Montreal is a city of millions in Canada. It is located in the
southwest of the province of Québec on the Île de Montréal, the
largest island in the Hochelaga archipelago, which is surrounded
by the Saint Lawrence River and the Ottawa estuaries. The
neighboring province of Ontario is almost 60 kilometers to the
west, and the border with the USA is just over 50 kilometers to
the south. The cityscape is dominated by Mont Royal, a 233 meter
high volcanic hill in the center of the island, from which the
name of the city is derived.
When the French navigator Jacques Cartier was the first European to explore the area in 1535, Saint Lawrence Iroquois lived on the island. In 1642, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance founded Fort Ville-Marie, a Catholic mission station. This subsequently developed into the settlement of Montreal, which came under British rule in 1760. Montreal received city rights in 1832. The city grew rapidly and became the country's economic and cultural center, but lost this leading role to Toronto in the last quarter of the 20th century. Significant events of global importance were the World Exhibition Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Montreal's economy is highly diversified. Important pillars of the service sector are financial services, media, trade and design. Tourism is also of great importance, due to the sights and the diverse cultural offerings, which, in addition to museums, also include numerous festivals in the fields of film, theater and music. More than 60 international organizations are based in Montreal. In the industrial sector, aerospace, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies dominate. With four universities and several other colleges, Montreal is an important educational location. The city is also a hub in the rail and road network and also has the largest inland port in the Americas.
With a population of 1,762,949 (as of 2021), Montreal is the second largest city in Canada after Toronto and the largest in the province of Quebec. The administrative region, which includes all municipalities on the island, has 1,942,044 inhabitants (as of 2016). The metropolitan area Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, which includes urban areas in the immediate vicinity, has 4,291,732 inhabitants (as of 2021). French is Montreal's official language and the primary language spoken by 56.9% of the population, while 18.6% primarily speak English. Different languages spoken by immigrants make up the rest, giving Montreal a multicultural population.
Montreal is the second largest city in the world after Paris where French is spoken as a first language. Montreal is also among the largest cities in the world where French is the official language. The city used to be second only to Paris, but has lost that rank to Kinshasa and Abidjan in recent years.
The cityscape is characterized by the juxtaposition of a variety of
historic and modern architectural styles, with the French, British and
American architectural traditions clashing. For more than a century and
a half, Montreal was the economic center of the country. For this
reason, not only residential and commercial buildings are part of the
architectural heritage, but also factories, silos, warehouses, mills and
refineries. The city has 49 National Historic Sites, more than any other
city in Canada.
The Arrondissement Ville-Marie, located between Mont Royal and the Saint Lawrence River, includes the city center with the most important institutions, public facilities and sights. There are several densely populated residential areas around the core area with the old town and business center. Typical of the older quarters are two- or three-storey terraced houses with stairs attached to the outside of the front facade. Representative villa districts stretch along the slopes of Mont Royal. Apart from densely populated district centers, the rest of the city is characterized by the suburban character.
Located on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, Vieux-Montréal is
the oldest part of the city. Its boundaries essentially correspond to
the former course of the Montreal city wall. A section approximately 250
meters long was uncovered in the Champ-de-Mars park, the former parade
ground. The main thoroughfare in the old town is the Rue Notre-Dame,
while the Rue Saint-Jacques, which runs parallel to it, was the
financial center until the 1950s. The Old Port (Vieux-Port) includes
former piers connected by a waterfront promenade and the Tour de
l'Horloge clock tower.
The predominant building material of the old town houses is gray limestone. The oldest building in Montreal is the seminary of the Sulpician Order (Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice), built from 1684 to 1687. The Château Ramezay, the former governor's residence, is around twenty years younger. Other outstanding buildings are the town hall (Hôtel de Ville) and the market hall Marché Bonsecours. With few exceptions, most of the other buildings in the old town date from the 19th century, and these are generally residential, commercial and warehouse buildings.
With the relocation of the business center, the old town gradually fell into a crisis and showed signs of ghettoization. In the early 1960s there were plans to demolish large parts of Vieux-Montréal. The Dutch city planner Sandy van Ginkel was able to convince the authorities to move the city motorway planned for this location underground. In 1964, the old town was placed under protection as an arrondissement historique (historic district), which led to numerous restorations in the following years. Due to the well-preserved colonial architecture, Vieux-Montréal is now a popular tourist destination; cobblestone streets and carriages running on them further emphasize the historical flair.
Centre-Ville is downtown and the economic hub of Montreal. Most of
the high-rise buildings and all the skyscrapers in the city are located
here. This area at the foot of Mont Royal is bounded by Rue Sherbrooke
to the north-west, Boulevard Saint-Laurent to the north-east, Rue Guy to
the south-west and Autoroute 720 underground to the south-east. Central
longitudinal axes are the Rue Sainte-Catherine (the city's most
important shopping street) and the Boulevard René-Lévesque. According to
city building codes, no building may be higher than the 233 meter high
peak of Mont Royal. In addition, buildings taller than 120 meters are
restricted to certain parcels. These measures are intended to ensure
that the range of hills remains an important landmark.
A special feature is the Ville intérieure, the widely ramified underground city. This is a system of shopping arcades and pedestrian tunnels that covers an area of twelve square kilometers. It connects ten subway stations and two train stations with hundreds of shops, restaurants and cinemas, numerous amenities and 35% of the residential and 80% of the office space in Centre-Ville. In this way, pedestrians can move around the city center protected from climatic influences, especially in the harsh winter. With a total length of 32 kilometers, the Ville intérieure is the longest tunnel network of its kind in the world.
Until the late 1920s, the height of buildings was limited to eleven stories. The repeal of this rule enabled the construction of the first skyscrapers, with architects favoring the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco architectural styles. Outstanding buildings of that era are the Tour de la Banque Royale from 1928 (121 m) and the Édifice Sun Life from 1931 (122 m). At the time of their opening they were the tallest building and the building with the largest floor area in the British Empire. Most of the skyscrapers were built in the 1960s, when the International style prevailed. Between 1962 and 1964, three buildings replaced each other as the tallest building in the city: the Tour CIBC (187 m), the Place Ville-Marie (188 m) and the Tour de la Bourse (190 m). After the building construction activity slacked off noticeably in the two following decades, the 1990s saw a third phase with predominantly post-modern buildings. 1000 de La Gauchetière (205 m) and 1250 René-Lévesque (199 m), the two tallest buildings in Montreal, both opened in 1992.
As Montreal's local mountain, Mont Royal is a popular destination for
residents and tourists. The Parc du Mont-Royal stretches along the
eastern slope, which faces the city centre. This 450-acre wooded
parkland was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the planner of New
York's Central Park, and opened in 1876. The city can be overlooked from
two viewing terraces. At the southern end of the park is the artificial
lake Lac aux Castors ("Beaver Lake"), at the northern end the George
Étienne Cartier Monument. Near the summit are the Mont Royal Cross and
the Mont Royal transmission tower. Two extensive cemeteries lie on the
west side of Mont-Royal, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery and Mont-Royal
The Parc Jean-Drapeau, which includes most of the islands Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame, is the former exhibition site of the world exhibition Expo 67. Only a few of the buildings from that time are still standing, including the American Expo pavilion Biosphère, one of Richard Buckminster Fuller designed geodesic dome. Another important park is the Parc Maisonneuve in the Arrondissement Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. On its southern edge is the Montreal Botanical Garden, which, with over 22,000 different plant species, 30 themed gardens and an arboretum, is one of the most extensive facilities of its kind in the world.
Several squares have been designed to be pedestrian-friendly: Place d'Armes with the Maisonneuve monument and Place Jacques-Cartier in the old town, and Square Victoria, Square Dorchester and Place du Canada in Centre-Ville.
Montreal has over 600 sacred buildings of different faiths. These are
predominantly Christian churches, the vast majority of which serve the
Roman Catholic denomination. Montreal is often referred to as the "City
of a Hundred Steeples" (Ville aux cent clochers). In 1881, American
writer Mark Twain said, "This is the first time I was ever in a city
where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window).
