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Montreal skyline
Montreal skyline
Montréal Coat of Arms
coat of arms
Flag of Montreal
Motto : Concordia Salus
( lat .: "Well-being through harmony")
Location in Quebec
Montréal (Québec)
Montréal (45 ° 30 ′ 27.72 ″ N, 73 ° 33 ′ 45.36 ″ W)
State : CanadaCanada Canada
Province : Quebec
Administrative region : Montreal
Coordinates : 45 ° 30 ′  N , 73 ° 34 ′  W Coordinates: 45 ° 30 ′  N , 73 ° 34 ′  W
Height : 30  m ( m - 233  m )
Area : 365.65 km²
Inhabitants :
Metropolitan Area :
1,704,694 (as of 2016)
4,098,927 (as of 2016)
Population density : 4,662.1 inh / km²
Time zone : Eastern Time ( UTC − 5 )
Municipality number: 66023
Postal code : H0H - H9X
Area code : +1 514, +1 438
Foundation : 1642
Mayor : Valérie Plante
Website :
Montreal (dark blue) and metropolitan area (light blue)
Montreal (dark blue) and metropolitan area (light blue)

Montreal ( German [ mɔntʁeˈa: l ]) or Montréal ( French [ mɔ̃ʁeˈal ], English [ ˌmʌntɹiːˈɒl ]) 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 estuary of the Ottawa . The neighboring province of Ontario is just under 60 kilometers to the west, the border with the USA a little more than 50 kilometers to the south. The cityscape is shaped by Mont Royal , a 233 meter high range of volcanic hills in the center of the island, from which the name of the city is derived.

When the French navigator Jacques Cartier became 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 economic and cultural center of the country, but lost that leading role to Toronto in the last quarter of the 20th century . The world exhibition Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics were significant events with worldwide impact .

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 include museums as well as 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 are predominant. 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 on the American continent.

With a population of 1,704,694 (as of 2016), Montreal is the second largest city in Canada after Toronto and the largest in the province of Québec. The administrative region , which includes all municipalities on the island, has 1,942,044 inhabitants (as of 2016). The conurbation Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal , which includes urban areas in the immediate vicinity, has 4,098,927 inhabitants (as of 2016). French is Montreal's official language and the primary language of 56.9% of the population, while 18.6% mainly speak English . The remainder are spoken by immigrants in different languages , making Montreal a multicultural population.

Montreal is the second largest city in the world after Paris , where French is spoken as a mother tongue . Montreal is also one of the largest cities in the world where French is the official language. The city used to be in second place after Paris, but has given this rank to Kinshasa and Abidjan in recent years .



Montreal is located in the southwest of the province of Québec , just under 60 kilometers east of the neighboring province of Ontario and a little more than 50 kilometers north of the border with the United States . The provincial capital Québec is 233 kilometers away in the northeast, the federal capital Ottawa 166 kilometers away in the west. It is 504 kilometers southwest to Toronto , 404 kilometers southeast to Boston and 533 kilometers south to New York .

Topography and geology

Satellite photo of the Hochelaga archipelago

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 St. Lawrence River (French: Fleuve Saint-Laurent ), one of the mightiest rivers in North America . The western and northern borders are formed by the Rivière des Prairies , one of three branches of the mouth of the Ottawa (French Rivière des Outaouais ). The large rivers widen to lakes in two places, the Ottawa in the west to Lac des Deux Montagnes , and the Saint Lawrence River in the south to Lac Saint-Louis . Another important waterway is the 14.5-kilometer-long Lachine Canal in the south of the island, which was built to bypass the Lachine rapids . The St. Lawrence Seaway , which made the Lachine Canal superfluous in 1959, extends just outside the city limits along the St. Lawrence River.

A small part of the urban area extends over several offshore islands. The most important are the Île Sainte-Hélène , the Île Notre-Dame and the Île des Sœurs in the east and the Île Bizard in the west. Just outside the city limits are the Île Jésus in the northwest and the Île Sainte-Thérèse and the Îles de Boucherville in the northeast. Montreal has no territories on the mainland.

In the center of the otherwise mostly flat Île de Montréal rises the Mont Royal , a range of hills consisting of volcanic gabbro rock with three peaks at heights of 233, 211 and 201 meters. The westernmost of the Montérégie hills was formed in the Cretaceous around 125 million years ago through intrusion of igneous rock and horn rock . By erosion of the surrounding, up to two kilometers thick layers of sedimentary rock eroded over millions of years. To the west and north of Mont Royal, thick layers of limestone were deposited on the bottom of primeval seas . These were mined in numerous quarries well into the 20th century and mainly used for building houses. Otherwise, boulder clay prevails , deposited by advancing and retreating glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation . In the final phase of the glacial period, around 13,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Saint Lawrence Valley was below sea level in the Champlain Sea . This shallow inlet of the Atlantic gradually disappeared due to the postglacial uplift of the land .

Neighboring communities

More than three quarters of the urban area is surrounded by bodies of water. Neighboring communities in the southwest of the Île de Montréal are Dollard-Des Ormeaux , Dorval , Kirkland , Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville . There are six enclaves within the urban area . These are the municipalities of Côte-Saint-Luc , Hampstead , Montréal-Est , Montréal-Ouest , Mont-Royal and Westmount .

In the north-west, on the other side of the Rivière des Prairies on the Île Jésus, lies the city of Laval , and in the north, the municipality of Charlemagne . To the west of the Île Bizard, on the opposite bank of the Lac des Deux Montagnes, are Deux-Montagnes , Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac and Pointe-Calumet . In the east and south, along the Saint Lawrence River, communities lined up following each other: Varennes , Boucherville , Longueuil , Saint-Lambert , Brossard , La Prairie , Candiac , Sainte-Catherine and Kahnawake (a reserve of Mohawk ).

Snow-covered street in the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal district


Montreal lies in the transition area of ​​different climatic regions. The climate is usually referred to as boreal and humid , which corresponds to the effective climate classification Dfb. Summers are short and hot and humid with an average maximum temperature of 26 ° C. The temperatures can rise well over 30 degrees Celsius on individual days, with a relatively high level of humidity prevailing throughout. 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 temperature fluctuations can occur. Montreal and the surrounding area are known for the Indian Summer , which is particularly evident on warm, sunny autumn days with frosty nights.

The annual rainfall is around 980 mm. In the months of November to April, an average of about 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 autumn, and the foothills of tropical storms bring heavy rains with them. The duration of sunshine is over 2000 hours a year. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -37.8 ° C on January 15, 1957, the highest 37.6 ° C on August 1, 1976. The greatest amount of rain in one day was 94 mm on November 8, 1996, the greatest amount of fresh snow 102 cm on March 12, 1971.

