Montreal
City
Ville de Montréal
From top to bottom, left to right: Downtown Montreal, Notre-Dame Basilica, Olympic Stadium, McGill University, Old Montreal featuring the Clock Tower and Jacques Cartier Bridge at the Fireworks Festival, Saint Joseph's Oratory
From top to bottom, left to right: Downtown Montreal, Notre-Dame Basilica, Olympic Stadium, McGill University, Old Montreal featuring the Clock Tower and Jacques Cartier Bridge at the Fireworks Festival, Saint Joseph's Oratory
Flag of Montreal
Flag
Coat of arms of Montreal
Coat of arms
Official logo of Montreal
Logo
Motto: Concordia Salus ("Well-being Through Harmony")
Country  Canada
Province  Quebec
Region Montreal
Indigenous territories Great Peace of Montreal
UA Urban agglomeration of Montreal
Founded May 17, 1642
Incorporated 1832
Constituted January 1, 2002
Boroughs
Government
 • Type Montreal City Council
 • Mayor Denis Coderre
 • Federal riding
 • Prov. riding
 • MPs
Area
 • City 431.50 km2 (166.60 sq mi)
 • Land 365.65 km2 (141.18 sq mi)
 • Urban 1,545.30 km2 (596.64 sq mi)
 • Metro 4,604.26 km2 (1,777.71 sq mi)
Highest elevation 233 m (764 ft)
Lowest elevation 6 m (20 ft)
Population (2016)
 • City 1,704,694
 • Density 4,662.1/km2 (12,075/sq mi)
 • Urban 4,098,927
 • Urban density 2,205.4/km2 (5,712/sq mi)
 • Metro 4,098,927 (2nd)
 • Metro density 890.2/km2 (2,306/sq mi)
 • Pop 2011–2016 Increase 3.3%
 • Dwellings 843,872
Demonym(s) Montrealer
Montréalais(e)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code(s) H (except H7 for Laval)
Area code(s) 514 and 438
GDP US$ 155.9 billion
GDP per capita US$ 38,867
Website ville.montreal.qc.ca

Montreal (Listeni/ˌmʌntrˈɒl/;), officially Montréal (French pronunciation: [mɔ̃ʁeal]) is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the 2nd-most populous in Canada as a whole. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary," it is believed to be named after Mount Royal, though there is some debate about this. The city occupies most of the Island of Montreal as well as many smaller peripheral islands, most significantly Île Bizard. The city has a distinct four-season continental climate, with warm-to-hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

In 2016, Montreal had a population of 1,704,694. Montreal's metropolitan area had a population of 4,098,927 and a population of 1,958,257 in the urban agglomeration, with all of the municipalities on the Island of Montreal included. Legally a French-speaking city, 60.5% of Montrealers speak French at home, 21.2% speak English and 19.8% speak neither. Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada, with 56% of the population able to speak both official languages. Montreal is the second-largest primarily French-speaking city in the world after Paris.

Historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population and economic strength by Toronto in the 1970s. It remains an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, education, culture, tourism, gaming, film and world affairs. Being the location of the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Montreal is one of three North American cities home to organizations of the United Nations (along with New York and Washington) and also has the 2nd-highest number of consulates in the continent. Montreal was also named a UNESCO City of Design. In 2009, Montreal was named North America's leading host city for international association events, according to the 2009 preliminary rankings of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). According to the 2015 Global Liveability Ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Montreal ranked 14th out of 140 cities.

In the 2017 edition of their Best Student Cities ranking, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranked Montreal as the world's best city to study abroad. Also, Montreal has 11 universities with 170,000 students enrolled. The Greater Montréal region has the highest number of university students per capita among all metropolitan areas in North America. It even ranks higher than Boston, the intellectual capital of the U.S.

Montreal has hosted multiple international conferences and events throughout its history, including the 1967 International and Universal Exposition and the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. It is the only Canadian city to have held the Summer Olympics. Currently, the city hosts the Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs festival. In 2012, Montreal was ranked as a Beta+ world city.

Name

In Kanien’kéha, or Mohawk language, the island is called Tiohtià:ke Tsi (a name referring to the Lachine Rapids to the island's southwest) or Ka-wé-no-te. In Anishinaabemowin, or Ojibwe language, the land is called Mooniyaang ("the first stopping place"), part of the Seven Fires Prophecy.

