century Montreal was the industrial centre of Canada. The variety of buildings included factories, elevators, warehouses, mills, and refineries which today provide a legacy of historic and architectural interest. Habitat 67's striking design was created by architect Moshe Safdie based on his master's thesis at McGill University and built as part of Expo 67. Today there are also many historical buildings in Old Montreal still in their original form: Notre-Dame Basilica, Hotel de Ville, Marche Bonsecours, Rue St.Jacques with 19th century impressive headquarters of all major Canadian banks and are some of the architectural landmarks of old Montreal. Stade Olympic 1976, Maison Alcan, 1000 de La Gauchetière Tower, Biodome, Jacques Cartier Bridge, Montreal World Trade Centre, Place Jean Riopelle and Square Cartier are among fine examples of 20th and 21st centuries architecture. Grocery stores built in Montreal today look more modern than most old ones. The Montreal Metro is filled with a profusion of public artwork by some of the biggest names in Quebec culture. The design and ornamentation of each metro station in Montreal is unique.


Montreal is an important centre of commerce, industry, culture, finance, and world affairs.

Tour de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Tower)

Looking up University Street

Montreal industries include aerospace, electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, printed goods, software engineering, telecommunications, textile and apparel manufacturing, tobacco and transportation. The service sector is also strong and includes civil, mechanical and process engineering, finance, higher education, and research and development. In 2002, Montreal ranked as 4th largest centre in North America in terms of aerospace jobs.[26]

Montreal is a major port city along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, a deep-draft inland waterway links it to the industrial centres of the Great Lakes. It is still the largest inland port in the world. As one of the most important ports in Canada, it remains a trans-shipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. For this reason, it is the railway hub of Canada and has always been an extremely important rail city; it is the eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway and home to the headquarters of the Canadian National Railway.

The headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency are located in Longueuil, southeast of Montreal. Montreal also hosts the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a United Nations body); the World Anti-Doping Agency (an Olympic body); the International Air Transport Association (IATA); the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda); the International Design Alliance (IDA); Gay and Lesbian International Chamber of Commerce, as well as some 60 other international organizations in various fields. It is also the leading Canadian city for its research output, fuelled in part by Montreal's four universities and numerous scientific research centres.

Place Ville-Marie

Montreal is also a centre of film and television production. The headquarters and five studios of the Academy Award-winning documentary producer National Film Board of Canada can be found here, as well as the head offices of Telefilm Canada, the national feature-length film and television funding agency. Given its eclectic architecture and broad availability of film services and crew members, Montreal is a popular filming location for feature-length films, and sometimes stands in for European locations. The city is also home to many recognized cultural, film and music festivals (Just For Laughs, Montreal Jazz Festival, e.g), which contribute significantly to its economy. It is also home to one of the world's largest cultural enterprises, the Cirque du Soleil.

The video game industry is also booming in Montreal since 1997, coinciding with the opening of Ubisoft's studio in the area. As of today (2007), the city has attracted world leading game developers and publishers studios such as Ubisoft, EA, Eidos Interactive, Artificial Mind and Movement, Strategy First and many more, mainly because video games jobs have been heavily subsidized by the provincial government. Every year, this industry is generating billions of dollars and thousands of jobs in the Montreal area.

Alcan, Bombardier, CN, CGI Group, Air Canada, CAE, Saputo, Cirque du Soleil, Quebecor, Power Corporation, Bell Canada, SNC-Lavalin, Hydro-Quebec, Abitibi-Consolidated, National Bank of Canada and many other corporations are headquartered in the Greater Montreal Area.

In 2006 Montreal was named UNESCO City of Design. One of the three design capitals of the world (with Berlin and Buenos Aires). This distinguish title recognizes Montreal's design community. Since 2005 the city is also a home for the International Design Alliance and the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda).[27]


The Montreal Canadiens win a game at the Bell Centre.