Montreal, 1981-2010
Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: Normales climatiques au Canada de 1981à 2010: Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal
Monthly Average Temperatures and Rainfall for Montreal, 1981-2010
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) −5.3 −3.2 2.5 11.6 18.9 23.9 26.3 25.3 20.6 13.0 5.9 −1.4 O 11.6
Min. Temperature (° C) −14.0 −12.2 −6.5 1.2 7.9 13.2 16.1 14.8 10.3 3.9 −1.7 −9.3 O 2
Temperature (° C) −9.7 −7.7 −2.0 6.4 13.4 18.6 21.2 20.1 15.5 8.5 2.1 −5.4 O 6.8
Precipitation ( mm ) 77.2 62.7 69.1 82.2 81.2 87.0 89.3 94.1 83.1 91.3 96.4 86.8 Σ 1,000.4
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 3.3 4.5 5.3 5.9 7.4 8.0 8.8 7.9 6.1 4.6 2.8 2.7 O 5.6
Rainy days ( d ) 16.7 13.7 13.6 12.9 13.6 13.3 12.3 11.6 11.1 13.3 14.8 16.3 Σ 163.2
Humidity ( % ) 74.6 73.5 73.1 72.4 73.6 78.0 81.0 84.7 86.3 83.7 80.8 79.3 O 78.4
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

fauna and Flora

Park on the Rivière des Prairies

There are numerous green spaces in the city, especially in the riverside areas, on the Île Bizard and on Mont Royal. They have a significant tree population, which mainly consists of deciduous forest . The most common are Norway maples , silver maples , sugar maples , American linden , winter linden , Gleditschien , red ash , white ash , Siberian elm and hackberry trees . The city has had its own tree nursery since 1948 for the cultivation of 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 city center.

Different 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, more red foxes and coyotes are observed.

The 17 most important green spaces in Montreal are grouped together under the name Grands parcs de Montréal . This includes parks and nature parks, which together are almost 1,800 hectares in size. There are also dozens of smaller parks and green spaces managed by the city districts. An important nature reserve just outside the urban area is the Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville on the island group of the same name in the Saint Lawrence River.


origin of the name

Map of the Île de Montréal by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1744), on which the city is still called Ville-Marie.

The name of the city of Montreal is derived from Mont Royal (French: "royal mountain"). It was named after Jacques Cartier , who in 1535 discovered the striking range of hills on the island and it in honor of King I. François named. When the Venetian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi made a map based on Cartier's notes in 1556 for the book series Navigationi et Viaggi published by Giovan Battista Ramusio , he gave the range of hills the name Monte Real . François de Belleforest was the first to use the name form Montréal derived from it in La Cosmographie universelle de tout le monde , his cosmography published in 1575 . After the appearance of a map made by Samuel de Champlain in 1612 , the name was carried over to the entire island. The first French settlement on the island, founded in 1642, was called Ville-Marie . This name was gradually supplanted by Montréal and fell out of use in the first half of the 18th century.

After the end of French rule in 1760, the city kept its name, but the English spelling does not have an acute accent . The city dwellers are referred to in English as Montrealers , in French as Montréalais (masculine) or Montréalaises (feminine), although originally the form Montréalistes was common. In the Iroquois languages the city is called Tiohtià: ke , in the Algonquian languages Moniang . The original city name is now used for the central district of Ville-Marie .

Early history and discovery

The earliest evidence of human presence in what is now the province of Québec dates back around ten millennia. As early as 5000 BC ., The focus can Chr cultural development in the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River grasp (Proto-Laurentian) . This developed into a spacious regional culture known as the Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture is called. The oldest traces on the Montreal area date from around 2000 BC. Between 1000 BC. and AD 500 it is called the Early Woodland Period , which is characterized by clay pots and the use of bows and arrows. The cultivation of pumpkins increasingly shaped the culture and enabled a more sedentary way of life for groups that are considered to be the predecessors of the Algonquin and Iroquois . In 2009, around 32,000 artifacts were found at the LeBer-LeMoyne site in the Lachine district , indicating two phases of settlement. The older one lasted from around 500 to 1200, the younger one began between 1200 and 1350. In 2010 there were a total of 125 archaeological sites in the urban area of ​​Montreal that are looked after by the Bureau du patrimoine .

Simplistic reconstructed houses from an Iroquois village southwest of Montreal

The Saint Lawrence Iroquois settled along the Saint Lawrence River and , together with the Hurons and the Iroquois, they belonged to a common language family . Around 1000 they began to make a living from gardening , especially from pumpkin, corn and beans . They built villages fortified with palisades and surrounded by fields, some of which had over a thousand inhabitants. They preferred elevated locations to be protected from flooding. When the fertility of the soil decreased, they dismantled their villages consisting of longhouses and rebuilt them in another location. A Saint Lawrence Iroquois village is being excavated southwest of Montreal, dating from the mid-15th century.

Idealized representation of Hochelagas by Giovan Battista Ramusio and Giacomo Gastaldi (1556), according to Jacques Cartier's notes

The first European to come to the area around the present-day 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 means “beaver dam” in the local language ( Laurentisch ). In 1603, Samuel de Champlain followed in Cartier's footsteps. However, the Saint Lawrence Iroquois and their settlements had since disappeared, for which there are several theories: conflicts with neighboring tribes, the effects of epidemics brought in by Europeans, or migration towards the Great Lakes . Archaeological evidence and the historical context most likely point to armed conflicts with other Iroquois tribes, especially the Mohawk . The few survivors seem to have been assimilated by them or by the Algonquians .

After further exploring New France , Champlain returned in June 1611 and set up a temporary fur trading post . He chose a headland at the mouth of the Petite Rivière river, the Pointe-à-Callière, as the location . He noted the upstream Île Sainte-Hélène as a suitable location for a possible city foundation, but ultimately nothing emerged from these plans.

French settlement

The Compagnie de la Nouvelle France , which had the trade monopoly in New France, transferred the manorial rule ( seigneurie ) over the Île de Montréal to Jean de Lauzon , a later governor of New France , in 1636 . He did not use his privilege, which is why the seigneurie was transferred to the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal . This religious lay community, founded in 1639, wanted to build a Catholic mission station as part of an idealistic utopian settlement project to convert the Indians. On behalf of the community, the officer Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and the nurse Jeanne Mance sailed to New France with around 40 colonists. On May 17, 1642, they founded Fort Ville-Marie at Pointe-à-Callière , named after the Virgin Mary .

The Sulpizian Seminary , built 1684–1687, is the oldest surviving building in Montreal.

In the first years of its existence, the colony was often exposed to attacks by the Iroquois, who tried to bring the fur trade routes under their control. The residents were forced to live almost permanently behind the fortification, which is why agriculture could hardly develop. In addition, contrary to its intention, 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 ensured. Among the newcomers was Marguerite Bourgeoys , the 1982 canonized founder of the first school and the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal .

Montreal City Map (1725)

King Louis XIV placed New France under the French crown directly in 1663. In the same year, the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal dissolved and their manorial rights went to the Sulpizians . 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 temporarily suppressed the immediate threat posed by the Iroquois in 1665/66. As a result, Montreal developed into an important center of 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 prairie. In 1687 the city was fortified with a wooden palisade.

Despite their military presence, the Iroquois repeatedly advanced in the direction of Montreal during the Beaver Wars . Several dozen settlers were killed when the nearby village of Lachine was raided on August 5, 1689, shortly after the beginning of the King William's War . Towards the end of the 18th century, the Indians were not only severely decimated by wars and epidemics, but were also weakened economically due to the excessive hunting of fur animals. In August 1701, representatives of 39 tribes signed the Great Peace of Montreal , with which they agreed the cessation of all hostilities among themselves and against the French.