Though the city was first named by French colonizers Ville Marie, or "City of Mary," its current name comes from Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The most popular theory is that the name derives from Mont Réal, (Mont Royal in modern French, although in 16th-century France the terms réal and royal were used interchangeably); Cartier's 1535 diary entry, naming the mountain, refers to "le mont Royal". Another theory is that the name was adopted as it is written nowadays because an early map of 1556 used the Italian name of the mountain, "Monte Real", but this has been dismissed by the Commission de toponymie du Québec.

According to the Commission de toponymie du Québec and the Geographical Names Board of Canada, Canadian place names have only one official form. Thus, Montreal is officially spelled with an acute accent over the "e" (Montréal) in both English and French. In practice, this is mostly limited to governmental uses. English-speaking Montrealers, including English-language media, regularly omit the accent when writing in English.

History

See also: Timeline of Montreal history

Pre-European contact

Archaeological evidence demonstrates that First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal as early as 4,000 years ago. By the year AD 1000, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages. The Saint Lawrence Iroquoians, an ethnicity distinct from the Iroquois nations of the Haudenosaunee then based in present-day New York, established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal two centuries before the French arrived. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation there and at other locations in the valley since at least the 14th century. The French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, and estimated the population of the native people at Hochelaga to be "over a thousand people".

La Place Royale

Seventy years later, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain reported that the St Lawrence Iroquoians and their settlements had disappeared altogether from the St Lawrence valley. This is believed to be due to outmigration, epidemics of European diseases, or intertribal wars. In 1611 Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal, on a site initially named La Place Royale. At the confluence of Petite Riviere and St. Lawrence River, it is where present-day Pointe-à-Callière stands. On his 1616 map, Samuel de Champlain named the island Lille de Villemenon, in honour of the sieur de Villemenon, a French dignitary who was seeking the viceroyship of New France. In 1639 Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Notre Dame Society of Montreal to establish a Roman Catholic mission to evangelize natives.

Ville Marie

Dauversiere hired Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, then 30, to lead a group of colonists to build a mission on his new seigneury. The colonists left France in 1641 for Quebec, and arrived on the island the following year. On May 17, 1642, Ville-Marie was founded on the southern shore of Montreal island, with Maisonneuve as its first governor. The settlement included a chapel and a hospital, under the command of Jeanne Mance. By 1643, Ville-Marie had already been attacked by Iroquois raids. In the spring of 1651, the Iroquois attacks became so frequent and so violent that Ville Marie thought its end had come. Maisonneuve made all the settlers take refuge in the fort. By 1652 the colony at Montreal had been so reduced that he was forced to return to France to raise 100 volunteers to go with him to the colony the following year. If the effort had failed, Montreal was to be abandoned and the survivors re-located downriver to Quebec City. Before these 100 arrived in the fall of 1653, the population of Montreal was barely 50 people.

By 1685 Ville Marie was home to some 600 colonists, most of them living in modest wooden houses. Ville Marie became a centre for the fur trade and a base for further exploration. In 1689 the English-allied Iroquois attacked Lachine on the Island of Montreal, committing the worst massacre in the history of New France. By the early 18th century, the Sulpician Order was established there. To encourage French settlement, they wanted the Mohawk to move away from the fur trading post at Ville Marie. They had a mission village, known as Kahnewake, south of the St Lawrence River. The fathers persuaded some Mohawk to make a new settlement at their former hunting grounds north of the Ottawa River. This became Kanesatake. In 1745 several Mohawk families moved upriver to create another settlement, known as Akwesasne. All three are now Mohawk reserves in Canada. The Canadian territory was ruled as a French colony until 1760, when it was surrendered to Great Britain after the Seven Years' War.

Ville Marie was the name for the settlement that appeared in all official documents until 1705, when Montreal appeared for the first time, although people referred to the "Island of Montreal" long before then.

Modern history

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. The leaders of Montreal's business community had started to build their homes in the Golden Square Mile (~2.6 km2) from about 1850. By 1860, it was the largest municipality in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.