Main article: Sport in Montreal

See also: List of Montreal parks

Sports teams of Montreal Club League Sport Venue Established Championships

Montreal Canadiens NHL Hockey Bell Centre 1909 24

Montreal Alouettes CFL Football Percival Molson Memorial Stadium

Olympic Stadium

1946-87 1996-today


Montreal Impact USL Soccer Stade Saputo 1993 2

Montreal Expos MLB Baseball Olympic Stadium 1969-2005 (Now Washington Nationals) 0

Montreal Royal ABA Basketball Centre Pierre Charbonneau 2005 0

Quebec Cariboo RCSL Rugby Dollard-des-Ormeaux 1998 0

Montreal Mission NRL Ringette Various 2004 0


The biggest sport following in Montreal clearly belongs to hockey – and the city is famous for its hockey-hungry fans. The Montreal Canadiens are one of the Original Six NHL teams, and boast the greatest number of Stanley Cup championships at 24. The only other team in the four major North American sports leagues to have this many championships is the 26 titles of baseball's New York Yankees.

Auto Racing

Fans fill up the area every year for the Canadian Grand Prix

(Formula 1)

Montreal is also the site of two high-profile racing events each year: the Canadian Grand Prix, and the Champcars Series. NASCAR also made its debut on August 4, 2007 with a stop in the Busch Series. The Formula 1 and NASCAR races take place on the famous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame, where the Champcar series also raced from 2002 until 2006. Starting in 2007, the Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant took place at nearby Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

Football, baseball, soccer

The Montreal Alouettes of the CFL draw packed crowds at the small but picturesque Molson Stadium. University football receives increasing support, with the McGill Redmen, Concordia Stingers, and Université de Montréal's Carabins playing in Montreal. The city's USL First Division soccer team is called the Montreal Impact. Montreal has also been slated to have a Can-Am League team beginning in 2008. Montreal was home to the major league baseball team, the Expos, until they were relocated to Washington, DC in 2005 and re-branded themselves as the Washington Nationals.[28] They played their home games at the Olympic Stadium.


Stade Uniprix (Uniprix Stadium) was built in 1993 and is used for the annual Rogers Cup Tennis Masters tournament. The ATP men's tennis tour and the Sony Ericsson WTA women's tennis tour switch between Montreal and Toronto every year. (In 2007, the women's was played in Toronto, and the men's was played in Montreal)

Montreal Olympics

Olympic Stadium, in the city's eastern section.

Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Montreal Games were the most expensive in Olympic history, costing over $5 billion (equivalent to $20 billion in 2006); bad planning led to the Games' cost far exceeding the budget, and the city just finished paying the debt off in December 2006. For a time, it seemed that the Olympics might no longer be a viable financial proposition. There was also a boycott by African nations to protest against a recent tour of apartheid-run South Africa by a New Zealand rugby side. The Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci won the women's individual all around gold medal with two of four possible perfect scores, thus giving birth to a gymnastics dynasty in Romania. Another female gymnast to earn the perfect score and three gold medals there was Nellie Kim of the USSR.

Montreal hosted the first ever World Outgames in the summer of 2006, attracting over 16,000 participants engaged in 35 sporting activities. They were the biggest sporting event in the city since the Summer Olympics of 1976.

The Montreal games of the FIFA 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup were held at Olympic Stadium.[29]

Montreal has a well developed network of bicycle paths.[30] Bike rentals are available at the Old Port of Montreal, as well as quadricycles, inline skates, children trailers, and segways. Five beaches around the island, in addition to a network of parks that include one on the Mont Royal, offer a set of recreational activities enjoyed by the local population.


See also: Montreal roads

Montreal is a transportation hub for eastern Canada, with well-developed air, road, rail, and maritime links to the rest of Canada, as well as the United States and Europe.


Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Montreal has two international airports, one for passenger flights only, and the other for cargo. Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (formerly Dorval Airport, the name still used by locals) in the City of Dorval and in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent serves all commercial passenger traffic and is the headquarters for Air Canada and Air Transat. To the north of the city is Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, which was envisioned as Montreal's primary airport but which now serves only cargo flights. In 2006, Montreal-Trudeau was the third busiest airport in Canada. It handled 11,434,070 passengers[31] and almost 275 000 aircraft movements [32] in 2007, which ranks it 2nd only to Toronto-Pearson. Trudeau airport serves over 100 destinations worldwide making it one of the most connected airports in North America. Airlines servicing Trudeau offer flights to Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States, Mexico and other destinations within Canada. It is the only Canadian airport that offers non-stop service to Africa and it also contains the second largest duty free shop in North America.[citation needed] Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, NY bills itself as Montreal's US Airport as it is one hour drive from the city.