In Queen Anne's War (1702–1713) and King George's War (1744–1748) Great Britain was able to shift the balance of power in North America in its favor, taking advantage of the higher population and production capacity of its colonies. In this context, the French built the city ​​walls of Montreal between 1717 and 1738 . In the 1730s, when Montreal had over 3,000 inhabitants, the first suburbs emerged. The Chemin du Roy , completed in 1737, enabled a more intensive exchange of goods with the city of Québec , since the St. Lawrence River, which freezes over in winter, was no longer an obstacle.

British rule

French troops surrender to the British Army (1760).

In the Seven Years' War , the British were finally able to prevail. After the conquest of Québec on September 13, 1759, Montreal was isolated. The garrison surrendered to the outnumbered British troops on September 8, 1760 without a fight. The Peace of Paris (1763) sealed the end of New France and the beginning of British rule. The Quebec Act , which came into force in 1774, guaranteed freedom of religion and restored the civil code in private law. In this way the British secured the loyalty of the large landowners and the clergy.

On November 13, 1775, the Continental Army took the city during the (ultimately unsuccessful) invasion of Canada . The Montreal people first celebrated the rebellious Americans as liberators. But the occupiers quickly made themselves unpopular with controversial measures, including paying for goods and services with paper money instead of gold and a ban on trading with Indians. A delegation from the Continental Congress , headed by Benjamin Franklin, tried in vain in April and May 1776 to win the population back over to their cause. On June 15, 1776, the Continental Army withdrew from Montreal. Two days later, the British regained control of the city.

The Lachine Canal around 1850

Montreal remained the organizational center of the fur trade under British rule. The French-Canadian traders were gradually marginalized, as they hardly received any transport contracts and expedition financing. Mostly Scottish traders took their place . 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 torn down as more and more residents moved from the walled part to the suburbs. From 1815, a wave of British and Irish immigrants began, which stimulated and diversified the economy. In 1817, the Bank of Montreal , Canada's oldest bank, began operations. The importance of the fur trade, however, steadily decreased and in 1821 the North West Company merged with HBC. The Montreal trading houses are increasingly relying on the export of wheat and the import of consumer goods. To bypass the Lachine rapids , which are impassable for cargo ships , the Lachine Canal was built, which facilitated trade with Upper Canada from 1825 onwards .

Provincial Canada Parliament Building Fire (1849)

From the early 1830s, Montreal had an English-speaking majority. The English and Scots lived mostly in the west, French-Canadians in the east, the Irish were concentrated in the poor working-class neighborhoods in the southwest. English dominated as the lingua franca . In 1832 Montreal was granted city status and thus the right to self-govern with a city council and a mayor. From 1844 Montreal was the capital of the Province of Canada , an amalgamation 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 rebels at the time, for their losses, protests broke out on the part of the Anglophone conservatives. On April 25, 1849, after two days of street fighting, an angry crowd set fire to the Marché Sainte-Anne, the temporary parliament building, which was completely destroyed. Due to the uncertain situation, the government decided to make Toronto the new provincial capital.

View of Montreal, oldest photograph of the city. McLennan Library Building , 1858.

Montreal businessmen funded 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 St. Lawrence River to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu . The first short rail line in urban areas, the Montreal and Lachine Railroad , opened in 1847 , served as a complement to the Lachine Canal. From 1853 the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad connected Montreal with Portland , and in 1856 the Grand Trunk Railway opened the main route to Toronto. With the commissioning of further routes in the following years, Montreal developed into a major rail hub. Until the 1850s, the rapidly growing city was repeatedly hit by cholera and typhoid epidemics, which resulted in numerous deaths. The most momentous fire occurred in 1852 when 1,200 houses were destroyed and 9,000 people were left homeless. At first, charities, foundations and hospices could hardly do anything against the increasing impoverishment.

Industrialization and rapid growth

View of Montreal (1888)

Around 1860, Montreal was the largest city in British North America , and in the state of Canada founded in 1867, it was the undisputed center of economy and culture. The seven decades between 1860 and 1930 are sometimes referred to as the "golden age". During this period, the population increased nine-fold, from around 90,000 to just under 820,000. The cause of this development was the rapidly advancing industrialization . The following industries , among others , settled along the Lachine Canal and the St. Lawrence River : metal processing , mechanical engineering , the food industry , breweries , the shoe industry and the textile industry . The port of Montreal and the freight yards of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway were of great importance for the transport sector .

View of the city center from Mont Royal (1902)

From 1866, the majority of the population of Montreal was French-speaking again: The prosperous industry needed a lot of workers, which in turn induced numerous residents of rural areas in the province of Québec to move to the city, as they hoped for better income opportunities here. Urban society was divided into two parts. The Anglophone bourgeoisie controlled Canada's most important corporations and maintained close ties with Great Britain. The economic influence of the francophone middle class was largely limited to small and medium-sized companies. The dichotomy also manifested itself in a separate education and health system. While the Anglophone institutions were largely secular , the Catholic Church exerted great influence in the Francophone institutions. From the 1880s onwards, Eastern European Jews settled in large numbers. With further waves of refugees and immigration, Italians , Poles and Russians in particular came to the city, but also Chinese .

Through the incorporation of numerous suburbs between 1883 and 1918, the urban area expanded five-fold. However, these were mostly communities with poor working-class neighborhoods that had taken over financially in the expansion of the infrastructure. Coupled with the social impact of World War I , the city of Montreal incurred such a heavy burden of debt that the provincial government had to place it under trusteeship from 1918 to 1921. The 1920s were marked by the boom in the service sector.

Relative loss of importance and structural change

Montreal Soup Kitchen (1931)

The 1929 onset of the global economic crisis had serious implications for Montreal. The industry, which was based to a large extent on the processing of natural raw materials and thus dependent on exports, was particularly hard hit. Unemployment rose rapidly, to which the city administration tried to react with job creation measures. Falling tax revenues and a sharp rise in social spending put a strain on the city's budget; A further complicating factor was that religious, social and educational institutions were exempt from property taxes. The city resisted demands from businesspeople to lower 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 placed under trust management again from 1940 to 1944. The wartime economy during World War II temporarily ensured full employment; Due to increasing tax revenues, the debt burden could be reduced quickly.

Montreal gradually lost its economic primacy. Foreign trade was no longer directed towards Europe but towards the United States; Western Canada played an increasingly important role in domestic trade . Centrally located Toronto benefited from this and became the new economic center. After the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, ocean-going ships were able to sail as far as the Great Lakes. Associated with the economic realignment was also a loss of importance for the Anglophone Montreal elite. During the " silent revolution " in the 1960s, francophone society experienced a radical modernization. It pushed back the influence of the Catholic Church, took control of its own economy and appeared more self-confident. A separate movement also developed. The left-wing terrorist group Front de liberation du Québec carried out numerous attacks in the greater Montreal area until it was crushed in 1970 in the course of the October crisis . The separatist Parti Québécois first established the government in 1976 and put the Charter of the French Language into force in 1977 , which guarantees French precedence in all areas of life. Major companies then moved their headquarters to Toronto, either to continue doing business in English or because they lacked French-speaking staff.