Ice pile in Front of the Market Building, Montreal, Quebec
Ice pile in Front of the Market Building, Montreal, Quebec, c. 1854.
Bird's eye view of Montreal 1889
The Montreal Harbour in 1889.

In the 19th century maintaining Montreal's drinking water became increasingly difficult with the rapid increase in population. A majority of the drinking water was still coming from the city's harbor, which was busy and heavily trafficked leading to the deterioration of the water within. In the mid 1840s the City of Montreal installed a water system that would pump water from the St. Lawrence and into cisterns. The cisterns would then be transported to the desired location. This was not the first water system of its type in Montreal as there had been one in private ownership since 1801. In the middle of the 19th century water distribution was carried out by "fontainiers." The fountainiers would open and close water valves outside of buildings, as directed, all over the city. As they lacked modern plumbing systems it was impossible to connect all buildings at once and it also acted as a conservation method. The population was not finished rising yet however, from 58,000 in 1852 it rose to 267,000 by 1901.

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 the passage of the Rebellion Losses Bill. For strategic reasons, Queen Victoria herself established Ottawa as the capital. The reasons were twofold; as it was located more in the interior of the nation, it was less susceptible to US attack. Perhaps more importantly, as it lay on the border between French and English Canada, the then small town of Ottawa was seen as a compromise between Montreal, Toronto, Kingston and Quebec City, who were all vying to become the young nation's official capital.

St.JamesSt.-Montreal -1910
Saint Jacques Street (formerly St. James Street), in 1910

An internment camp was set up at Immigration Hall in Montreal from August 1914 to November 1918.

After World War I, the prohibition movement in the United States led to Montreal becoming a destination for Americans looking for alcohol. Unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.

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. The Government, part of the Allied forces, was furious over Houde's stand and held him at a prison camp until 1944. That year the government decided to institute conscription to expand the armed forces and fight the Nazis. (See Conscription Crisis of 1944.)

Montreal was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family in exile during World War II.

By 1951 Montreal's population had surpassed one million. However, Toronto's growth had begun challenging Montreal's status as the economic capital of Canada. Indeed, the volume of stocks traded at the Toronto Stock Exchange had already surpassed that traded at the Montreal Stock Exchange in the 1940s. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, allowing vessels to bypass Montreal. In time this development led to the end of the city's economic dominance as businesses moved to other areas. During the 1960s there was continued growth, including the World's Fair known as Expo 67, and the construction of Canada's tallest skyscrapers, new expressways and the subway system known as the Montreal Metro.

The 1970s ushered in a period of wide-ranging social and political changes, stemming largely from the concerns of the French speaking 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 1976 election of the Parti Québécois, supporting sovereign status for Quebec, resulted in the departure of many businesses and people from the city. In 1976 Montreal was the host of the Olympics. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Montreal experienced a slower rate of economic growth than many other major Canadian cities.

Montreal was merged with the 27 surrounding municipalities on the Island of Montreal on January 1, 2002, creating a unified city covering the entire island. There was great resistance from the suburbs to the merger, with the perception being that it was forced on the mostly English suburbs by the Parti Québécois. As expected, this move proved unpopular and several mergers were later rescinded. Several former municipalities, totalling 13% of the population of the island, voted to leave the unified city in separate referendums in June 2004. The demerger took place on January 1, 2006, leaving 15 municipalities on the island, including Montreal. De-merged municipalities remain affiliated with the city through an agglomeration council that collects taxes from them to pay for numerous shared services. The 2002 mergers were not the first in the city's history. Montreal annexed 27 other cities, towns, and villages beginning with Hochelaga in 1883 with the last prior to 2002 being Pointe-aux-Trembles in 1982.

The 21st century has brought with it a revival of the city's economic and cultural landscape. The construction of new residential skyscrapers, two super-hospitals (the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal and McGill University Health Centre), the creation of the Quartier des Spectacles, reconstruction of the Turcot Interchange, reconfiguration of the Decarie and Dorval interchanges, construction of the new Réseau électrique métropolitain, gentrification of Griffintown, subway line extensions and the purchase of new subway cars, the complete revitalization and expansion of Trudeau International Airport, the completion of Quebec Autoroute 30, the reconstruction of the Champlain Bridge, and the construction of a new toll bridge to Laval are helping Montreal continue to grow.