Other airports in the Montreal area serve military and regional use.


VIA Rail, which is headquartered in Montreal, provides several rail services to other cities in Canada, particularly to Quebec City and Toronto with several trains daily. Amtrak, the U.S. national passenger rail system also provides service to Montreal, operating its Adirondack daily between Montreal and New York City. Most trains operate out of Gare Centrale.

Montreal's McGill Metro Station.

Public local transport is served by a network of buses, subways, and commuter trains that extend across and off the island. The subway and bus system is operated by the Société de transport de Montréal. The commuter rail system is managed and operated by the Agence métropolitaine de transport, and extends across several municipalities.

Bus and Metro

The STM bus network consists of 169 daytime and 20 night-time service routes, and provides adapted transport and limited wheelchair-accessible buses.

Metropolitain entrance to Square-Victoria station by Hector Guimard.

Each station of the Montreal Metro was designed by different architects with individual themes and features original artwork, and the trains themselves run on rubber tires, making the system quieter than most. It has 68 stations spread out along four lines. It was inaugurated in 1966 and completed in time for Expo 67. The project was initiated by Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau, who also brought the Olympics to Montreal in 1976. The metro system has long had a station on the South Shore in Longueuil, and has recently been extended to the city of Laval, north of Montreal.


Like many major cities, Montreal has a problem with vehicular traffic congestion, especially from off-island suburbs such as Laval on Île Jésus, and Longueuil on the southeastern shore. The width of the Saint Lawrence River has made the construction of fixed links to the southeastern shore expensive and difficult. Accordingly, there are only four road bridges (plus one road tunnel, two railway bridges, and a metro line), whereas the far narrower Rivière des Prairies is spanned by eight road bridges (six to Laval and two to the north shore).

Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The island of Montreal is a hub for the Québec Autoroute system, and is served by Québec Autoroutes A-10 (aka the Bonaventure Expressway on the island of Montreal), A-15 (aka the Decarie Expressway south of the A-40 and the Laurentian Autoroute to the north of it), A-13 (aka Autoroute Chomedey), A-20, A-25, A-40 (part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, and known as "The Metropolitan" or simply "The Met" in its elevated mid-town section), A-520, and A-720 (aka the Ville-Marie Autoroute). Many of these Autoroutes are frequently congested at rush hour. However, in recent years, the government has acknowledged this problem and is working on long-term solutions to alleviate the congestion, such as re-routing traffic and expanding lanes. (Osirus Azer, "Montreal's Traffic Problems", 2006)

Since Montreal is on an island, the directions used in the city plan do not precisely correspond with compass directions, as they are oriented to the geography of the island. North and south are defined on an axis roughly perpendicular to the St. Lawrence River and the Rivière des Prairies: North is towards the Rivière des Prairies, and south is towards the St. Lawrence. East and west directions are defined as roughly parallel to the St. Lawrence River (which flows southwest to northeast) and the Rivière des Prairies. East is downstream, and west is upstream.

Saint Lawrence Boulevard, also known as "The Main," divides Montreal into east and west sectors. Streets that cut across Saint Laurent Boulevard undergo a name change, in that Est (East) or Ouest (West) are appended to their names. Streets that do not cross the Main do not generally contain a cardinal direction at the end of their names. Address numbering begins in either direction at one (1) at Saint Laurent Boulevard, increasing in both directions away from the boulevard. On north-south streets, house numbers begin at the Saint Lawrence River and the Lachine Canal and increase to the north. Odd numbers are on the east or north sides of the street, with even numbers on the west or south sides. Numbered streets generally run north and south, and the street numbers increase to the east.

Montreal's roads are notorious for their poor state. Avoiding potholes has become a way of life for Montreal drivers.

Further information: List of bridges in Montreal


Main article: Education in Montreal

Université de Montréal, Roger-Gaudry pavilion

McGill University, Arts Building

McGill Student Housing on University street.