Four Roman Catholic church buildings bear the honorary title of basilica minor. The St. Joseph's Oratory, situated in a prominent position on the southwest slope of Mont Royal, is an important pilgrimage church. Built between 1924 and 1967, it is visited by two million people every year. With a height of 97 meters, the striking domed building is the largest church in Canada. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Montréal, built from 1823 to 1843, is 69 meters high and was the tallest building in the city until 1928. The seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal is the Marie-Reine-du-Monde de Montréal Cathedral. Built from 1875 to 1894, it replaced the Saint-Jacques de Montréal Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 1852. The Basilica of Saint-Patrick de Montréal was built from 1843 to 1847 as the main church for residents of Irish descent.
The oldest surviving church building in the city center is the pilgrimage chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (built 1771-1773). The seat of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal is the Christ Church Cathedral, built from 1857 to 1860; it is also the most important Protestant church in the city. Four other denominations also have a cathedral: the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Saint-Sauveur), the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch (Saint-Maron), the Russian Orthodox Church (Saints Pierre et Paul) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Sainte-Sophie).
The architecture of some parts of the city is influenced by ethnic
minorities. Chinatown (Quartier chinois) is located at the transition
between Center-Ville and the old town, the borders of which are marked
by four false gates (Pailou). This area was the preferred residential
area for Jews until the 1920s. Thereafter, the arrondissement of
Outremont took over this role; especially in the northern and eastern
part of Outremont there are synagogues as well as Jewish schools and
shops. The center of the Italian community is Petite Italie in the
arrondissement of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie; there is also the Marché
Jean-Talon, a covered market place.
The Arrondissement Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is the location of the Olympic Park with the Montreal Olympic Stadium from 1976. It can accommodate 66,000 spectators and is the largest stadium in Canada. An architectural feature is the 175 meter high stadium tower, which has an angle of inclination between 22.5 and 81 degrees and can be climbed with a rack railway. Habitat 67, a residential complex on a peninsula in the Saint Lawrence River, is another example of futuristic architecture. It consists of 354 tiered concrete blocks with 158 residential units. Two windmills, the Pointe-aux-Trembles windmill built in 1719 and the Fleming windmill in 1827, remind of the agricultural past of the Île de Montréal.
Montreal is known for its diverse cultural scene and is considered the "Cultural Capital of Canada". The presence of a significant francophone population gives the city a special character among the North American metropolises. French, British and American influences combine, further enriched by cultural influences from various immigrant groups. Another special feature of Montreal is the lively inner city (untypical for North America). This is particularly evident in the summer with numerous festivals and other cultural and social events. The Quartier des Spectacles is the center of cultural life.
There are over three dozen museums in Montreal, most of which belong
to the Société des directeurs des musées montréalais interest group. The
largest museum in the city is the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal with
various art exhibitions. The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and
the DHC/ART Foundation for contemporary art specialize in contemporary
art. The Center des sciences de Montréal, the Biosphère environmental
museum and the Biodôme Montréal in the former Olympic cycling stadium
deal with research and technology. The Insectarium de Montréal is the
largest insectarium in North America.
The McCord Stewart Museum deals with the history of Canada, the Redpath Museum with natural history, ethnology and archaeology. On the former site of Fort Ville-Marie stands the Musée Pointe-à-Callière, a museum dedicated to the history and archeology of the city of Montreal. The Center d'Histoire de Montréal offers further exhibitions on the history of the city. The Château Ramezay serves as an ethnological museum and portrait gallery. Contemporary history exhibitions are held in the manufacturer's villa, Château Dufresne. The Center commémoratif de l'Holocauste à Montréal commemorates the victims of the Holocaust.
Several museums deal with cultural heritage. The Musée Marguerite-Bourgeoys explains the life and work of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. In the Maison Saint-Gabriel, the oldest surviving farmhouse in Montreal, the way of life of the early French settlers is presented. The Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec is dedicated to handicrafts, the Center canadien d'architecture to architectural history, and the Lachine Fur Trade Museum to the North American fur trade.
The Musée des ondes Emile Berliner offers an insight into the history of the record industry.
There are numerous theaters, with French-language productions
predominating. The Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles is the
most important center for performing and visual arts and includes, among
other things, five theater halls. The concentration of theaters in the
adjacent university quarter, Quartier Latin, is particularly high. The
most famous houses are the Théâtre Saint-Denis, the Théâtre du Rideau
Vert and the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. English-language productions are
mainly performed in the Centaur Theatre, the former stock exchange
building. Several theaters serve together as venues for the comedy
festival Juste pour rire.
The Montreal World Film Festival is the only competitive film festival in North America accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers, FIAPF. There are also other smaller film festivals: The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma specializes in independent films, the Cinemania in French-language films, the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois in films from Québec and the FanTasia in films in the fields of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The film archive Cinémathèque Québécoise preserves and documents films and television programs. Montreal is also home to the National Film Board of Canada.
The cultural center Place des Arts also offers concert halls for
classical music. The two symphony orchestras Orchester symphonique de
Montréal and Orchester Métropolitain as well as the Opéra de Montréal
have their domicile there. The chamber orchestras I Musici de Montréal
and Orchester classique de Montréal also come from Montreal. The city
has a long tradition of jazz music, embodied by well-known musicians
such as Maynard Ferguson, Oliver Jones and Oscar Peterson. With over
3,000 participating musicians, 800 concerts and 2.5 million visitors,
the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is one of the leading
jazz festivals in the world.
Numerous representatives of the local rock and pop scene have gained notoriety, be it in French or English. These include solo artists Isabelle Boulay, Leonard Cohen, Robert Charlebois, Celine Dion, Diane Dufresne and Marie-Mai, as well as bands Arcade Fire, A Silver Mt. Zion, Beau Dommage, Bran Van 3000, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Les Cowboys Fringants, Offenbach, Simple Plan, The Dears, The Sainte Catherines and Wolf Parade. Montreal is the venue for several annual music festivals. The Festival Pop Montréal with around 400 concerts is spread over more than fifty locations. The FrancoFolies de Montréal specializes in chansons and is one of the largest events of its kind in the world. The open-air festivals Heavy MONTRÉAL (metal, hard rock) and Osheaga (rock, pop) also count tens of thousands of visitors. On Sunday afternoons in the summer, several hundred drummers and dancers gather for the tam-tams at the George Étienne Cartier monument.
Montreal is the headquarters of the circus company Cirque du Soleil, whose productions are based on artistic and theatrical elements. TOHU is a training center for circus performers and producers supported by Cirque du Soleil. The Grands Ballets Canadiens is a ballet company with an international ensemble. Other dance and theater productions include the Agora de la danse and the Segal Center for Performing Arts.
The city has a diverse nightlife with the longest opening hours in
Canada. International exposure was established in the 1920s when
Prohibition was in force in the United States. At that time, numerous
Americans came to Montreal for drinking and gambling, as well as for
nightclubs and brothels. The reputation of being a Sin City has endured
to this day. Today nightlife is mostly concentrated in six locations: Le
Plateau-Mont-Royal, Rue Crescent, Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rue McGill,
Quartier Latin and Village gay (gay and lesbian district).
At the northern tip of Île Sainte-Hélène is La Ronde, a Six Flags-operated amusement park with multiple roller coasters. In summer it is also the venue for the L'International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks competition. Its main sponsor, the lottery company Loto-Québec, has been operating the Casino de Montréal casino in the former Expo pavilions of France and Quebec on the Île Notre-Dame since 1993, which is one of the ten largest in the world and one of four casinos in the province .
McGill University played a leading role in the development of several
modern sports. The first fixed-rules rugby game on North American soil
was played in Montreal in 1865 between British officers and McGill
students. In 1874, McGill University and Harvard University faced off in
two soccer-like games with different rules. The resulting compromise
rules formed the basis of American football and Canadian football.
