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Encyclopedia > Montreal, Quebec
For other uses, see Montreal (disambiguation).
Ville de Montréal, Québec, Canada
City flag City coat of arms
City motto: "Concordia Salus (Salvation through harmony)"

Location in the province of Quebec

Area 500.05 km² (310 mi²)

 - City (2001)
 - Canadian CD Rank
 - Canadian Municipal Rank
 - Density

Ranked 3rd
Ranked 2nd

Time zone Eastern: UTC-5


45°28' N

73°45' W

Mayor Gérald Tremblay
Governing body Montreal City Council

Montreal or Montréal1 (IPA: /mʌntɹiˈɑl/ in Canadian English, /mɔ̃ʁeˈal/ in French) is a major Canadian city. With a population of 1,812,723 people it is the largest city in the province of Quebec, of which it constitutes an administrative region. 3,607,000 people live in the Montreal metropolitan area (Statistics Canada 2004 estimate), making it Canada's second most populous city after Toronto.

Montreal is the second-largest city in the world and largest city in the Americas where the majority of the population is francophone. (Kinshasa, capital of the officially French-speaking country of DR Congo, is larger, but most of its population speaks Lingala.) Montreal has a substantial anglophone minority and an increasing population of allophones (those whose first language is neither English nor French), including both ethnic communities with deep historical roots, and substantial numbers of recent immigrants of whom a substantial number are integrated into the French-speaking community.

Montreal is situated in the southwest of Quebec, approximately 200 kilometres (122 miles) southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of Ottawa, the federal capital. The city sits on the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence River and Ottawa River; the island divides the Saint Lawrence between the main channel and Rivière des Prairies. The city also includes a total of 74 nearby islands such as Île des Soeurs, Île Bizard, Île Sainte-Hélène, and Île Notre-Dame. The city is spread over an area of 482.84 km2 (300 square miles).

The Montreal skyline


Main article: History of Montreal

The area known today as Montreal had been inhabited by the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois for thousands of years before the arrival of the first Europeans. The first European to reach the area was Jacques Cartier. He reached the area after speaking to a Iroquois chief in present-day Quebec City who told him of a shiny stone upstream from his village. Cartier listened to him, and believed he was describing gold, which lead him to the village of Hochelaga, on the Island of Montreal. The local Iroquois took him to the top of Mont Royal and Cartier planted the first of the mountaintop's famous crosses in honour of Francis I, his sponsor. Unfortunately for Cartier, the shiny stone turned out to be quartz, not gold.

Seventy years after Cartier, Samuel de Champlain went to Hochelaga but the village no longer existed. He decided to establish a fur trading post at Port Royale on the Island of Montreal, but the local Iroquois successfully defended their land. It was not until 1639 that a permanent settlement was created on the Island of Montreal by a French tax collector named Jérôme Le Royer. Under the authority of the Roman Catholic Société Notre-Dame, missionaries Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and a few French colonists set up a mission named Ville Marie as part of a project to create a colony dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In November of 1653, another 140 individuals arrived to enlarge the settlement that eventually became known as Montréal.

Ville Marie became a centre for the fur trade, and the Iroquois resumed their attacks on the settlement. Despite the continuous attacks, Ville Marie prospered as a centre for the Catholic religion and the fur trade, as well as a base for further exploration into New France until a peace treaty was signed in 1701 between the Iroquois and the French. A few buildings from this era remain in the area known today as Vieux Montreal and in a few places around the island.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the French and Indian War and France chose to keep Guadaloupe instead of its Quebec colony. Now a British colony, and with immigration no longer limited to members of the Roman Catholic religion, the city began to grow from British immigration. In 1775, American Revolutionists briefly held the city but soon left when it became apparent that they could not take and hold Canada. More and more English-speaking merchants continued to arrive in what had by then become known as Montreal and soon the main language of commerce in the city was English. The golden era of fur trading began in the city with the advent of the locally-owned North West Company, the main rival to the primarily British Hudson's Bay Company.