Geography

Montreal is in the southwest of the province of Quebec. The city covers most of 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, the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. Montreal is defined by its location between the Saint Lawrence river to its south and the Rivière des Prairies to its north. The city is named after the most prominent geographical feature on the island, a three-head hill called Mount Royal, topped at 232 metres (761 feet) above sea level.

Montreal is at the centre of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, and is bordered by the city of Laval to the north; Longueuil, Saint-Lambert, Brossard, and other municipalities to the south; Repentigny to the east and the West Island municipalities to the west. The anglophone enclaves of Westmount, Montreal West, Hampstead, Côte Saint-Luc, the Town of Mount Royal and the francophone enclave Montreal East are all surrounded by Montreal.

Climate

Marché Bonsecours and Foliage
Bonsecours Market in autumn.

Montreal is classified as a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfa/Dfb).

Summers are, on the whole, warm and humid with a daily maximum average of 26 to 27 °C (79 to 81 °F) in July; temperatures in excess of 30 °C (86 °F) are common. Conversely, cold fronts can bring crisp, drier and windy weather in the early and later parts of summer.

Winter brings cold, snowy, windy, and, at times, icy weather, with a daily average ranging from −9 to −10.5 °C (16 to 13 °F) in January. However, some winter days rise above freezing, allowing for rain on an average of 4 days in January and February each. Usually, snow covering some or all bare ground lasts on average from the first or second week of December until the last week of March. While the air temperature does not fall below −30 °C (−22 °F) every year, the wind chill often makes the temperature feel this low to exposed skin.

Spring and fall are pleasantly mild but prone to drastic temperature changes; spring even more so than fall. Late season heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are possible. Early and late season snow storms can occur in November and March, and more rarely in April. Montreal is generally snow free from April 15 to November 15.

The lowest temperature in Environment Canada's books was −37.8 °C (−36 °F) on January 15, 1957, and the highest temperature was 37.6 °C (100 °F) on August 1, 1975, both at Dorval International Airport.

Before modern weather record keeping (which dates back to 1871 for McGill), a minimum temperature almost 5 degrees lower was recorded at 7 a.m. on January 10, 1859, where it registered at −42 °C (−44 °F).

Annual precipitation is around 1,000 mm (39 in), including an average of about 210 cm (83 in) of snowfall, which occurs from November through March. Thunderstorms are common in the period beginning in late spring through summer to early fall; additionally, tropical storms or their remnants can cause heavy rains and gales. Montreal averages 2,050 hours of sunshine annually, with summer being the sunniest season, though slightly wetter than the others in terms of total precipitation—mostly from thunderstorms.

Architecture

Place Jacques-Cartier Montreal 2012-05-01
Place Jacques Cartier
Montreal NDame1 tango7174
View of the Basilica from Place d'Armes
StLouissquarehomes
Italianate, 2nd Empire Homes on Saint Louis Square in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

For over a century and a half, Montreal was the industrial and financial centre of Canada. This legacy has left a variety of buildings including factories, elevators, warehouses, mills, and refineries, that today provide an invaluable insight into the city's history, especially in the downtown area and the Old Port area. There are 50 National Historic Sites of Canada, more than any other city.

OlympicStadium
Olympic Stadium, seen next to the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Some of the city's earliest still-standing buildings date back to the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Although most are clustered around the Old Montreal area, such as the Sulpician Seminary adjacent to Notre Dame Basilica that dates back to 1687, and Château Ramezay, which was built in 1705, examples of early colonial architecture are dotted throughout the city. Situated in Lachine, the Le Ber-Le Moyne House is the oldest complete building in the city. In Point St. Charles visitors can see the Maison Saint-Gabriel, which can trace its history back to 1698. There are many historic buildings in Old Montreal in their original form: Notre Dame of Montreal Basilica, Bonsecours Market, and the 19th‑century headquarters of all major Canadian banks on St. James Street (French: Rue Saint Jacques). Montreal's earliest buildings are characterized by their uniquely French influence and grey stone construction.