Student James Creighton organized the first indoor ice hockey game in
1875 and continued to develop the rules of ice hockey. The first ice
hockey club was founded in 1877. James Naismith, a McGill graduate,
invented the rules of basketball in 1891 and is often credited with
inventing the football helmet.
Public interest in ice hockey in Montreal has always been high, leading to the city being dubbed the “Ice Hockey Capital of the World”. Six different teams have won the Stanley Cup, the most important trophy in this sport, 41 times. The Canadiens de Montréal are the record champions with 24 titles. They belong to the North American professional league National Hockey League and play their home games at Center Bell. The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League have won the Gray Cup, the Canadian football championship, seven times. Their home stadium is the Stade Percival-Molson, for playoff games the Alouettes use the Olympic Stadium. A major user of the Olympic Stadium was also the Montreal Expos baseball team, a Major League Baseball franchise that relocated to Washington D.C. in 2005. moved. Montreal Impact is currently playing in the top-flight professional football league, Major League Soccer.
The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, a 4.4-kilometre-long temporary motorsport race track on the Île Notre-Dame, has been the scene of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix since 1978. NASCAR races of the Xfinity Series have also been held there since 2007. An internationally important tennis tournament is the Canada Masters (also known as the Rogers Cup), held jointly with Toronto, with the cities alternating annually in organizing the men's and women's tournaments; Venue in Montreal is the Stade IGA. The Royal Montreal Golf Club occasionally organizes the RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour golf tournament. Annual sporting events also include the Montreal Marathon and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal road race. The sporting event with the greatest international impact was the 1976 Summer Olympics. Montreal also hosted the 1974 Road Cycling World Championships, the 1985 World Gymnastics Championships, the 2005 World Swimming Championships and the 2006 Outgames.
Numerous municipal sports facilities can be used for amateur and popular sports, including the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard, the CEPSUM and the Center Pierre-Charbonneau. In addition, there are several dozen indoor and outdoor pools. In winter there are numerous ice rinks and 170 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. The Lachine Rapids create several permanent standing waves. Wave Habitat 67 in particular, located near the residential area of the same name, is very popular with whitewater paddlers, rafters and river surfers.
Montreal is located in the southwest of the province of Québec, almost 60 kilometers east of the neighboring province of Ontario and just over 50 kilometers north of the border with the USA. The provincial capital of Quebec is 233 kilometers away to the northeast, and the federal capital Ottawa is 166 kilometers away to the west. It is 504 kilometers southwest to Toronto, 404 kilometers southeast to Boston and 533 kilometers south to New York.
The majority of the urban area is located on the Île de Montréal, by
far the largest island in the Hochelaga archipelago. The 499 km² island,
which is roughly the shape of a boomerang, is 50 kilometers long and up
to 16 kilometers wide. On its south and east side, the Île de Montréal
is surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River (French: Fleuve
Saint-Laurent), one of the mightiest rivers in North America. The
western and northern boundary is formed by the Rivière des Prairies, one
of three estuaries of the Ottawa (French: Rivière des Outaouais). The
major rivers widen into lakes in two places, the Ottawa in the west to
Lac des Deux Montagnes, the Saint Lawrence in the south to Lac
Saint-Louis. Another important waterway is the 14.5 km long Lachine
Canal in the south of the island, built to bypass the Lachine Rapids.
The St. Lawrence Seaway, which made the Lachine Canal obsolete in 1959,
stretches along the St. Lawrence River just outside the city limits.
A small part of the urban area extends over several offshore islands. The most important are Île Sainte-Hélène, Île Notre-Dame and Île des Sœurs to the east, and Île Bizard to the west. Just outside the city limits are Île Jésus in the northwest and Île Sainte-Thérèse and Îles de Boucherville in the northeast, among others. Montreal has no territories on the mainland.
In the center of the otherwise predominantly flat Île de Montréal rises Mont Royal, a range of hills made of volcanic gabbro rock with three peaks at an altitude of 233, 211 and 201 meters. The westernmost of the Montérégie Hills was formed by the intrusion of igneous rock and hornfels in the Cretaceous period around 125 million years ago. The surrounding layers of sedimentary rock, which are up to two kilometers thick, have been removed by erosion over millions of years. To the west and north of Mont Royal, mighty layers of limestone were deposited on the bottom of primordial seas. These were mined in numerous quarries well into the 20th century and mainly used for building houses. Otherwise, till is dominant, deposited by advancing and retreating glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation. In the final phase of the Ice Age, around 13,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Saint Lawrence Valley lay below sea level in the Champlain Sea. This shallow estuary of the Atlantic gradually disappeared due to post-glacial land uplift.
More than three quarters of the urban area is surrounded by water.
Neighboring communities in the southwest of Île de Montréal are
Dollard-Des Ormeaux, Dorval, Kirkland, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and
Senneville. Within the city area there are six enclaves. These are the
communes of Côte-Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montréal-Est, Montréal-Ouest,
Mont-Royal and Westmount.
In the northwest, on the other side of the Rivière des Prairies on the Île Jésus, lies the town of Laval, in the north the municipality of Charlemagne. West of Île Bizard, on the opposite bank of Lac des Deux Montagnes, are Deux-Montagnes, Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac and Pointe-Calumet. To the east and south, along the St. Lawrence River, are the following communities: Varennes, Boucherville, Longueuil, Saint-Lambert, Brossard, La Prairie, Candiac, Sainte-Catherine and Kahnawake (a Mohawk reservation).
Montreal lies in the transition area of different climatic regions.
The climate is usually described as boreal and humid, which corresponds
to the effective climate classification Dfb. Summers are short and humid
with an average maximum temperature of 26°C. The temperatures can also
rise well above 30 degrees Celsius on individual days, with relatively
high humidity prevailing throughout. The winter is characterized by very
cold, snowy and windy weather, with prolonged periods of frost down to
below −20 °C. Spring and autumn are mild, but there can be strong
temperature fluctuations. Montreal and the surrounding area are known
for the Indian Summer, which is particularly evident on warm, sunny
autumn days with frosty nights.
Annual rainfall is around 980 mm. In the months of November to April, an average of around 220 cm of snow falls, with the snow cover being more than 20 cm thick on 33 days. Thunderstorms can occur from late spring to early fall, and tropical storm tails bring heavy rainfall. The sunshine duration is more than 2000 hours per year. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −37.8 °C on January 15, 1957, and the highest was 37.6 °C on August 1, 1976. The greatest amount of rain in one day was 94 mm on November 8, 1996, and the greatest amount of fresh snow was 102 cm on March 12, 1971.
There are numerous green spaces in the city, particularly along the
waterfront, on Île Bizard and on Mont Royal. They have a significant
tree population, which consists mainly of deciduous forest. Norway
maples, silver maples, sugar maples, American linden, small-leaf linden,
honey locust, red ash, white ash, Siberian elm and hackberry are the
most common. Since 1948, the city has had its own tree nursery for
raising young trees and shrubs, which are later planted in the parks and
streets. It is located in L'Assomption, about 30 kilometers north of the
Various animal species have adapted to life in urban environments and to the harsh winters. The most common species include raccoons, striped skunks, gray squirrels and woodchucks. In addition, red foxes and coyotes are increasingly observed.
The 17 most important green spaces in Montreal are summarized under the name Grands parcs de Montréal. These include parks and nature parks, which together cover almost 1800 hectares. There are also dozens of smaller parks and green spaces managed by the boroughs. An important nature reserve just outside the urban area is the Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville on the archipelago of the same name in the Saint Lawrence River.