With the displacement of industry by the service sector, the cityscape of Montreal changed fundamentally. Numerous skyscrapers were built and the city center moved away from the old town on the river bank ( Vieux-Montréal ) closer to Mont Royal. New highways and bridges enabled faster connections to the suburbs, with the settlement belt beginning to expand beyond the Hochelaga archipelago. The completion of the basic network of the Montreal Metro in 1966/67 enabled the development of the widely ramified 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 . On this and on the neighboring Île Sainte-Hélène , the world exhibition Expo 67 took place in 1967 , which was also the main event of Canada's centenary.

As the venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics , Montreal was once again in the focus of the global public. A boycott of numerous African countries overshadowed the event. Massive cost overruns in the construction of the Olympic Village and the sports facilities in the Olympic Park resulted in a mountain of debt amounting to 1.5 billion Canadian dollars. To settle 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 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 in the same year clearly symbolized the recovery of Montreal. In the course of an extensive urban renewal project at the beginning of the 21st century, several international organizations were persuaded to relocate their headquarters to Montreal.

Mergers and spin-offs


The red areas show the urban area of ​​Montreal before 2002 (left) and from 2006 (right), the blue areas show independent municipalities. In the years in between, all areas belonged to the city.

In 2001 the provincial government of the Parti Québécois decided on numerous parish mergers; Among other things, all municipalities on the Île de Montreal were to be amalgamated. The government argued that larger cities were more efficient and could better hold their own against other Canadian metropolitan areas 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 suburbs would lose their independence, the tax burden would increase and the linguistic minorities would lose influence in the largely francophone city.

Despite concerns, the government enforced the unification of 27 parishes 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 subject the mergers to an ex post referendum across Québec. However, the new government set 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 the split.

On July 20, 2004, votes were held in 22 former municipalities. All parishes agreed to detach from Montreal, but Anjou , LaSalle , L'Île-Bizard , Pierrefonds , Roxboro , Sainte-Geneviève and Saint-Laurent missed the quorum , which is why these parishes finally stayed with the city. There were no votes in Lachine , Montréal-Nord , Outremont , Saint-Léonard and Verdun . The other 15 municipalities were newly founded on January 1, 2006, but had to cede many of their previous competencies to the municipal association. Regardless of the splits, Montreal ultimately doubled its metropolitan area and increased its population from one million to 1.6 million.


Population development

On May 10, 2011, Statistics Canada determined the following population figures: The city of Montreal had 1,649,519 inhabitants, the administrative region 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 Montréal 3,824,221 inhabitants. This makes Montreal the most populous municipality in the province and the second largest city in Canada after Toronto .

The table below shows the population development according to the results of the Canadian censuses, again comparing the city, the administrative region and the metropolitan area. The population increased continuously until the second half of the 20th century. The 1966 census showed a provisional maximum of 1,293,992 inhabitants. By the end of the 1970s, the population sank to just over a million and stagnated for the following two decades. The increase of around 600,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 21st century is due to various incorporations. Much higher growth rates can be observed in the metropolitan region: In 1901 82.7% of all residents lived in the metropolitan region in Montreal, a hundred years later it was only 30.3%. The incorporations caused an increase to 44.6%. According to estimates by Statistics Canada, 4.9 million inhabitants are expected for the entire metropolitan area in 2030.

Population development Montreal
year Residents
Montreal Île de Montréal Metropolitan area
1660 407
1700 2,969
1760 8,300
1781 17,945
1821 18,767
1841 40,356
1861 90.323
1871 130.022 144.044 174.090
1881 176.263 193.171 223,512
1891 254.278 277,525 308.169
1901 325,653 360.838 393,665
year Residents
Montreal Île de Montréal Metropolitan area
1911 490.504 554.761 594.812
1921 618.506 724.205 774.330
1931 818,577 1,003,868 1,064,448
1941 903.007 1,116,800 1,192,235
1951 1,021,520 1,320,232 1,539,308
1961 1,201,559 1,747,696 2,110,679
1971 1,214,352 1,958,595 2,743,208
1981 1,018,609 1,760,120 2,862,286
1991 1,017,666 1,775,691 3,127,242
2001 1,039,534 1,812,723 3,426,350
2011 1,649,519 1,886,481 3,824,221


Mother tongue majorities in the agglomeration (blue = French, red = English, green = "allophone")

The main language of Montreal has been French since it was founded, and English was added from around 1760 . 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 ​​until the 1980s, and to a certain extent still applies to the less frequently used languages ​​today.

The proportion of residents with a French mother tongue is 53.6%, of those with an English mother tongue 12.8%. With a share of 33.1%, the “ allophones ”, whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, form the second largest group. The most important language of 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 across the arrondissements 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 smallest is the Anglophone share in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie with 3.7%, the largest in Pierrefonds-Roxboro with 33.7%. The high proportions of Italian in Saint-Léonard (30.7%), Arabic in Saint-Laurent (13.9%) and Yiddish in Outremont (10.1%) are striking . In the 15 municipalities that split off from Montreal in 2006, the proportion of native English speakers is significantly higher than in the city (the only exception is the predominantly francophone Montréal-Est ). Here the Anglophones make up a share of 47.5%, the Francophones only make up 24.7%. The highest Anglophone share has Montréal-Ouest with 67.6%, the smallest Francophone share Hampstead with 14.3%.

A special 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. For 71.6% of the workforce, French is the predominant language at work, while English accounts for 26.7%.

The so-called "visible minorities"

The vast majority of the population of European descent are of French, British, Irish or Italian descent. The Canadian statistical authorities designate those inhabitants who are of non-European origin (with the exception of the indigenous people) as “visible minorities” (French minorités visibles , English visible minorities ). In Montreal, 26.0% of the population is a visible minority. Afro-Canadians make up the largest proportion with 7.7%; it is followed by Arabs with 4.3%, Latin Americans with 3.4%, South Asians and Chinese with 3.2% each and Southeast Asians with 1.9%. The share of the indigenous people in the population is less than half a percent. In 2006, 4,285 people identified themselves as members of an Indian First Nation , 2,650 as Métis and 205 as Inuit .

The German Society of Montreal has been taking care of migrants from Germany since 1835 .


Montreal is a major center of the Roman Catholic Church . With a share of 65.9% of the population (last survey 2001) it is the dominant Christian denomination. Since the silent revolution , however, it has significantly lost its social and political influence. In addition, the proportion of regular churchgoers in the province of Québec fell from 90% to 6% between 1960 and 2008, making it 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 dominating here due to the British colonial tradition , followed by the United Church of Canada . The proportion of Orthodox is 3.5% (mostly Greek and Russian immigrants). 1.4% said 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 over a tenth of the population, in the neighboring municipalities of Côte-Saint-Luc and Hampstead even more than two thirds.