Saint Joseph's Oratory, completed in 1967, Ernest Cormier's Art Deco Université de Montréal main building, the landmark Place Ville Marie office tower, the controversial Olympic Stadium and surrounding structures, are but a few notable examples of the city's 20th-century architecture. Pavilions designed for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, popularly known as Expo 67, featured a wide range of architectural designs. Though most pavilions were temporary structures, several have become landmarks, including Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome U.S. Pavilion, now the Montreal Biosphere, and Moshe Safdie's striking Habitat 67 apartment complex.

The Montreal Metro has public artwork by some of the biggest names in Quebec culture.

In 2006 Montreal was named a UNESCO City of Design, only one of three design capitals of the world (the others being Berlin and Buenos Aires). This distinguished title recognizes Montreal's design community. Since 2005 the city has been home for the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda); the International Design Alliance (IDA).

The Underground City (officially RESO) is an important tourist attraction. It is the set of interconnected shopping complexes (both above and below ground). This impressive network connects pedestrian thoroughfares to universities, as well as hotels, restaurants, bistros, subway stations and more, in and around downtown with 32 kilometres (20 miles) of tunnels over twelve square kilometres (4.6 square miles) of the most densely populated part of Montreal.

Neighbourhoods

Rue Ste Catherine
A view of Saint Catherine Street in Downtown Montreal.
Montreal Chinatown gate
Entrance gate to Montreal's Chinatown on Saint Laurent Boulevard.

The city is composed of 19 large boroughs, subdivided into neighbourhoods. The boroughs are: Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grace, The Plateau Mount Royal, Outremont and Ville Marie in the centre; Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension in the east; Anjou, Montréal-Nord, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles and Saint-Leonard in the northeast; Ahuntsic-Cartierville, L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Saint-Laurent in the northwest; and Lachine, LaSalle, The South West and Verdun in the south.

Many of these boroughs were independent cities that were forced to be merged with Montreal in January 2002 following the 2002 Municipal Reorganization of Montreal.

The borough with the most neighbourhoods is Ville Marie, which includes downtown, the historical district of Old Montreal, Chinatown, the Gay Village, the Latin Quarter, the gentrified Quartier international and Cité Multimédia as well as the Quartier des Spectacles which is under development. Other neighbourhoods of interest in the borough include the affluent Golden Square Mile neighbourhood at the foot of Mount Royal and the Shaughnessy Village/Concordia U area home to thousands of students at Concordia University. The borough also comprises most of Mount Royal Park, Saint Helen's Island, and Notre-Dame Island.

The Plateau Mount Royal borough was a working class francophone area. The largest neighbourhood is the Plateau (not to be confused with the whole borough), which is undergoing considerable gentrification, and a 2001 study deemed it as Canada's most creative neighbourhood because artists comprise 8% of its labour force. The neighbourhood of Mile End in the northwestern part of the borough, has been a very multicultural area of the city, and features two of Montreal's well-known bagel establishments, St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel. The McGill Ghetto is in the extreme southwestern portion of the borough, its name being derived from the fact that it is home to thousands of McGill University students and faculty members.

The South West borough was home to much of the city's industry during the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century. The borough included Goose Village and is home to the traditionally working-class Irish neighbourhoods of Griffintown and Point Saint Charles as well as the low-income neighbourhoods of Saint Henri and Little Burgundy.

Other notable neighbourhoods include the multicultural areas of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Côte-des-Neiges in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough, and Little Italy in the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, home of the Olympic Stadium in the borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal is a historic area southeast of downtown containing many attractions such as the Old Port of Montreal, Place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal City Hall, the Bonsecours Market, Place d'Armes, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, the Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, and the Montreal Science Centre.

Architecture and cobbled streets in Old Montreal have been maintained or restored and are frequented by horse-drawn buggies carrying tourists. 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.

The riverside area adjacent to Old Montreal is known as the Old Port. The Old Port was the site of the Port of Montreal, but its shipping operations have been moved to a larger site downstream, leaving the former location as a recreational and historical area maintained by Parks Canada. The new Port of Montreal is Canada's largest container port and the largest inland port on Earth.