The name of the city of Montreal is derived from Mont Royal (French:
"royal mountain"). It was named after Jacques Cartier, who discovered
the prominent hill range on the island in 1535 and named it in honor of
King François I. In 1556, when the Venetian cartographer Giacomo
Gastaldi prepared a map based on Cartier's notes for the Delle
navigationi et viaggi series of books published by Giovan Battista
Ramusio, he named the range of hills Monte Real. François de Belleforest
used in La Cosmographie universale de tout le monde, his cosmography
published in 1575, as the first derived form of the name Montréal. After
the appearance of a map made by Samuel de Champlain in 1612, the name
spread to the entire island. The first French settlement on the island,
founded in 1642, was called Ville-Marie. This name was gradually
superseded by Montréal and fell out of use in the first half of the 18th
After the end of French rule in 1760, the city retained its name, but the English spelling manages without the acute accent. The city dwellers are called Montrealers in English and Montréalais (masculine) or Montréalaises (feminine) in French, although the form Montréalistes was originally used. The city is called Tiohtià:ke in the Iroquoian languages and Moniang in the Algonquian languages. The original city name is now used for the central district of Ville-Marie.
The earliest evidence of human presence in what is now Quebec
Province dates back around tens of thousands of years. Already around
5000 BC. The focal points of cultural development on the Great Lakes and
on the Saint Lawrence River can be identified (Proto-Laurentian). From
this a wide-ranging regional culture developed, known as the Middle
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture. The oldest traces on the Montreal
territory date from around 2000 BC. Between 1000 B.C. and 500 AD is
known as the Early Woodland Period, characterized by pottery and the use
of bows and arrows. The cultivation of gourds increasingly shaped the
culture and enabled a more sedentary lifestyle for groups thought to be
predecessors of the Algonquian and Iroquois. In 2009, around 32,000
artefacts came to light at the LeBer-LeMoyne site in the Lachine
district, which indicate two settlement phases. The older lasted from
about 500 to 1200, the younger began between 1200 and 1350. In 2010,
there were a total of 125 archaeological sites in the Montreal
metropolitan area that are managed by the Bureau du patrimoine.
The Saint Lawrence Iroquois settled along the Saint Lawrence River, belonging to a common language family together with the Huron and the Iroquois. Around 1000 they began to make a living from gardening, especially from pumpkins, corn and beans. They built palisade-fortified villages surrounded by fields, some with over a thousand inhabitants. They preferred elevated locations in order to be protected from flooding. When the fertility of the soil decreased, they dismantled their longhouse villages and rebuilt them at another location. Southwest of Montreal, a Saint Lawrence Iroquois village is being excavated, dating from the mid-15th century.
The first European to arrive in the area of today's city was the French navigator Jacques Cartier. On October 2, 1535, at the foot of Mont Royal, some distance from the river bank, he discovered the fortified village of Hochelaga, whose name in the local language (Laurentisch) meant "beaver dam". In 1603, Samuel de Champlain followed in Cartier's footsteps. However, the Saint Lawrence Iroquois and their settlements had now disappeared, for which there are several theories: conflicts with neighboring tribes, the effects of epidemics introduced by Europeans or a migration towards the Great Lakes. Archaeological evidence and historical context most likely point to wars with other Iroquois tribes, particularly the Mohawk. The few survivors seem to have been assimilated by them or by the Algonquin.
After further explorations in New France, Champlain returned in June 1611 and set up a temporary fur trading post. As a location, he chose a headland at the mouth of the Petite Rivière river, the Pointe-à-Callière. He noted the offshore Île Sainte-Hélène as a suitable location for a possible founding of a city, but ultimately nothing resulted from these plans.
In 1636 the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France, which had the trading
monopoly in New France, transferred the manorial seigneury (seigneurie)
over the Île de Montréal to Jean de Lauzon, who later became governor of
New France. However, he did not use his prerogative, which is why the
seigneury was transferred to the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal. This
religious lay community, founded in 1639, wanted to set up a Catholic
mission station as part of an idealistic-utopian settlement project in
order to convert the Indians. On behalf of the community, officer Paul
Chomedey de Maisonneuve and nurse Jeanne Mance sailed to New France with
around 40 colonists. They founded Fort Ville-Marie on May 17, 1642 at
the Pointe-à-Callière, named after the Virgin Mary.
In the early years of its existence, the colony was frequently attacked by the Iroquois, who wanted to take control of the fur trade routes. The residents were forced to live behind the fortifications almost all the time, which is why agriculture hardly developed. In addition, contrary to their intentions, the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal hardly succeeded in converting Indians. It was only when Maisonneuve recruited around two hundred more colonists in France in 1653 and 1659 that the long-term survival of Ville-Marie could be secured. Among the newcomers was Marguerite Bourgeoys, the founder of the first school and of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal, canonized in 1982.
King Louis XIV placed New France directly under the French crown in 1663. In the same year, the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal was dissolved and its manorial rights passed to the Sulpicians. The Order used its greater resources to expand the city's infrastructure and open up the island for agriculture. Other orders of importance for the development of the city were the Jesuits and the Franciscan Recollects. Military interventions by the Carignan-Salières regiment sent to New France in 1665/66 pushed back the immediate danger from the Iroquois for the time being. Montreal became an important center for the fur trade because the city was strategically located at the starting point of various trade routes that stretched across the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Valley and the western prairies. In 1687 the town was fortified with a wooden palisade.
Despite a military presence, the Iroquois repeatedly advanced towards Montreal during the course of the Beaver Wars. Several dozen settlers perished when the nearby village of Lachine was raided on August 5, 1689, shortly after the start of King William's War. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Indians were not only severely decimated by wars and epidemics, but also economically weakened as a result of excessive hunting of fur animals. In August 1701, representatives of 39 tribes signed the Great Peace of Montreal, agreeing to end all hostilities among themselves and against the French.
During Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) and King George's War (1744-1748), Great Britain, taking advantage of the greater population and productive capacity of its colonies, succeeded in shifting the balance of power in North America in its favor. In this context, the French built the city walls of Montreal between 1717 and 1738. In the 1730s, when Montreal had more than 3,000 inhabitants, the first suburbs appeared. The Chemin du Roy, completed in 1737, enabled a more intensive exchange of goods with the city of Québec, since the Saint Lawrence River, which was not navigable in winter, was no longer a hindrance.
The British finally prevailed in the Seven Years' War. After the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the conquest of Quebec on September
13, 1759, Montreal was isolated. The garrison surrendered without a
fight to the numerically superior British troops on September 8, 1760.
The Peace of Paris (1763) marked the end of New France and the beginning
of British rule over its territories. The Quebec Act, which came into
force in 1774, guaranteed freedom of religion and restored the French
civil code to private law. In this way, the British secured the loyalty
of the French-born landowners and the Francophone Catholic clergy.
On November 13, 1775, the Continental Army took Montreal in the (ultimately unsuccessful) invasion of Canada. Montrealers initially celebrated the insurgent Americans as liberators. But the occupiers made themselves unpopular with controversial measures, including paying for goods and services with paper money instead of gold and a ban on trade with Native Americans. In April/May 1776, a delegation from the Continental Congress led by Benjamin Franklin tried in vain to win over the people of Montreal to their cause. On June 15, 1776, the Continental Army withdrew. Two days later, the British regained control of the city.
Montreal remained the organizational center of the fur trade under British rule. The French-Canadian traders were gradually marginalized as they were rarely given transport contracts and expedition finance. They were mostly replaced by Scots. These bundled their interests in the North West Company, founded in 1779, which competed with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). Between 1804 and 1817 the city walls were demolished as more and more residents moved from the walled part to the suburbs. From 1815 a wave of immigration from the English and Irish set in, which stimulated and diversified the economy. In 1817, the Bank of Montreal, Canada's oldest bank, began operations. However, the importance of the fur trade declined, and in 1821 the North West Company merged with HBC. The Montreal trading houses increasingly relied on exporting wheat and importing consumer goods. The Lachine Canal was built to bypass the Lachine Rapids, which were impassable for cargo ships, and facilitated trade with Upper Canada from 1825 onwards.