With access to six universities and twelve junior colleges in an 8 kilometre (5 mi) radius, Montreal has the highest concentration of post-secondary students of all major cities in North America (4.8 students per 100 residents, followed by Boston at 4.7 students per 100 residents).

English-language elementary and secondary public schools in the Greater Metropolitan Montréal Area are operated by the English Montreal School Board[33] and the Lester B. Pearson School Board.[34] French-language elementary and secondary public schools in Montreal are operated by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM),[35] Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB)[36] and the Commission scolaire Pointe-de-l'Île (CSPI).[37]

The education system in the province of Quebec is slightly different from other systems in North America. Between the High School and University levels, there is an additional college level called "CEGEP". It is at the same time a preparatory school (preparing students for admission at the University) and a technical school (offering courses which lead to technical diplomas and specializations). In Montréal, 17 CEGEPs offer courses in French and 5 in English.

See also: List of CEGEPs

Francophone universities

* Université de Montréal, includes:

o École Polytechnique de Montréal

o HEC Montréal - École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal

* Université du Québec, includes:

o Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM)

o École de technologie supérieure (ETS)

o École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP)

o Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)

o Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ)[38]

* Université de Sherbrooke (Located in Sherbrooke, campus in Longueuil)

* Université Laval (Located in Québec, campus in Longueuil)

English-language universities

* McGill University, includes:

o Desautels Faculty of Management

o Schulich School of Music

* Concordia University, includes:

o John Molson School of Business (JMSB)

Places in Montreal

Main article: Places in Montreal

Evening skyline

Place dArmes and Cathedral Notre Dame in winter

Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal lies at the foot of Mount Royal, much of which is a major urban park, and extends toward the St Lawrence River. The Downtown area contains dozens of notable skyscrapers — which, bylaws restrict to the height of Mount Royal — including the aforementioned 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. The Tour de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Tower) is also another significant building in Montreal, and is home to the Montreal Exchange, which trades in derivatives such as futures contracts and options. The Montreal Exchange was the first stock exchange in Canada. In 1999 all stock trades were transferred to Toronto in exchange for exclusivity in derivatives trading.

Place Ville-Marie, an I. M. Pei-designed cruciform office tower built in 1962, sits atop an underground shopping mall that forms the nexus of Montreal's underground city, the world's largest, with indoor access to over 1,600 shops, restaurants, offices, businesses, museums and universities, as well as metro stations, train stations, bus terminals, and tunnels extending all over downtown. The central axis for downtown is Saint Catherine Street, Canada's busiest commercial artery. Other major streets include Sherbrooke, René-Lévesque, Peel, de la Montagne, de Maisonneuve and Crescent. The Montreal Skyline panorama includes two islands, Île Ste. Hélène and Ile Notre-Dame. The Notre Dame island hosts the Canadian Grand Prix and Formula One car races, as well as the Champ Car tournament. La Ronde is the biggest amusement park in Montreal and is located on Île Ste. Hélène. The Montreal Fireworks Festival is held there every summer.

The Ville-Marie borough is arguably the heart and soul of the metropolis. Its vitality is extraordinary and it is constantly bubbling over with arts, culture, recreational and business activities. Ville Marie sector is composed of downtown financial hub, vieux port, square cartier residential district, quartier international, le village and quartier Latin.

The basic Skyline view may be seen from one of two lookouts on Mount Royal. The lookout at the Belevedere takes in downtown, the river, and the Montérégien Hills, and on clear days the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York or the Green Mountains of Vermont are visible. The view of eastern lookout on Remembrance Rd. sweeps out toward the Olympic Stadium, and beyond. Many tourists visit these lookouts.

Underground City

Halles de la gare, going from Gare centrale to Place Ville-Marie

Main article: Underground city, Montreal

Extending all over downtown is Montreal's Underground City (French: La ville souterraine), a set of pedestrian levels built to cross under streets, thereby connecting buildings to each other. It is also known as the indoor city (ville intérieure), as not all of it is underground. The connections are considered tunnels architecturally and technically, but have conditioned air and good lighting as any building's liveable space does. Many tunnels are large enough to have shops on both sides of the passage. With over 32 kilometres (20 mi) of tunnels spread over more than twelve square kilometres (5 sq mi), connected areas include shopping malls, hotels, banks, offices, museums, universities, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, a regional bus terminal and the Bell Centre amphitheatre and arena. There are more than 120 exterior access points to the underground city. Each access point is an entry point to one of 60 residential or commercial complexes comprising 3.6 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi) of floor space, including 80% of all office space and 35% of all commercial space in downtown Montreal. In winter, some 500,000 people use the underground city every day. Because of its Underground City, Montreal is often referred to as "Two Cities in One."