Mount Royal

Lac-aux-castors
Beaver Lake on Mount Royal.
City Views. View from Mt. Royal BAnQ P48S1P03519
General view of the city of Montreal taken from the promontory of Mount Royal in 1939

The mountain is the site of Mount Royal Park, 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 was inaugurated in 1876.

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 home to two major cemeteries, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (founded in 1854) and Mount Royal (1852). Mount Royal Cemetery is a 165 acres (67 ha) terraced cemetery on the north slope of Mount Royal in the borough of Outremont. Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery is much larger, predominantly French-Canadian and officially Catholic. 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.

View of Montreal in winter from Mount Royal
View of Montreal from Mount Royal in 2015

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-high (103 ft) illuminated cross, installed in 1924 by the John the Baptist Society 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.

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1871 141,276 —    
1881 189,168 +33.9%
1891 271,352 +43.4%
1901 347,817 +28.2%
1911 533,341 +53.3%
1921 693,225 +30.0%
1931 959,198 +38.4%
1941 1,064,653 +11.0%
1951 1,247,647 +17.2%
1956 1,402,704 +12.4%
1961 1,607,601 +14.6%
1966 1,750,969 +8.9%
1971 1,765,553 +0.8%
1976 1,664,527 −5.7%
1981 1,554,761 −6.6%
1986 1,541,251 −0.9%
1991 1,553,356 +0.8%
1996 1,550,369 −0.2%
2001 1,583,590 +2.1%
2006 1,620,639 +2.3%
2011 1,649,519 +1.8%
2014 est. 1,731,245 +5.0%
Based on current city limits.

According to Statistics Canada, at the 2006 Canadian census the city had 1,620,693 inhabitants. A total of 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. In the 2006 census, children under 14 years of age (621,695) constituted 17.1%, while inhabitants over 65 years of age (495,685) numbered 13.6% of the total population.

People of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups. The largest reported European ethnicities in the 2006 census were French 23%, Italians 10%, Irish 5%, English 4%, Scottish 3%, and Spanish 2%. Some 26% of the population of Montreal and 16.5% that of Greater Montreal, are members of a visible minority (non-white) group, up from 5.2% in 1981.

Visible minorities comprised 31.7% of the population in the 2011 census. The five most numerous visible minorities are Blacks (9.1%), Arabs (6.4%), Latin Americans (4.2%), South Asians (3.3%), and Chinese (2.9%). Visible minorities are defined by the Canadian Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginals, who are non-white in colour".

Canada Census Mother Tongue - Island of Montreal
Census Total
French
English
French & English
Other
Year Responses Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop %
2011
1,862,195
874,435 Decrease 1.74% 46.96% 309,885 Increase 1.08% 16.64% 21,720 Increase 44.8% 1.17% 601,615 Decrease 1.75% 32.30%
2006
1,823,905
889,960 Decrease 4% 48.79% 306,560 Increase 2.23% 16.8% 15,000 Decrease 13.91% 0.082% 612,385 Increase 12.77% 33.57%
2001
1,812,750
927,280 Increase 1.42% 51.41% 299,705 Decrease 4.71% 16.53% 17,425 Increase 0.023% 0.966% 543,075 Increase 16.05% 30.1%
1996
1,749,515
914,305 n/a 52.26% 314,520 n/a 17.98% 17,385 n/a 0.99% 467,960 n/a 26.75%

In 2009, the Greater Montreal Area was estimated to number 3.86 million people; by 2015, its population was estimated to have reached 4,060,700. According to StatsCan, by 2030, the Greater Montreal Area is expected to have a population of 5,275,000 with 1,722,000 being visible minorities.

Vieux-Port de Montreal 12
Old Port and view of the Jacques Cartier Bridge

In terms of mother language (first language learned), the 2006 census reported that in the Greater Montreal Area, 66.5% spoke French as a first language, followed by English at 13.2%, while 0.8% spoke both as a first language. The remaining 22.5% of Montreal-area residents are allophones, speaking languages including Italian (3.5%), Arabic (3.1%), Spanish (2.6%), Creole (1.3%), Chinese (1.2%), Greek (1.2%), Portuguese (0.8%), Romanian (0.7%), Vietnamese (0.7%), and Russian (0.5%). In terms of additional languages spoken, a unique feature of Montreal among Canadian cities, noted by Statistics Canada, is the working knowledge of both French and English possessed by most of its residents.