From the early part of the 18th century, the Scotch-Québécois immigrants who chose to make Montreal their home played a key role in the city's cultural, scientific, and business life. Although at their peak, the Scots made up only a small percentage of Montreal's population, they had an impact on the city far beyond their numbers. Scots were instrumental in building the Lachine Canal that turned the city of 16,000 inhabitants into one of the most important and prosperous ports in North America. It was also Scots who constructed Montreal's first bridge across the Saint Lawrence River and who founded many of the city's great industries, including Henry Morgan (a merchant who built the first department store in Canada), the Bank of Montreal, Redpath Sugar, and both of Canada's national railroads. The city boomed as railways were built to New England, Toronto, and the west, and factories were established along the Lachine Canal. Many buildings from this time period are concentrated in the area known today as Vieux Montreal. Noted for their philanthropic work, Scots established and funded numerous Montreal institutions such as McGill University, the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec and the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Montreal courthouse in 1880

Montreal was the capital of the United Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, bringing even more English-speaking immigrants: Late Loyalists, Irish, Scottish, and English. The now large and wealthy Anglophone community built one of Canada's first universities, McGill, and built large mansions at the foot of Mont Royal. The economic boom also attracted thousands of immigrants from Italy, Russia, Eastern Europe, and other parts of French Canada. By 1860,Montreal was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.

Montrealers volunteered to serve in the army to defend Canada during World War I, but most French Montrealers opposed mandatory conscription. After the war, the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montreal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol. Americans would go to Montreal for drinking, gambling, and prostitution, which earned the city the nickname "Sin City." Despite the increase in tourism, unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. However, Canada began to exit the Great Depression in the mid 1930s, and real estate developers began to build skyscrapers, changing Montreal's skyline. The Sun Life Building, built in 1931, was for a time the tallest building in the Commonwealth. During World War II its vaults were the secret hiding place of the gold bullion of the Bank of England and the British Crown Jewels.

Vieux Montreal in 2004

Canada could not escape World War II. Mayor Camillien Houde protested against conscription. He urged Montrealers to ignore the federal government's registry of all men and women because he believed it would lead to conscription. Ottawa was furious over Houde's insubordination and put him in a prison camp until 1944, when the government was forced to institute conscription (see Conscription Crisis of 1944).

After the population of Montreal surpassed one million in the early 1950s, Mayor Jean Drapeau laid down great plans for the future development of the city. In 1958 he started development projects that had provisions for a new metro system and an underground city, the expansion of Montreal's harbour, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. New buildings were built on top of old ones in this time period, including Montreal's two tallest skyscrapers up to then: the 43-storey Place Ville-Marie and the 47-storey Tour de la Bourse. Two new museums were also built, and finally in 1967 the metro opened along with several new expressways in time for Expo '67, which was held in Montreal and was anticipated to attract 50 million visitors. A new major league baseball team, called the Montreal Expos, was named after the Expo and started playing in Montreal in 1969. The Summer Olympics were held in Montreal in 1976. Except for a few years during the 1960s, Drapeau was the mayor until the mid-1980s and brought Montreal into a new era even as Toronto overtook it as the economic centre of Canada.

Montreal celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1992, which prompted the establishment of new development projects, including the two tallest skyscrapers in the city: 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. More museums, neighbourhood rehabilitation, and an expansion of the Metro are under development.

City government

The head of the city government in Montreal is the mayor, who is first among equals in the City Council. The current mayor is Gérald Tremblay who is a member of The Montreal Island Citizens Union. The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the primary decision-making authority in the city. It consists of 73 members from all boroughs of the city.

The council has jurisdiction over many matters including public security, agreements with governments, subsidy programs, the environment, urban planning, and three-year capital expenditure program. The council is also required to supervise, standardise or approve certain decisions made by the borough councils.

Reporting directly to the city council, the executive committee exercises the decision-making powers appropriate to it and is responsible for preparing various documents including budgets and by-laws, submitted by the city council for approval.

The decision-making powers of the executive committee cover, in particular, the awarding of contracts or grants, the management of human and financial resources, supplies and buildings. It may also be assigned further powers by the city council.

Standing committees are the council's instruments for public consultations. They are responsible for the public study of pending matters and for making the appropriate recommendations to the council. They also review the annual budget forecasts for departments under their jurisdiction. A public notice of meeting is published in both French and English daily newspapers at least seven days before each meeting. All meetings include a public question period.

The current standing committees have a two-year term. There are seven standing committees. In addition, the city council may decide to create special committees at any time. Each standing committee is made up of seven to nine members, including a chairman and a vice-chairman. The members are all elected municipal officers, with the exception of a representative of the government of Québec on the public security committee.