From the early 1830s, Montreal temporarily had an English-speaking majority. English and Scots lived mostly in the west, French Canadians in the east, and the Irish were concentrated in the slums of the south-west. English was the dominant language. In 1832 Montreal received its city charter and thus the right to self-government with a city council and a mayor. From 1844 Montreal was the capital of the province of Canada, a merger of the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. Due to the lifting of protective tariffs on exports to Great Britain, there was an economic crisis, and the political situation was unstable. When Parliament decided in March 1849 to compensate all victims of the rebellions of 1837, including the insurgents of the time, for their losses, Anglophone conservatives protested. On April 25, 1849, after two days of street fighting, an angry crowd set fire to the Marché Sainte-Anne, the provisional Parliament building, which was completely destroyed. Due to the uncertain situation, the government decided to make Toronto the new provincial capital.
Montreal businessmen financed the construction of the first railway line on Canadian soil: the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, opened in 1836, ran from the south bank of the Saint Lawrence River to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The first short rail line in the city, the Montreal and Lachine Railroad, opened in 1847, served as an extension of the Lachine Canal. From 1853 the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad connected Montreal with Portland (Maine), and in 1856 the Grand Trunk Railway opened the main line to Toronto. With the commissioning of other routes in the following years, Montreal developed into an important railway junction.
Until the 1850s, the rapidly growing city was repeatedly affected by cholera and typhoid epidemics, which claimed numerous lives. The most devastating fire occurred in 1852, when 1,200 houses were destroyed and 9,000 people were left homeless. Charitable organizations, foundations and hospices were initially unable to do anything against the increasing poverty.
Around 1860, Montreal was the largest city in British North America
and the undisputed center of business and culture in the state of
Canada, founded in 1867. The seven decades between 1860 and 1930 are
sometimes referred to as the "golden age". During this period, the
population increased ninefold, from around 90,000 to almost 820,000. The
cause of this development was the rapidly advancing industrialization.
The following economic sectors, among others, settled along the Lachine
Canal and the St. Lawrence River in particular: metalworking, mechanical
engineering, the food industry, breweries, the shoe industry and the
textile industry. Of great importance to the transportation sector were
the Port of Montreal and the freight yards of the Grand Trunk Railway
and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
From 1866, the majority of Montreal's population was again French-speaking: the prosperous industry required a large workforce, which in turn prompted numerous residents of rural areas of the province of Québec to move to the city, hoping for better earning opportunities here. Urban society was divided into two. The Anglophone bourgeoisie controlled Canada's major corporations and maintained close ties with Britain. The economic influence of the Francophone middle class was largely limited to small and medium-sized businesses. The dichotomy also manifested itself in a separate education and healthcare system. While Anglophone institutions were largely secular, the Catholic Church exerted great influence in Francophone institutions. From the 1880s, Eastern European Jews settled in large numbers. With further waves of refugees and immigrants, Italians, Poles and Russians in particular came to the city, but also the Chinese.
Through the incorporation of numerous suburbs between 1883 and 1918, the urban area expanded fivefold. However, these were predominantly communities with poor working-class neighborhoods that had overstretched themselves financially in expanding the infrastructure. Coupled with the social impact of World War I, the city of Montreal saddled itself with such a heavy debt burden that the provincial government had to place it under trusteeship from 1918 to 1921. The 1920s were characterized by the boom in the service sector.
The Great Depression that began in 1929 had serious repercussions for
Montreal. Industry, which was largely based on the processing of natural
raw materials and was dependent on exports, was particularly hard hit.
Unemployment rose rapidly, to which the city administration tried to
react with job creation measures. Declining tax revenues and sharply
rising social spending burdened the city budget; To make matters worse,
religious, social, and educational institutions were exempt from
property taxes. The city resisted calls from businessmen to reduce taxes
and instead introduced the province's first sales tax in 1935.
Nevertheless, the financial situation deteriorated noticeably, so that
the city had to be put under trusteeship again from 1940 to 1944. The
wartime economy during the Second World War temporarily ensured full
employment; Due to rising tax revenues, the debt burden was quickly
Montreal gradually lost its economic supremacy. Foreign trade was no longer aimed at Europe but at the United States; Western Canada played an increasingly important role in internal trade. Centrally located Toronto benefited from this and rose to become the new economic center. After the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, seagoing ships were able to travel to the Great Lakes. The economic realignment was also associated with a loss of importance for the Anglophone Montreal elite. During the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, Francophone society underwent sweeping modernization. She pushed back the influence of the Catholic Church, took control of her own economy and appeared more self-confident. A separatist movement also emerged. The left-wing terrorist group Front de libération du Québec carried out numerous attacks in the greater Montreal area until it was crushed in 1970 in the wake of the October Crisis. The separatist Parti Québécois established the government in the province of Québec for the first time in 1976 and implemented the Charter of the French Language in 1977, which guarantees French priority in all areas of life. As a result, major companies relocated their headquarters to Toronto, as the political and economic future in Québec was considered uncertain.
With the displacement of industry by the service sector, the cityscape of Montreal changed fundamentally. Many skyscrapers were built and the city center shifted away from the riverside Old Town (Vieux-Montréal) and closer to Mont Royal. New highways and bridges provided faster connections to the suburbs, and the belt of settlements began to spread beyond the Hochelaga archipelago. The completion of the basic network of the Montreal Metro in 1966/67 made possible the emergence of the widely branched underground city (Ville intérieure) on the one hand, and on the other hand a new island in the Saint Lawrence River, the Île Notre-Dame, was heaped up with the excavated material. The 1967 Expo 67 World Fair, which was also the main event of Canada's centenary, took place on this and the neighboring Île Sainte-Hélène.
As the venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics, Montreal was once again the focus of world attention. A boycott by numerous African countries overshadowed the event. Massive cost overruns in the construction of the Olympic Village and the sports facilities in the Olympic Park led to the accumulation of a debt of 1.5 billion Canadian dollars. To pay off the debt, the province had to levy a special tax on tobacco products. The roof of the Olympic Stadium, which was still missing at the time of the games, was completed eleven years late, and the debts were not finally paid off until 2006.
Economic growth in the 1980s was lower than in many other major Canadian cities. By the 1990s, however, Montreal's economic environment had improved significantly as new businesses and institutions began to replace traditional industries. In 1992 the city celebrated its 350th anniversary with numerous cultural events. The opening of the city's two tallest skyscrapers that same year symbolized Montreal's resurgence. A major urban renewal project in the early 21st century persuaded several international organizations to relocate their headquarters to Montreal.
In 2001, the provincial government of the Parti Québécois decided to
merge numerous municipalities; One of the plans was to merge all the
communities on the Île de Montreal. The government argued that larger
cities were more efficient and better able to compete against other
Canadian metropolises that had already expanded their territory. In the
predominantly anglophone area of West Iceland in particular, there was
fierce resistance to the forced mergers. Opponents expressed concern
that the independence of the suburbs would be lost, the tax burden would
increase and the linguistic minorities would lose influence in the
majority Francophone city.
Despite concerns, the government pushed through the union of 27 municipalities with Montreal on January 1, 2002. In the provincial elections in April 2003, the Parti libéral du Québec, which is traditionally close to the Anglophones, won. One of their election promises was to subsequently subject the mergers to a referendum throughout Québec. However, the new government laid down conditions that were difficult to meet. First, a tenth of all registered voters had to sign a petition to get a vote. Second, at least 35% of all registered voters had to agree, so a simple majority was not enough for secession.
Votes were held on July 20, 2004 in 22 former communities. All communities agreed to secede from Montreal, but Anjou, LaSalle, L'Île-Bizard, Pierrefonds, Roxboro, Sainte-Geneviève, and Saint-Laurent failed to meet the quorum, and these communities remained with the city permanently. There were no votes in Lachine, Montréal-Nord, Outremont, Saint-Léonard and Verdun. The other 15 municipalities were re-established on January 1, 2006, but had to cede many of their previous powers to the Association of Municipalities. Notwithstanding the secessions, Montreal ultimately doubled its metropolitan area and increased its population from 1 million to 1.6 million residents.