The Greater Montreal Area is predominantly Roman Catholic; however, weekly attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada. 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 65.8% of the total population is Christian, largely Roman Catholic (52.8%), primarily because of descendants of original French settlers, and others of Italian and Irish origins. Protestants which include Anglican Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Lutheran, owing to British and German immigration, and other denominations number 5.90%, with a further 3.7% consisting mostly of Orthodox Christians, fuelled by a large Greek population. There is also a number of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox parishes. Islam is the largest non-Christian religious group, with 154,540 members, the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada at 9.6%. The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 90,780. In cities such as Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority, or a substantial part of the population. As recently as 1971 the Jewish community in Greater Montreal was as high as 109,480. Political and economic uncertainties led many to leave Montreal and the province of Quebec.

The religious breakdown of the population of Montreal is:

  • Christian: 65.8%
  • No religion: 18.14%
  • Muslim: 9.6%
  • Jewish: 2.2%
  • Buddhist: 2.0%
  • Hindu: 1.4%
  • Sikh: 0.03%
  • Other religions: 0.3%

Culture

PlaceDArmes by Msteckiw
Place d'Armes in Montreal, historic heart of French Canada
Place des Arts 15
Place des Arts
Smog Montréal
Olympic Stadium in Montreal, featuring the tallest leaning tower in the world at 175.5 m (576 ft)
Casino de Montréal 2
Casino de Montréal

Montreal was referred to as "Canada's Cultural Capital" by Monocle magazine. The city is Canada's centre for French-language television productions, radio, theatre, film, multimedia, and print publishing. Montreal's many cultural communities have given it a distinct local culture.

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Montreal has a strong industrial past, an important part of its culture.

As a North American city, Montreal shares many cultural characteristics with the rest of the continent. It has a tradition of producing both jazz and rock music. The city has also produced much talent in the fields of visual arts, theatre, music, and dance. Yet, being at the confluence of the French and the English traditions, Montreal has developed a unique and distinguished cultural face. Another distinctive characteristic of cultural life is the animation of its downtown, particularly during summer, prompted by cultural and social events, particularly festivals. The city's largest festival is the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which is the largest jazz festival in the world. Other popular festivals include the Just for Laughs (largest comedy festival in the world), Montreal World Film Festival, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, Nuits d'Afrique, Pop Montreal, Divers/Cité, Fierté Montréal and the Montreal Fireworks Festival. There are many smaller festivals, totalling over 100 each year in Montreal.

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

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 square in the eastern portion of downtown. Place des Arts has the headquarters of one of the world's foremost orchestras, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and the chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal are two other well-regarded Montreal orchestras. Also performing at Place des Arts are the Opéra de Montréal and the city's chief ballet company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Internationally recognized avant-garde dance troupes such as Compagnie Marie Chouinard, 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 unique choreography of these troupes has paved the way for the success of the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil.

Nicknamed la ville aux cent clochers (the city of a hundred steeples), Montreal is renowned for its churches. As Mark Twain noted, "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 second largest copper dome in the world, after Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Transportation

Jacques Cartier Bridge 2
Jacques Cartier Bridge

Like many major cities, Montreal has a problem with vehicular traffic congestion. Commuting traffic from the cities and towns in the West Island (such as Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Pointe-Claire) is compounded by commuters entering the city that use twenty-four road crossings from numerous off-island suburbs on the North and South Shores. The width of the Saint Lawrence River has made the construction of fixed links to the south shore expensive and difficult. There are presently four road bridges (including two of the country's busiest) along with one bridge-tunnel, two railway bridges, and a Metro line. The far narrower Rivière des Prairies to the city's north, separating Montreal from Laval, is spanned by nine road bridges (seven to the city of Laval and two that span directly to the north shore) and a Metro line.

The island of Montreal is a hub for the Quebec Autoroute system, and is served by Quebec Autoroutes A-10 (known as the Bonaventure Expressway on the island of Montreal), A-15 (a.k.a. the Decarie Expressway south of the A-40 and the Laurentian Autoroute to the north of it), A-13 (a.k.a. Chomedey Autoroute), 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 (a.k.a. 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. One such example is the extension of Quebec Autoroute 30 on Montreal's south shore, which will serve as a bypass.