Visible social problems

The problem of homelessness arose in the middle of the 19th century at the latest, when the alternation of economic crises and waves of immigration let the number of people on the street increase. Initially, charities and churches responded by offering soup kitchens, shelter, and care. There were more than a dozen homeless shelters in existence in the 1890s. In the 1970s, Montreal had the highest homelessness rate in the country. In the mid-1980s, the number of homeless people was estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. Although the problem became visible to everyone, the number rose to over 28,000 by 2000, of which more than 12,000 had no roof over their heads for over a year. The proportion of women increased from 15 to 20% between 1989 and 1996 alone. There are now 150 to 200 full-time workers employed to help the homeless. Many of the adolescents and young adults were drug and alcoholic, and they suffered significantly more often from hepatitis and other typical diseases. Since 1992 the issue of homelessness has been a priority and the Montreal model has been 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), to which 60 houses were already available in 1995.

Politics and administration

Superordinate administration

The Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) is a superordinate special-purpose association to which 82 municipalities in the Hochelaga archipelago and in the adjacent regions Rive-Nord and Rive-Sud belong, including the cities of Laval , Longueuil and Terrebonne . The CMM has planning skills in the areas of spatial planning, economic development, art and culture promotion, local public transport, the main road network, social housing, infrastructure and services of regional importance, waste disposal, nature conservation and air quality.

The administrative region of Montreal consists of the city itself and the 15 municipalities that merged with it from 2002 to 2006. It is headed by a regional council (conférence régionale des élus) with 31 members, 16 of whom represent Montreal. The administrative region is responsible for the provision of the following intermunicipal services: police, fire brigade, drinking water supply, water pipes, wastewater treatment, local public transport and maintenance of main roads.

Municipal authorities

Hôtel de Ville , Montreal City Hall

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 vote , is the legislature . It consists of 45 city councilors, 19 district mayors and the mayor, a total of 65 people. He is responsible for public safety, government agency agreements, subsidies, the environment, area development plan, and construction finance. In Canada, parties at the federal and provincial levels are typically separate from each other (members of one party need not necessarily belong to the other). In Montreal, this system also continues at the local level. The last city council elections took place on November 3, 2013. Currently represented are the Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal (27 seats), the Projet Montréal (20 seats), the Coalition Montréal (6 seats), Vrai changement pour Montréal (4 seats), various local groups (7 seats) and an independent.

The twelve-member executive committee (Comité exécutif) is determined from among the ranks of the city council, which exercises executive power and whose members are responsible for individual departments of the city administration. 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 certain assigned tasks at the local level. Each arrondissement has its own district mayor (also a member of the city council) and a district council (Conseil d'arrondissement) with three to seven elected members. Resolutions of the district councils are subject to the control of the city council and require its approval.

City structure

From 2002 to 2006, Montreal was divided into 27 arrondissements. Since the separation of some previously merged municipalities, there are still 19:

Map of the arrondissements

badges and flags

City logo

The coat of arms of Montreal was founded in 1833 and was designed by Jacques Viger , designed the first mayor of the city. The version used today dates from 1938 and was last changed in 2017. The bottom tapered and is surrounded by a maple wreath blazon is divided by a wide red cross four silver boxes. These contain floral symbols that stand for the most important historical population groups in Montreal: a blue fleur-de-lys for the French or 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 in the center of the coat of arms represents the five tribes of the Iroquois Confederation. Introduced in 1939, the Montreal flag is based on the coat of arms. A red St. George's cross divides the flag into four white fields with the flower symbols. The city has been using a logo for everyday official traffic since 1981.

Town twinning

Montreal has had official bilateral relations with other cities since 1979. The aim of these collaborations is to enable the exchange of information and expertise in areas of common interest. Montreal maintains particularly close relationships with the six following cities. There are also around a dozen other cities with which a limited exchange takes place in individual areas.

Cityscape and architecture

Typical Montreal row house development

The cityscape is characterized by the juxtaposition of a large number of historical and modern architectural styles, with the French, British and American architectural traditions clashing. For more than a century and a half, Montreal was the country's economic center. 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 St. Lawrence River , encompasses the city center with the most important institutions, public facilities and attractions. There are several densely populated residential areas around the core area with the old town and business center. Two or three-story row houses with stairs on the front facade are typical of the older neighborhoods. Representative residential areas stretch out on the slopes of Mont Royal . The rest of the city area, apart from densely populated district centers, is characterized by suburban areas .

Vieux-Montréal (old town)

Old Montreal, in the foreground the Old Port

Vieux-Montréal , on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, is the oldest part of the city. Its boundaries essentially correspond to the earlier course of the Montreal city wall . A section around 250 meters long was exposed in the Champ-de-Mars park , the former parade ground. The main traffic axis of the old town is the Rue Notre-Dame , the Rue Saint-Jacques running parallel to it was the financial center until the 1950s. The old port (Vieux-Port) includes former pier systems, which are connected by a promenade, as well as 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 Sulpizian Order ( Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice ), built between 1684 and 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 a few exceptions, most of the other buildings in the old town date from the 19th century, usually residential, commercial and warehouse.

With the relocation of the business center, the old town gradually fell into a crisis and showed signs of ghettoisation. At the beginning of the 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 at this point underground. In 1964 the old town was placed under protection as an arrondissement historique (historic district), which resulted in 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 add to the historical flair.

Center-Ville (Downtown)

The Center-Ville is the downtown and the economic center of Montreal. This is where most of the high-rise buildings and all of the city's skyscrapers are located . The area at the foot of Mont Royal is bounded by Rue Sherbrooke in the northwest, Boulevard Saint-Laurent in the northeast, Rue Guy in the southwest and the underground Autoroute 720 in the southeast. The central longitudinal axes are the Rue Sainte-Catherine (the city's most important shopping street) and the Boulevard René-Lévesque . According to the city's building regulations, no building may tower over the 233-meter-high summit of Mont Royal. In addition, buildings more than 120 meters high are restricted to certain parcels. These measures are intended to ensure that the range of hills remains an important landmark .

A specialty is the Ville intérieure , the widely branched underground city . This is a system of shopping arcades and pedestrian tunnels that extends over an area of ​​twelve square kilometers. It connects ten underground stations and two train stations with hundreds of shops, restaurants and cinemas, with numerous public facilities and with 35% of the residential and 80% of the office space of the Center-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 network of tunnels of its kind in the world.

Until the late 1920s, the height of buildings was limited to eleven stories. The repeal of this regulation made it possible to build the first skyscrapers, with architects favoring the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco architectural styles . Outstanding structures from that era are the Tour de la Banque Royale from 1928 (121 m) and the Édifice Sun Life from 1931 (122 m). In the British Empire , at the time of their opening, they were the tallest building or the building with the largest floor area. Most of the skyscrapers were built in the 1960s, when the international style prevailed. Between 1962 and 1964, three buildings became 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 building construction activity declined noticeably in the following two decades, a third phase began in the 1990s 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.

View of the Center-Ville (Downtown) from Mont Royal

Urban open spaces

The Lac aux Castors in the southern part of the Parc du Mont-Royal

As Montreal's local mountain, Mont Royal is a popular destination for residents and tourists. The Parc du Mont-Royal extends on the eastern slope facing the city center . This 190-hectare wooded park 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-Etienne-Cartier monument . The Mont Royal Cross and the Mont Royal transmission tower are close to the summit . Two extensive cemeteries lie on the west side of Mont-Royal, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery and the Mont-Royal cemetery .