On May 10, 2011, Statistics Canada determined the following
population figures: The city of Montreal had 1,649,519 inhabitants, the
administrative region of Montreal (corresponds to the area of the city
and 15 other municipalities on the Île de Montréal) 1,886,481
inhabitants and the metropolitan region Communauté métropolitaine de
Montreal 3,824,221 inhabitants. This makes Montreal the most populous
municipality in the province and the second largest city in Canada after
The table below shows the population development according to the results of the Canadian census, again comparing the city, the administrative region and the metropolitan area. The number of inhabitants increased continuously up to the second half of the 20th century. The 1966 census gave a preliminary maximum of 1,293,992 inhabitants. By the late 1970s, the population had dropped to just over a million and stagnated for the next two decades. The increase of around 600,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 21st century is due to various incorporations. Far greater growth rates can be seen in the metropolitan region: while 82.7% of all residents lived in the Montreal metropolitan region in 1901, a hundred years later it was only 30.3%. The incorporations caused an increase to 44.6%. Statistics Canada estimates that the metropolitan area as a whole will have a population of 4.9 million by 2030.
The main language in Montreal is French. From around 1760 English was
added, which temporarily assumed a dominant position from the 1830s. At
the same time, the use of different languages is often a sign of social
belonging and inequality. This was true for the two main languages up
until the 1980s and is still true to a limited extent for the less
frequently used languages today.
The proportion of residents with French mother tongue is 53.6%, that of English mother tongue 12.8%. With a share of 33.1%, the allophones (other speakers), whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, form the second largest group. The most significant language among immigrants is Italian (5.6%), followed by Arabic (4.3%), Spanish (3.7%), Chinese (2.3%), Haitian (2.1%) and Greek ( 1.3%).
The distribution of the language groups in the arrondissements of the city is very different. The proportion of Francophones ranges from 25.8% in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to 80.4% in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. The anglophone proportion is smallest in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie with 3.7%, largest in Pierrefonds-Roxboro with 33.7%. Striking is the high proportion of Italian in Saint-Léonard (30.7%), Arabic in Saint-Laurent (13.9%) and Yiddish in Outremont (10.1%). In the 15 communities that broke away from Montreal in 2006, the proportion of native English speakers is significantly higher than in the city (the only exception being the predominantly francophone Montréal-Est). Here the Anglophones account for 47.5%, the Francophones only make up 24.7%. Montréal-Ouest has the highest anglophone proportion with 67.6%, the smallest francophone proportion Hampstead with 14.3%.
A distinctive feature of Montreal compared to other major Canadian cities is that over half of the population (56.0%) understands both French and English. 33.5% only understand French, 10.0% only English and 2.7% none of these languages. French is the predominant language at work for 71.6% of the workforce, with English accounting for 26.7%.
The vast majority of the European-born population is of French,
British, Irish or Italian origin. As “visible minorities” (French
minorités visibles, English visible minorities) those inhabitants who
are not of European origin are designated by the Canadian statistical
authorities (this does not include the natives). In Montreal, 26.0% of
the population belong to a visible minority. Afro-Canadians make up the
largest proportion at 7.7%; Arabs follow with 4.3%, Latin Americans with
3.4%, South Asians and Chinese with 3.2% each and Southeast Asians with
1.9%. The indigenous people make up less than half a percent of the
population. In 2006, 4,285 identified themselves as members of an
Amerindian First Nation, 2,650 as Métis and 205 as Inuit.
Since 1835, the German Society in Montreal has been taking care of migrants from Germany.
Montreal is a major center of the Roman Catholic Church. With a share
of 65.9% of the population (last census 2001) it is the dominant
Christian denomination. Since the Silent Revolution, however, it has
lost a lot of social and political influence. In addition, the
percentage of regular churchgoers in the province of Quebec fell from
90% to 6% between 1960 and 2008, the lowest in the western world.
While the Catholic Church predominantly connects French Canadians and immigrants from Ireland, Poland, Italy and Latin America, Protestants are disproportionately represented among the Anglophones. Their share of the population is 6.0%, with the Anglican Church of Canada predominating here due to the British colonial tradition, followed by the United Church of Canada. The proportion of the Orthodox is 3.5% (mainly Greek and Russian immigrants). 1.4% stated that they belonged to an unspecified Christian denomination, 5.4% to Islam (mainly immigrants from North Africa and Lebanon), 2.1% to Buddhism and 1.5% to Hinduism. The proportion of Jews in the population is 2.4%, with strong regional differences. In the arrondissements of Outremont, Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Saint-Laurent they make up more than a tenth of the population, and in the neighboring communities of Côte-Saint-Luc and Hampstead even more than two-thirds.
The problem of homelessness arose at the latest in the mid-19th century, when the alternation of economic crises and waves of immigration increased the number of people on the streets. Initially, charities and churches responded by offering soup kitchens, shelter and care. By the 1890s, more than a dozen homeless shelters existed. In the 1970s, Montreal had the highest rate of homelessness in the country. In the mid-1980s, the number of homeless was estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. Although the problem became visible to everyone, by 2000 their number had risen to over 28,000, of which more than 12,000 had been homeless for over a year. The proportion of women increased from 15 to 20% between 1989 and 1996 alone. 150 to 200 full-time workers are now employed to help the homeless. Many of the adolescents and young adults were addicted to drugs and alcohol, and they suffered significantly more frequently from hepatitis and other typical illnesses. Since 1992, the issue of homelessness became a priority and the Montreal model was developed. The core was the Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM), which includes 60 aid organizations. There was also a research institute and the Fédération des organismes sans but lucratif d'habitation de Montréal (FOHM), which already had 60 houses available in 1995.
The Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) is an overarching special-purpose association that includes 82 municipalities in the Hochelaga archipelago and in the adjacent Rive-Nord and Rive-Sud regions, including the major cities of Laval, Longueuil and Terrebonne. The CMM has planning competencies in the areas of spatial planning, economic development, art and culture promotion, local public transport, main road network, social housing construction, infrastructure and services of regional importance, waste disposal, nature conservation and air quality.
The Montreal administrative region consists of the city itself and the 15 municipalities that merged with it from 2002 to 2006. It is governed by a regional council (conférence régionale des élus) with 31 members, 16 of whom represent Montreal. The administrative region is responsible for providing the following inter-municipal services: police, fire brigade, drinking water supply, water mains, sewage treatment, public transport and main road maintenance.
The municipal charter (Charte de la ville de Montréal) regulates the responsibilities of the various authorities at the municipal level. The City Council (Conseil municipal), elected every four years by majority voting, is the legislative branch. It consists of 45 city councillors, 19 district mayors and the mayor, a total of 65 people. He is responsible for public safety, agreements with government agencies, subsidies, environment, area development plan and construction finance. In Canada, federal and provincial political parties are typically separate (members of one party do not necessarily belong to the other). In Montreal, this system continues at the local level. The last city council elections were held on November 3, 2013. Currently represented are Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal (27 seats), Projet Montréal (20 seats), Coalition Montréal (6 seats), Vrai changement pour Montréal (4 seats), various local groups (7 seats) and one independent.
The twelve-member executive committee (Comité exécutif), which exercises executive power and whose members are responsible for individual departments of the city administration, is determined from among the ranks of the city council. The chairman of the city council and the executive committee is the mayor, who is considered first among equals; he is also chairman of the CMM and the agglomeration council. Denis Coderre has held this office since November 3, 2013.
Montreal is further divided into 19 arrondissements. These boroughs are responsible for specific assigned tasks at the local level. Each arrondissement has its own district mayor (who is also a member of the city council) and a district council (Conseil d'arrondissement) with three to seven elected members. District council decisions are subject to the City Council's control and approval.
badges and flags
The Montreal coat of arms has existed since 1833 and was designed by Jacques Viger, the city's first mayor. The version used today dates from 1938 and was last modified in 2017. The coat of arms, which tapers to a point at the bottom and is surrounded by a maple wreath, is divided into four silver fields by a broad red cross. These contain floral symbols representing Montreal's major historical populations: a blue fleur-de-lys for the French and French Canadians, a red rose for the English, a purple thistle for the Scots, and a green three-leaf shamrock for the Irish. The Weymouth pine at the center of the coat of arms represents the five tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. Introduced in 1939, the Montreal flag is based on the escutcheon. A red St. George's Cross divides the flag into four white fields with the flower symbols. The city has used a logo for everyday official traffic since 1981.