Mount Royal

A panorama taken from the Chalet du Mont Royal at the top of Mount Royal.

The mountain is the site of Mount Royal Park (officially Parc du Mont-Royal), one of Montreal's largest greenspaces. The park, most of which is wooded, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central Park, and inaugurated in 1876.

Another panoramic photograph from the top of Mount Royal, in the daytime.

The park contains two belvederes, the more prominent of which is the Kondiaronk Belvedere, a semicircular plaza with a chalet, overlooking downtown Montreal. Other features of the park are Beaver Lake, a small man-made lake; a short ski slope; a sculpture garden; Smith House, an interpretive centre; and a well-known monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier. The park hosts athletic, tourist, and cultural activities.

The mountain is also home to two major cemeteries, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (founded in 1854) and Mount Royal (1852). Mount Royal Cemetery is a 165 acre (668,000 m²) terraced cemetery on the north slope of Mount Royal in the borough of Outremont. Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is much larger, predominantly French-Canadian and officially Catholic[39]. More than 900,000 people are buried there.

Mount Royal Cemetery contains more than 162,000 graves and is the final resting place for a number of notable Canadians. It includes a veterans section with several soldiers who were awarded the British Empire's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross. In 1901 the Mount Royal Cemetery Company established the first crematorium in Canada.

The name of the city of Montreal derives from mont Réal, an orthographic variant introduced either in French, or by an Italian map maker ("Mount Royal" is monte Reale in Italian). The name had been unofficially applied to the city, formerly Ville-Marie, by the 18th century.

Cross on top of Mount Royal, at night

The first cross on the mountain was placed there in 1643 by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city, in fulfilment of a vow he made to the Virgin Mary when praying to her to stop a disastrous flood. Today, the mountain is crowned by a 31.4 m (103 ft) high illuminated cross, installed in 1924 by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and now owned by the city. It was converted to fibre-optic light in 1992. The new system can turn the lights red, blue, or purple, the last of which is used as a sign of mourning between the death of the Pope and the election of the next. (This operation was previously accomplished by changing all the light bulbs.)

Old Montreal

A street in Old Montreal.

Just southeast of downtown is Old Montreal (French: Vieux-Montréal), a historic area with such attractions as the Old Port, Place Jacques-Cartier, City Hall, the Marché Bonsecours, Place d'Armes, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, and the Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica.

Montreal is known for contrast between old and new architecture. Architecture and cobbled streets in Old Montreal have been maintained or restored to keep the look of the city in its earliest days as a settlement, and horse-drawn calèches help maintain that image. Old Montreal is accessible from the downtown core via the underground city and is served by several STM bus routes and metro stations, ferries to the South Shore and a network of bicycle paths.

Old Montreal was a worldwide port, but shipping has been moved further east to the Port de Montreal site, leaving the Old Port/Vieux-Port as an historical area. The riverside area of Old Port (French: Vieux-Port), adjacent to Old Montreal, is now a recreational and historical area maintained by Parks Canada.

Religious sanctuaries

Saint Joseph's Oratory is the largest church in Canada.

Nicknamed "la ville aux cent clochers" (the city of a hundred belltowers), Montreal is renowned for its churches. As described by Mark Twain, "This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window." The city has four Roman Catholic basilicas: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, the aforementioned Notre-Dame Basilica, St. Patrick's Basilica, and Saint Joseph's Oratory. The Oratory is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Other well-known churches include the pilgrimage church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours, which is sometimes called the Sailors' Church, and the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, which was completely excavated and suspended above an excavated pit during the construction of part of the Underground City. All of the above are major tourist destinations, particularly Notre-Dame and the Oratory.

An impressive number of other churches, synagogues and mosques can be found, and church steeples are a familiar view all over the city and island.

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