The Parc Jean-Drapeau , the most of the islands of Ile Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame includes, is the former exhibition grounds of the expo 67 . Few of the buildings from that time are still standing today, including the American Expo pavilion Biosphère , a geodesic dome designed by Richard Buckminster Fuller . Another important park is the Parc Maisonneuve in the Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie arrondissement : 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.

Various squares are 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 the Center-Ville.

Sacred buildings

Montreal has over 600 religious buildings of various 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 Church Spiers" (Ville aux cent clochers) . 1881 said the American writer Mark Twain : "This is the first time I was ever in a city where you could not throw a brick without a stained glass window to break" (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 a minor basilica . The St. Joseph's Oratory , located in an exposed 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 distinctive domed structure is Canada's largest church. The Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica , 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 . It was built from 1875 to 1894 and replaced the Saint-Jacques de Montréal cathedral , which was destroyed by fire in 1852. The Saint-Patrick de Montréal basilica was built between 1843 and 1847 as the main church for residents of Irish descent.

The oldest preserved church building in the city center is the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours pilgrimage chapel (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 Greek Catholics or Melkites (Saint-Sauveur), the Maronites (Saint-Maron), the Russian Orthodox (Saints Pierre et Paul) and the Ukrainian Orthodox (Sainte-Sophie).

More Attractions

The architecture of various parts of the city is shaped by ethnic minorities. At the transition between Center-Ville and the old town is the Chinatown (Quartier chinois) , the borders of which are marked by four false gates ( Pailou ). This area was the preferred residential area for Jews until the 1920s. Then the Arrondissement Outremont took over this role; especially in the northern and eastern parts 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.

Panoramic view of Habitat 67 from the harbor

The Arrondissement Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is the location of the Olympic Park with the Montreal Olympic Stadium . It can accommodate 66,000 spectators, making it the largest stadium in Canada. A special 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 cogwheel train. The Habitat 67 , a residential complex on a peninsula in the Saint Lawrence River, is another example of futuristic architecture. It consists of 354 stepped concrete blocks with 158 residential units. Two windmills, the Pointe-aux-Trembles windmill built in 1719 and the Fleming windmill from 1827, are reminiscent of the Île de Montréal's agricultural past .

Economy and Infrastructure

Montreal's economy is characterized by a high degree of diversification . In 2010 in was Administrative Region of Montreal posted gross domestic product (GDP) 102 986 000 000 Canadian dollars , representing 34.5% of the economic output of the province of Quebec. With a GDP per capita of $ 50,012 in 2009, Montreal ranked second among the 17 administrative regions of Québec, behind the resource-rich region of North du Québec . The most important economic sector is by far the service sector with a share of 86% of the workforce, the rest is made up of industry and construction. Between 2000 and 2010 the unemployment rate averaged 10.1%.


Industrial zone with Molson brewery

Several major industrial groups have their headquarters in Montreal. Best known internationally 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 the Édifice Hydro-Québec, supplies the province of Québec and the north-east of the USA with electrical energy. SNC Lavalin is active in the fields of industrial and plant engineering. In the food industry, Molson and Saputo should be mentioned in particular ; the former is the Canadian part of the fifth largest brewery group Molson Coors Brewing Company , the latter Canada's largest producer of dairy products.

Alongside Seattle and Toulouse , the Montreal region is one of the most important centers of the aviation industry . After the USA, France, Great Britain and Germany, Québec is the fifth largest exporter in this industry. 80% of all products are exported. In addition to 15 large companies, over 200 small and medium-sized suppliers have set up shop. 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. In the northeast of the urban area and in the enclave of Montréal-Est there are several oil refineries and petrochemical plants. Among others, the companies Suncor Energy , Gulf Oil , NOVA Chemicals , Shell Canada , Petro-Canada , Basell Polyolefins and Ultramar are represented . The raw materials required 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 .


Headquarters of the ICAO

With over 100,000 employees in more than 3,000 companies, the financial services industry is an important pillar of economic activity. Montreal ranks 13th among the international financial centers, fifth in North America and second behind Toronto in Canada (as of 2018). The headquarters of 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 and was acquired by the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2007 .

Major Montreal media companies 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. Metro Inc. and Provigo are active in the food retail sector, and the drugstore chain Uniprix in pharmaceutical wholesale . The computer game industry generates high added value . At the beginning of the boom, Ubisoft Montreal was founded in 1997 , today one of the world's largest development studios (the company already employed more than 2,700 people in Montreal in 2014). Tax breaks from the provincial government and the presence of numerous skilled workers on site prompted several other game developers to also set up branches here. These include Behavior Interactive , BioWare , Eidos Interactive , Electronic Arts , Strategy First , THQ and Warner Bros. Numerous design companies are also based in Montreal. The city was for this reason in 2006 by the UNESCO for City of Design appointed and the Creative Cities Network added.

Montreal is the seat of more than 60 international organizations , most of which are located in the quarter internationally . 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 Statistical Institute . These organizations generate a lot of conference traffic; numerous conferences and congresses take place, for example in the Palais des congrès de Montréal . The numerous sights and cultural offers also enliven the tourism industry . In 2012, 8.4 million visitors stayed in the city for more than 24 hours.


A variety of media operate out of Montreal, including television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines. The francophone part of the public broadcaster CBC / Radio-Canada is based in the Maison de Radio-Canada , where the most important television and radio programs are also produced. Other French-speaking TV channels are 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 appear in Montreal . The offer is supplemented by the free newspapers 24 heures and Metro as well as various weekly newspapers, student newspapers and local newspapers.

Utilities and public institutions

The water supply is ensured by the Service de l'eau , a joint operation of the administrative region. The drinking water is primarily due to 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 waterworks Atwater and Charles-Jules Des Baillets together provide 88% of the drinking water requirement . Four smaller plants draw water from the Rivière des Prairies and Lac Saint-Louis . The entire sewage of the island in the station J.-R. Marcotte , the third largest sewage treatment plant in North America, cleaned. 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 gave rise to Montreal Light, Heat and Power (MLH & P), which owned the energy monopoly in the region. In 1944 the province of Québec nationalized the MLH & P and transferred the gas and electricity works to the newly founded Hydro-Québec . In 1957 the gas supply was transferred to the semi-state Gaz Métro .

Montreal fire engine

There are four courts in the city that have jurisdiction over violations of Québec's provincial law. The municipal court (Cour municipale) deals primarily with traffic offenses. The courts of first instance for criminal, private and juvenile law as well as the higher court (Cour supérieure) are housed in the Palais de Justice , while the Ernest-Cormier Édifice is one of the provincial courts of appeal. 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 with over 2,700 employees , is active in the same area .

Montreal's hospitals are divided into three groups. The McGill University Health Center is an association of hospitals affiliated with McGill University . In association with the Université de Montréal are the hospitals of the Center hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal ; This also includes the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal founded by Jeanne Mance in 1645 , the oldest hospital on Canadian soil. The third group includes general hospitals operated by the Province of Québec.