Montreal's economy is characterized by a high degree of diversification. In 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) generated in the Montreal administrative region was 102.986 billion Canadian dollars, which corresponds to 34.5% of the economic output of the province of Québec. With a per capita GDP of $50,012 in 2009, Montreal ranked second among Quebec's 17 administrative regions, behind the resource-rich North du Quebec region. The most important economic sector is by far the service sector with a share of 86% of employees, the rest is made up of industry and construction. Between 2000 and 2010, the unemployment rate averaged 10.1%.
Several major industrial groups have their headquarters in Montreal.
Internationally best known are Bombardier, which specializes in the
construction of aircraft and rail vehicles, and Rio Tinto Alcan, one of
the largest manufacturers of aluminum. The state-owned Hydro-Québec,
based in Édifice Hydro-Québec, supplies the province of Québec and the
northeastern United States with electrical energy. SNC Lavalin is active
in the fields of industrial and plant construction. In the food
industry, Molson and Saputo are particularly noteworthy; the former is
the Canadian part of the fifth largest brewing group Molson Coors
Brewing Company, the latter Canada's largest producer of dairy products.
Along with Seattle and Toulouse, the Montreal region is one of the most important centers of the aviation industry. Québec is the fifth largest exporter in this industry after the USA, France, Great Britain and Germany. 80% of all products are exported. In addition to 15 large companies, more than 200 small and medium-sized suppliers have settled here. The companies Bombardier Aerospace (business and regional aircraft), Bell Flight (helicopters), Pratt & Whitney Canada (engines) and CAE (flight simulators) are world market leaders in their fields. The airlines Air Canada and Air Transat have their headquarters in Montreal, while the space organization Canadian Space Agency is domiciled in neighboring Longueuil.
Alongside Edmonton and Sarnia, Montreal is one of the centers of the Canadian mineral oil industry. Several petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants are located in the northeast of the metropolitan area and in the Montréal-Est enclave. The companies represented include Suncor Energy, Gulf Oil, NOVA Chemicals, Shell Canada, Petro-Canada, Basell Polyolefins and Ultramar. The required raw materials are delivered to the nearby port via pipelines and oil terminals. Various companies in the paper industry are also based in Montreal. These include Resolute Forest Products, Domtar, Kruger and Tembec. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry is present with branches of over 20 different companies. These include Pfizer, MSD Sharp & Dohme, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim.
With over 100,000 employees in more than 3000 companies, the
financial services industry is an important pillar of economic
activities. Montreal ranks 13th among international financial centers,
fifth in North America and second in Canada behind Toronto (as of 2018).
Among others, the major banks Bank of Montreal and National Bank of
Canada, the investment company Power Corporation of Canada, the
insurance group Standard Life Canada and the pension fund Caisse de
dépôt et placement du Québec have their headquarters here. The
cooperative bank Caisses Desjardins, the Royal Bank of Canada and the
French commercial banks Société Générale and BNP Paribas operate
important branches. Founded in 1874, the Montreal Stock Exchange
specializes in futures trading and was acquired by the Toronto Stock
Exchange in 2007.
Important media companies from Montreal are Astral Media, Quebecor and Transcontinental. The largest telecommunications provider in eastern Canada is Bell Canada, which operates from here, while CGI Inc. is a leader in information and process management. The companies Metro Inc. and Provigo are active in the food retail trade, and the drugstore chain Uniprix in the pharmaceutical wholesale trade. The computer games industry generates a high added value. The boom began in 1997 with the founding of Ubisoft Montreal, today one of the world's largest developer studios (the company already employed over 2,700 people in Montreal in 2014). Tax breaks from the provincial government and the presence of numerous local specialists prompted several other game developers to set up branches here as well. These include Behavior Interactive, BioWare, Eidos Interactive, Electronic Arts, Strategy First, THQ and Warner Bros. Montreal is also home to numerous design companies. For this reason, the city was named City of Design by UNESCO in 2006 and included in the Creative Cities Network.
Montreal is the seat of more than 60 international organizations, most of which are located in the Quartier international. Among the best known are the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO, the International Air Transport Association IATA, the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. These organizations generate heavy conference traffic; numerous conferences and congresses take place, for example in the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The numerous sights and cultural offerings also stimulate the tourism industry. In 2012, 8.4 million visitors stayed in the city for more than 24 hours.
A variety of media outlets operate from Montreal, including
television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines. The francophone
part of the public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada has its headquarters in
the Maison de Radio-Canada, which also produces the most important
television and radio programs. Other French-language television channels
include TVA, V, Télé-Québec and Canal Savoir. English language programs
are broadcast by CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV and Global Montreal, while CJNT
caters to a multicultural audience.
The French-language daily newspapers La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal and Le Devoir and the English-language daily Montreal Gazette are published in Montreal. The offer is supplemented by the free newspapers 24 heures and Metro as well as various weekly newspapers, student newspapers and local papers.
The water supply is ensured by the Service de l'eau, a joint
operation of the administrative region. The drinking water comes mainly
from the St. Lawrence River. In 1853, the city built the eight-kilometer
Canal de l'Aqueduc from the Lachine Rapids to the city center. The
connected Atwater and Charles-Jules Des Baillets waterworks together
provide 88% of the drinking water requirement. Four smaller plants draw
water from the Rivière des Prairies and Lac Saint-Louis. All of the
island's waste water is collected in the J.-R. Marcotte, the third
largest sewage treatment plant in North America. The gas and electricity
supply, which was initially in private hands, has existed since 1837 and
1884 respectively. The merger of two companies in 1901 created Montreal
Light, Heat and Power (MLH&P), which held the energy monopoly in the
region. In 1944, the province of Québec nationalized MLH&P and
transferred the gas and electric power plants to the newly formed
Hydro-Québec. In 1957 the gas supply was transferred to the semi-public
There are four courts in the city that have jurisdiction over violations of Quebec provincial law. The Municipal Court (Cour Municipale) primarily deals with traffic offences. The Palais de Justice houses the courts of first instance for criminal, private and juvenile law as well as the Supreme Court (Cour supérieure), while the Édifice Ernest-Cormier houses one of the two courts of appeal in the province. Montreal's police force has existed since 1843; the Service de police de la ville de Montréal has around 4,400 police officers and has been responsible for the entire administrative region since 2002. The Montreal fire brigade, the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal, founded in 1863, operates in the same area with over 2700 employees.
Montreal's hospitals are divided into three groups. McGill University Health Center is a consortium of hospitals affiliated with McGill University. The hospitals of the Center hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal are linked to the Université de Montréal; This also includes the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, founded in 1645 by Jeanne Mance, the oldest hospital on Canadian soil. The third group includes general hospitals operated by the province of Québec.
Due to its island location, Montreal is only accessible by land via
bridges and tunnels, which often leads to congestion on the roads. The
oldest bridge was built in 1847 over the Rivière des Prairies to the
neighboring Île Jésus, followed seven years later by the first bridge
over the Ottawa to the mainland. In 1859, the Saint Lawrence River was
bridged for the first time with the Pont Victoria, at that time the
longest bridge in the world. Today, 24 bridges and three tunnels are
available, used by road vehicles, railways and subways.
Montreal is the most important highway hub in the province of Québec. Autoroute 40 crosses the entire Île de Montréal from southwest to northeast and forms a kind of backbone of the road network. Autoroute 20 follows the south shore of the island. From here, Autoroute 520 and Autoroute 720 branch off, with the latter opening up part of the city center underground. Autoroute 10 runs east from the city center. Autoroute 13, Autoroute 15 and Autoroute 25 make cross-connections. Since 2012, Autoroute 30 has largely bypassed the urban area in the south. The inner-city road network is basically laid out in a grid pattern, but there are numerous deviations due to the irregular topography. Unlike the rest of Quebec, Île de Montréal does not allow right turns at red light intersections. The starting point for most long-distance bus lines is the Gare d'autocars de Montréal.