Société de transport de Montréal

Métro Acadie
Acadie Metro station.
Metrosquarevic
One of the entrances to the Square-Victoria-OACI Metro station looks like a Paris Métro station. This original Hector Guimard gate was a gift from the city of Paris.

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 are operated by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). The STM bus network consists of 197 daytime and 20 nighttime routes. STM bus routes serve 1,347,900 passengers on an average weekday in 2010. It also provides adapted transport and wheelchair-accessible buses. The STM won the award of Outstanding Public Transit System in North America by the APTA in 2010. It was the first time a Canadian company won this prize.

The Metro was inaugurated in 1966 and has 68 stations on four lines. It is Canada's busiest subway system in total daily passenger usage, serving 1,050,800 passengers on an average weekday (as of Q1 2010). Each station was designed by different architects with individual themes and features original artwork, and the trains run on rubber tires, making the system quieter than most. The project was initiated by Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau, who later brought the Summer Olympic Games to Montreal in 1976. The Metro system has long had a station on the South Shore in Longueuil, and in 2007 was extended to the city of Laval, north of Montreal, with three new stations.

Air

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Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Montreal has two international airports, one for passengers only, the other for cargo. Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (also known as Dorval Airport) in the City of Dorval serves all commercial passenger traffic and is the headquarters of 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 cargo flights along with MEDEVACs and general aviation and some passenger services. In 2015, Trudeau was the third busiest airport in Canada by passenger traffic and fourth by aircraft movements, handling 15.5 million passengers, and 232,648 aircraft movements. With 60.8% of its passengers being on non domestic flights it has the largest percentage of international flights of any Canadian airport. Trudeau airport is served by 40 carriers to over 100 destinations worldwide.

Airlines serving Trudeau offer flights to Europe, the United States, Western Asia, the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Mexico and other destinations within Canada and it contains the largest duty-free shop in North America.

Rail

AMT Train Vaudreuil
The Agence métropolitaine de transport runs commuter trains serving Greater Montreal such as this one on the Vaudreuil-Hudson Line.

Montreal-based Via Rail provides rail service to other cities in Canada, particularly to Quebec City and Toronto along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. Amtrak, the U.S. national passenger rail system, operates its Adirondack daily to New York. All intercity trains and most commuter trains operate out of Central Station.

Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, was founded here in 1881. Its corporate headquarters occupied Windsor Station at 910 Peel Street until 1995. With the Port of Montreal kept open year-round by icebreakers, lines to Eastern Canada became surplus, and now Montreal is the railway's eastern and intermodal freight terminus. CPR connects at Montreal with the Port of Montreal, the Delaware and Hudson Railway to New York, the Quebec Gatineau Railway to Quebec City and Buckingham, the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway to Halifax, and CN Rail. The CPR's flagship train, The Canadian, ran daily from Windsor Station to Vancouver, but all passenger services have since been transferred to Via Rail Canada and the Canadian terminates in Toronto.

Montreal-based Canadian National Railways (CN) was formed during in 1919 by the Canadian government following a series of country-wide rail bankruptcies. It was formed from the Grand Trunk, Midland and Canadian Northern Railways, and has risen to become CPR's chief rival in freight carriage in Canada. Like the CPR, CN has divested itself of passenger services in favour of Via Rail Canada. CN's flagship train, the Super Continental, ran daily from Central Station to Vancouver, but after it was transferred to Via it was eliminated in 1990.

The commuter rail system is managed and operated by the Agence métropolitaine de transport, and reaches the outlying areas of Greater Montreal with six lines. It carried an average of 79,000 daily passengers in 2014, making it the seventh busiest in North America following New York, Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, and Mexico City.

On April 22, 2016, a new planned automated rapid transit system, the Réseau électrique métropolitain, was unveiled. The 67-kilometre-long (42 mi) network, consisting of four branches and 24 stations, is planned to be completed by late 2020 and will be the third largest automated rapid transit network, after the Dubai Metro and the Vancouver Skytrain. Most of it will be financed by pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Twin towns and sister cities

Montreal has sister cities:

Friendship cities:

Images


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