Bridges and roads

Due to its island location, Montreal can only be reached by land via bridges and tunnels, which often leads to congestion in road traffic. The oldest bridge was built in 1847 over the Rivière des Prairies to the neighboring Île Jésus , seven years later the first bridge followed over the Ottawa to the mainland. In 1859 the St. Lawrence River was bridged for the first time with the Pont Victoria , which was then the longest bridge in the world . Today there are 24 bridges and three tunnels available for use by road vehicles, railways and subways.

Montreal is the most important highway junction in the province of Québec. The Autoroute 40 crosses the entire Island of Montreal from southwest to northeast, forming a kind of backbone of the road network. Autoroute 20 follows the south bank of the island . From this the Autoroute 520 and the Autoroute 720 branch off , the latter partly opening up the city center underground. Autoroute 10 leads from the city center in an easterly direction . The Autoroute 13 , the Autoroute 15 and the Autoroute 25 produce cross connections . Autoroute 30 has been circumnavigating the urban area extensively in the south since 2012 . The inner-city road network is basically laid out in a grid shape, but the irregular topography results in numerous deviations. In contrast to the rest of the province of Québec, it is not allowed on the Île de Montréal to turn right at traffic lights when there is a red light. Most long-distance bus routes start at the Gare d'autocars de Montréal .

Air travel

Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport (former name: Montréal-Dorval), which opened in 1941, is located in the neighboring municipality of Dorval . He is a hub of Air Canada , and with almost 13 million passengers a year, the traffic third most passenger airport in Canada. 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 the competition from Toronto resulted in low occupancy rates. Since 2004 Mirabel has been used exclusively for freight traffic. 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 fifth most important airport in the country in terms of flight movements.


The port extends north of the city center along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. In 2010 it handled 28 million tons of goods and 46,000 cruise passengers. In terms of the volume of goods, it is the second largest port in Canada and the largest inland port on the American continent. Due to the small height difference to the Atlantic Ocean and the width of the river, ocean-going cargo ships can also head for the port. Icebreakers secure access in winter, while the St. Lawrence Seaway leading to Lake Ontario is frozen over for around three months.


Montreal has been a major hub in the Canadian rail network since the mid-19th century . The state-owned rail company Via Rail , which has its headquarters here, offers train connections to Québec , Ottawa , Toronto and other cities in the Québec-Windsor corridor several times a day . Trains to Gaspé , Halifax , Saguenay and Senneterre run less regularly (three to six times a week) . The Amtrak Adirondack express train runs once a day to New York .

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian National Railway (CN) ceded passenger transport to Via Rail in 1978 and have since concentrated on freight transport. Local industrial companies, marshalling yards and the port ensure a high volume of traffic. The CPR moved its headquarters to Calgary in 1996 , the CN is still based in Montreal. Other freight rail companies that serve Montreal include the Delaware and Hudson Railway , the Chemins de fer Québec-Gatineau and the Central Maine and Quebec Railway . The starting point for all long-distance trains is the Gare Centrale , which replaced several CN train stations in 1943. Access from the west is through the 5.2 kilometer long Mont-Royal tunnel . The Gare Windsor , who in 1889 opened CPR main railway station, was closed 1,993th

Local public transport

The state authority Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) is responsible for planning all local public transport in the Montreal metropolitan area. It commissions the transport company exo to operate bus routes and a S-Bahn-like rail service to the suburbs: The Trains de banlieue run on five lines and connect Montreal with various cities in the region. The terminus in the city center are Gare Centrale and Gare Lucien-L'Allier .

The transport company Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is responsible for the operation of local public transport within the city and in some neighboring communities on the Île de Montréal . The most important means of transport is the Montreal Metro , a 69 kilometer long subway network with four lines, one of which each leads to Laval and Longueuil . The metro is used by more than 1.1 million passengers every day, making it the busiest metro in Canada. Special features of the metro are the design of numerous stations with works of art and the use of rubber-tyred trains. The Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is currently under construction , a 67 km long route network on which a driverless light subway will run from 2022 ; the REM will connect Montreal with 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 fine development. By far the largest bus station in the city is the Terminus Center-ville operated by the AMT , the terminus of numerous bus routes to the southern and eastern suburbs.

The history of public transportation in Montreal dates back to 1861 when the Montreal Street Railway Company opened the first horse-drawn tram . From 1884 to 1918 a funicular went up Mont Royal , and in 1892 the first electric tram ran . The first bus line started operating in 1919, and the rapidly growing network was supplemented by trolleybuses from 1937 to 1966 . After the city took over the private tram company in 1950, it closed all routes until 1959. The first section of the metro was opened in 1966.

Bicycle traffic

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 network of bike trails over 4,300 kilometers long . Since 2009, the Bixi bike rental system has provided more than 5000 bikes at over 400 rental stations.


McGill University's Art Faculty

The oldest university in the city is the English-speaking 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 is regularly at the top of various university rankings. The English-speaking Concordia University was founded in 1974 when Sir George Williams University and Jesuit Loyola College were secularized and merged.

The oldest French-speaking university in Montreal and the second largest in Canada with 55,000 students is the Université de Montréal (UdeM). Founded in 1878 as a branch of the Québec- based Université Laval , it became self-employed in 1920. The UdeM was secularized in 1967. The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), which belongs to the network of the Université du Québec , is also French-speaking . It has existed since 1969 when the provincial government merged four universities 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 affiliated with the UdeM . The John Molson School of Business is in association with Concordia University , while the engineering college École de technologie supérieure , the administrative college École nationale d'administration publique and the research institute Institut national de la recherche scientifique are in association 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 in French and two in English. There are also several private secondary schools. Traditionally, the school system in Québec was denominationally separated. As part of a secular school reform , there was a reallocation according to linguistic criteria. Since 1998, five new school boards have been operating in the Montreal administrative region, responsible for kindergartens, 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 . The supervision is carried out by school councils who are elected by the residents of the supervised areas.

The Bibliothèques publiques de Montréal are a network of 43 public libraries in the administrative region of Montreal. The largest library in the city is the Grande Bibliothèque , the main facility of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec . The Jewish Public Library owns North America's largest collection of Judaica .


Montreal is known for its diverse cultural scene and is known as 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, additionally enriched by cultural influences from various immigrant groups. Another specialty of Montreal is the lively inner city (atypical for North America). This is particularly evident in the summer with numerous festivals and other cultural and social events. The Quartier des Spectacles is considered 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 . 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 science museum Center des sciences de Montréal , the environmental museum Biosphère and the Biodôme de 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 Museum deals with the history of Canada , the Redpath Museum with natural history , ethnology and archeology . At the former location of Fort Ville-Marie is the Musée Pointe-à-Callière , a museum about 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 take place in the factory owner's villa Château Dufresne , while the Musée Stewart in Fort de l'Île Sainte-Hélène specializes in military history. The victims of the Holocaust reminds Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center .

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 the history of architecture, 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.