Opened in 1941, Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport (formerly Montréal-Dorval) is located in the neighboring municipality of Dorval. It is an Air Canada hub and the third busiest passenger airport in Canada with almost 13 million passengers annually. Due to the strong growth in air traffic, the federal government decided in 1969 to build Mirabel Airport, which should completely replace Dorval. However, the remote location (55 kilometers away), the lack of efficient transport links and competition from Toronto resulted in low occupancy. Mirabel has been used exclusively for freight traffic since 2004. The oldest airport in the region is Saint-Hubert Airport, which opened in 1928. It is located 16 kilometers east of the city center in the neighboring town of Longueuil and is used for general aviation. Despite the lack of passenger traffic, it is the country's fifth most important airport in terms of flight movements.
The port stretches north of the city center along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. In 2010, it handled 28 million tons of cargo and 46,000 cruise passengers. Measured by the volume of goods, it is the second largest port in Canada and the largest inland port in the Americas. Due to the small difference in height to the Atlantic and the width of the river, seagoing cargo ships can also head for the port. Icebreakers secure access in winter, while the St. Lawrence Seaway leading to Lake Ontario is frozen for around three months at a time.
Montreal has been a major hub in Canada's rail network since the
mid-19th century. The state rail company Via Rail, which has its
headquarters here, offers multiple daily train connections to Québec,
Ottawa, Toronto and other cities in the Quebec-Windsor corridor. Trains
run less regularly (three to six times a week) to Gaspé, Halifax,
Saguenay and Senneterre. The Amtrak Adirondack express train to New York
runs once daily.
The railway companies Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian National Railway (CN) ceded passenger services to Via Rail in 1978 and have since focused on freight services. Local industrial companies, marshalling yards and the port ensure a high volume of traffic. CPR moved its headquarters to Calgary in 1996, while CN remains based in Montreal. Other freight rail companies serving Montreal include the Delaware and Hudson Railway, the Chemins de fer Québec-Gatineau, and the Central Maine and Quebec Railway. The Gare Centrale, which replaced several CN stations in 1943, is the starting point for all long-distance trains. Access from the west is through the 5.2 km long Mont Royal Tunnel. Gare Windsor, the main CPR station opened in 1889, closed in 1993.
The state authority Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain
(ARTM) is responsible for planning all local public transport in the
Montreal metropolitan area. She commissions the transport company exo to
operate bus lines and a suburban railway-like rail service to the
suburbs: the trains de banlieue operate on five lines and connect
Montreal with various cities in the region. Terminal stations in the
city center are Gare Centrale and Gare Lucien-L'Allier.
The public transport company Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is responsible for operating public transport within the city and in some neighboring communities on the Île de Montréal. The most important means of transport is the Metro Montreal, a 69-kilometer subway network with four lines, one each going to Laval and Longueuil. The metro is used by more than 1.1 million passengers every day, making it the busiest subway in Canada. Special features of the metro are the design of numerous stations with works of art and the use of rubber-tired trains. The Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is currently under construction, a 67 km long route network on which a driverless light subway is to operate from 2022; the REM will connect Montreal to Brossard, Deux-Montagnes, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and the airport. The STM bus network with 197 day and 23 night lines, on which an average of 1.4 million passengers are transported every day, takes care of the detailed development. By far the largest bus station in the city is the AMT-operated Terminus Centre-ville, terminus for numerous bus routes to the southern and eastern suburbs.
The history of public transit in Montreal dates back to 1861, when the Montreal Street Railway Company opened the first horse-drawn tram. A funicular ran up Mont Royal from 1884 to 1918, and the first electric tram ran in 1892. The first bus line went into service in 1919, and trolleybuses were added to the rapidly growing network between 1937 and 1966. After the city took over the private tram companies in 1950, it shut down all routes by 1959. The first section of the metro opened in 1966.
Compared to other North American cities, bicycle traffic is significant. The cycle path network on the Île de Montréal is over 530 kilometers long and is constantly being expanded. In addition, Montreal is connected to the Route Verte, a more than 4,300-kilometer-long cycle path network. Since 2009, the Bixi bicycle rental system has provided more than 5,000 bicycles at over 400 rental stations.
The oldest university in the city is the English-language McGill
University, founded in 1821, which has so far produced ten Nobel Prize
winners. McGill is one of the most renowned universities in the world
and regularly ranks high in various university rankings. The
English-language Concordia University was formed in 1974 when Sir George
Williams University and Jesuit Loyola College were secularized and
The oldest French-speaking university in Montreal and with 55,000 students the second largest in Canada is the Université de Montréal (UdeM). Founded in 1878 as a branch of the Université Laval in Québec, it became independent in 1920. The UdeM was secularized in 1967. The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), which belongs to the Université du Québec network, is also French-speaking. It has existed since 1969, when the provincial government merged four colleges and a secularized Jesuit college.
In addition to the four universities, there are several colleges. The business school École des hautes études commerciales and the technical university École polytechnique de Montréal are connected to the UdeM. The John Molson School of Business is affiliated with Concordia University, and the engineering college École de technologie supérieure, the administration college École national d'administration publique and the research institute Institut national de la recherche scientifique are affiliated with UQAM.
At the middle school level, there are eleven Cégeps (Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel) in Montreal, which combine preparation for university education and technical vocational school. Of these, nine are French and two are English. There are also several private middle schools. Education in Québec has traditionally been segregated by denomination. As part of a secular school reform, there was a new division according to language criteria. Since 1998, five new school boards have been operating in the Montreal administrative region, covering kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools, adult education and vocational training. Francophone school authorities are the Commission scolaire de Montréal, the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys and the Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l'Île. Anglophone school boards are the English Montreal School Board and the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Supervision is carried out by school boards elected by the residents of the areas served.
The Bibliothèques publiques de Montréal is a network of 43 public libraries in the Montreal administrative region. The city's largest library is the Grande Bibliothèque, the main facility of the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec. The Jewish Public Library has North America's largest collection of Judaica.
Montreal is the birthplace and place of work of many prominent
personalities, such as the writer Saul Bellow, Naomi Klein and Mordecai
Richler. The most famous Montreal actor is William Shatner and the most
famous Montreal singer is Leonard Cohen. Among the most famous athletes
are mainly ice hockey players who have won the Stanley Cup several
times. These include Mike Bossy, Scotty Bowman, Doug Harvey, Mario
Lemieux and Maurice Richard. The German comedian Anke Engelke and the
French pop singer Mylène Farmer spent their childhood in Montreal.
Due to the short terms of office, only a few mayors had a lasting influence on the city's development until the 20th century. Some of them became known primarily through other activities, such as the future Prime Minister of Canada John Abbott and the journalist and writer Honoré Beaugrand. Camillien Houde served four 18-year terms between 1928 and 1954. He led Montreal through the Great Depression and was imprisoned without charge from 1940 to 1944 after publicly speaking out against the introduction of conscription. Jean Drapeau was in office the longest, from 1954 to 1957 and from 1960 to 1986. This period saw the construction of skyscrapers and the Métro, as well as hosting the Expo 67 world exhibition and the 1976 Olympic Games.
Also from Montreal are Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada), Georges Vanier (Governor General of Canada) and Charles-Eugène Boucher de Boucherville, Robert Bourassa and Jacques Parizeau (all Prime Ministers of Quebec). The most important business representatives include the shipowner Montagu Allan, the press magnate Conrad Black and the brewery entrepreneur John Molson. Fur trader James McGill's will enabled the founding of McGill University, which was named after him. Two Montreal chemists, Sidney Altman and Rudolph Arthur Marcus, received the Nobel Prize.