Theater and film

Place des Arts cultural center

There are numerous theaters , with French-language productions predominating. The Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles is the most important center for the performing and visual arts and includes, among other things, five theaters. There is a particularly high density of theaters in the adjacent university district, the Latin Quarter . The most famous theaters 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 Theater , the former stock exchange building. Several theaters jointly serve as the venue for the Juste pour rire comedy festival .

The Montreal World Film Festival is the only film festival with competition in North America, the International Film Producers Association FIAPF accredited. 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 on films from Québec and the FanTasia on films in the fields of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The Cinémathèque québécoise film archive conserves and documents films and television programs. Montreal is also home to the National Film Board of Canada .

music and dance

The Place des Arts cultural center also offers classical music concert halls. The two symphony orchestras Orchester symphonique de Montréal and Orchester Métropolitain as well as the Opéra de Montréal are domiciled 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 famous musicians such as Maynard Ferguson , Oliver Jones and Oscar Peterson . The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is one of the leading jazz festivals in the world with over 3,000 participating musicians, 800 concerts and 2.5 million visitors.

Numerous representatives of the local rock and pop scene have gained prominence, be it in French or English. These include the solo artists Isabelle Boulay , Leonard Cohen , Robert Charlebois , Celine Dion , Diane Dufresne and Marie-Mai as well as the 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 Pop Montréal Festival is spread over fifty locations with around 400 concerts. 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 numbered tens of thousands of visitors . On Sunday afternoons in summer, several hundred drummers and dancers gather at the George-Étienne-Cartier monument for the tam-tams .

Montreal is the headquarters of the circus company Cirque du Soleil , whose productions are based on artistic and theatrical elements. The TOHU is a training center for circus artists and producers supported by Cirque du Soleil. The Grands Ballets Canadiens are a ballet company with an international ensemble. The Agora de la danse and the Segal Center for Performing Arts offer other dance and theater productions .

free time activities

The city has a diverse nightlife with the longest opening times in Canada. International broadcasting began in the 1920s when Prohibition was in effect in the United States . Numerous Americans came to Montreal at the time to enjoy alcohol and gambling, as well as in nightclubs and brothels. The reputation of being a Sin City ("City of Sins") has remained to this day. Today, the nightlife is mainly concentrated in six locations: Le Plateau-Mont-Royal , Rue Crescent, Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rue McGill, Quartier Latin and Village gai (gay and lesbian district).

At the northern tip of Île Sainte-Hélène is La Ronde , an amusement park operated by Six Flags with several roller coasters. In summer it is also the venue for the fireworks competition L'International des Feux Loto-Québec . Its main sponsor, the Loto-Québec lottery company, has been operating the Casino de Montréal , one of the ten largest in the world and one of four casinos in the province, in the former Expo pavilions of France and Quebec on the Île Notre-Dame since 1993 .


The McGill University played a leading role in the development of several modern sports. The first fixed-rules rugby game on North American soil took place in Montreal in 1865 between British officers and McGill students. In 1874, McGill and Harvard Universities faced each other in two football-like games with different rules. The resulting compromise rules formed the basis for American football and Canadian football . The student James Creighton organized the first indoor ice hockey game in 1875 and further developed the ice hockey rules. The first ice hockey club was founded in 1877. James Naismith , a McGill graduate, invented the rules of basketball in 1891 and is often referred to as the inventor of the football helmets.

The Canadiens ice hockey game against the Boston Bruins

The public's interest in ice hockey in Montreal has always been very high, so that the city is also known as the “world capital of ice hockey”. Six different teams were able to win the Stanley Cup , the most important trophy in this sport, 41 times . The record champions with 24 titles are the Canadiens de Montréal . They belong to the North American professional league National Hockey League and play their home games at the Bell Center . The Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League have won the Gray Cup seven times , the Canadian Football Championship. Their home stadium is the Stade Percival-Molson , and the Alouettes use the Olympic Stadium for play-off games . A major user of the Olympic Stadium was also the baseball team Montreal Expos , a franchise of Major League Baseball , which after 2005 Washington DC moved. Montreal Impact currently plays in the top-class football professional league Major League Soccer .

The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve , a roughly 4.4 kilometers long temporary motorsport racetrack on the Île Notre-Dame , has hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada since 1978 . NASCAR races of the Xfinity Series have also been held there since 2007 . An internationally significant tennis tournament is the Canada Masters (also known as the Rogers Cup), which is held jointly with Toronto , with the cities alternating each year in organizing the men's and women's tournaments; The venue in Montreal is the Stade IGA . The Royal Montreal Golf Club occasionally organizes the RBC Canadian Open , a golf tournament as part of the PGA Tour . Annual sporting events also include the Montreal Marathon and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal road bike race . The sporting event with the greatest international impact was the 1976 Summer Olympics . The 1974 road cycling world championships , the 1985 world gymnastics championships , the 2005 swimming world championships and the 2006 outgames took place in Montreal .

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 . There are also several dozen indoor and outdoor pools . In winter, many are ice rinks and 170 km cross-country skiing - trails available. The Lachine Rapids create several permanent standing waves . Especially the wave Habitat 67 , located near the residential area of the same name , is very popular with whitewater paddlers , rafters and river surfers .


Montreal is the birthplace and place of work of numerous prominent personalities, for example the writers 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 . German comedian Anke Engelke and 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 development of the city well into the 20th century. Some of them became known mainly through other activities, for example the future Prime Minister of Canada John Abbott and the journalist and writer Honoré Beaugrand . Camillien Houde had four terms of office totaling 18 years between 1928 and 1954. He led Montreal through the Great Depression and was imprisoned without charge from 1940 to 1944 after he had spoken out publicly against the introduction of conscription. Jean Drapeau was the longest in office , from 1954 to 1957 and from 1960 to 1986. During this time, the construction of skyscrapers and metro as well as the organization of the world exhibition Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympic Games fall.

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 Québec). The most important business representatives include the shipowner Montagu Allan , the press magnate Conrad Black and the brewery entrepreneur John Molson . The will of the fur trader James McGill enabled the establishment of the McGill University named after him . Two chemists from Montreal, Sidney Altman and Rudolph Arthur Marcus , received the Nobel Prize .


  • Paul-André Linteau: Histoire de Montréal depuis la Confédération . Éditions Boréal, Montreal 1992, ISBN 2-89052-441-8 .
  • Stéphane Castonguay, Michèle Dagenais: Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal . University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh 2011, ISBN 978-0-8229-4402-7 .
  • Gilles Havard: The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701. French-Native Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century . McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal / Kingston 2001, ISBN 978-0-7735-2219-0 .
  • Robert David Lewis: Manufacturing Montreal. The Making of an Industrial Landscape, 1850 to 1930 . Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2000, ISBN 0-8018-6349-X .
  • Filippo Salvatore: Fascism and the Italians of Montreal. An Oral History 1992-1945 . Guernica Editions, Montreal 1995, ISBN 1-55071-058-3 .
  • Serge Jaumain, Paul-André Linteau: Vivre en Ville. Bruxelles et Montréal aux XIXe et XXe siècles , Brussels 2006, ISBN 1-55071-058-3 .

Web links

Commons : Montreal  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Montreal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
 Wikinews: Montreal  - on the news
Wikivoyage: Montreal  Travel Guide

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