See also: Parliamentary representation in Montreal, 2004


Montreal as seen from space (false-colour image)

Thanks to competing climactic influences, the climate in Montreal varies greatly, both by season and from day to day, and is considered a character of the city by Montrealers.

Precipitation is abundant, with an average snowfall of 2.4 metres per year in the winter and regular rainfall throughout the year. Each year the city government spends more than $50 million on snow removal. Frequent thunderstorms make summer the wettest season statistically, but it is also the sunniest.

The coldest month is January, with a daily average of -10.4°C (13°F). Due to wind chill, the perceived temperature can be much lower than the actual temperature, and wind chill temperatures are often included in weather forecasts. The warmest month is July, with a daily average of 20.9°C (70°F). The lowest temperature ever recorded is -37.8°C (-36°F) in January of 1957, and the highest temperature ever was 37.6°C (100°F) in August of 1975.

Moderate to high humidity is common in the summer. In spring and autumn, temperatures and precipitation amounts average between 55-94mm (2.5-4 inches) a month. Some snow in spring and autumn is normal. Similarly, early heat waves as well as "Indian summer" are a regular feature of the climate. [1] (http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/climatology/monthly/CAXX0301)

Despite its widely varying climate, the Montreal region supports a diverse array of plants and wildlife. The maple is one of the most common trees, and the sugar maple in particular is an enduring symbol of Montreal and Quebec, thanks to the production of maple syrup.


The Chinatown gate on boulevard Saint-Laurent

Main article: Demographics of Montreal

The greater Montreal area has a population of 3,607,000 people (Statistics Canada 2004), including the neighbouring major cities of Laval and Longueuil, among other smaller cities. Montreal proper is home to about 1.6 million people after the demerger referendum of June 2004, which comes into effect on 1 January 2006. A resident of Montreal is known as a Montrealer in English, and a Montréalais(e) in French. Residents sometimes refer to the city by the shorthand name of MTL.

Most Montrealers speak French as their first language[2] (http://www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/demo14b.htm); a sizeable minority speak English, but a majority of residents have at least a working knowledge of both languages.[3] (http://www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/demo18a.htm) This trend has increased after the French language reforms of the 1970s.

However, a few residents of Montreal speak neither English nor French as their first language as they are immigrants. About 18.4% of the population of the Greater Montreal Area are allophone (they have neither French nor English as their mother tongue) and 13.8% are native anglophone. The remaining 67.8% are francophone. On the Island of Montreal, the percentage of anglophones totals 18.8% while the total of allophones is 27.7%. A majority of allophones speak French or English as a second language. A May 2004 survey noted that 53% of the people in Montreal speak both French and English, while 37% speak only French and 7% speak only English.

While the official language of Montreal is French, services are also commonly offered in English in downtown and tourist areas as well as in areas designated as bilingual boroughs. The city has well-established Italian, Jewish, Greek, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Haitian, and Portuguese communities, along with smaller communities of people from almost every nation in the world.

Each of the many neighbourhoods in the city has a predominant language. The parts of the city that lie to the west of Boulevard St.-Laurent can be said to be predominantly Anglophone, while the neighbourhoods to the east are predominantly Francophone. Speakers of both languages are found in all parts of the city. Westmount, on the southwestern slopes of Mont Royal, is traditionally the home of wealthy Anglophones, while Outremont, on the opposite side, is the home of wealthy Francophones. Montreal is the home or former home of multiple famous people, including two prime ministers, many well known artists and musicians, and a number of politicians.

See also: List of famous Montrealers


Avenue McGill College in downtown Montreal

Once the largest city in Canada, Montreal remains a vibrant major centre of commerce, industry, culture, finance, and world affairs. Montreal is a major port city, being at the start of the Saint Lawrence Seaway a deep-draft inland waterway which links it to the industrial centres of the Great Lakes. As one of the most important ports in Canada, it is a transshipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. For this reason, it is part of the railway backbone of Canada and has always been an extremely important rail city; it is the eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway and home to the headquarters of the Canadian National Railway.

Montreal industries include pharmaceuticals, high technology, textile and clothing manufacturing, electronic goods, transportation devices, printed goods, fabric, and tobacco.

Communications and media

Montreal has a large and well developed communications system, including several English and French language television stations, newspapers, radio stations, and magazines.

Television Stations


  • Bharat Times (English)
  • Golos Obszhini (Russian)
  • Matin (French)
  • Messager Verdun (French)
  • Monitor (English)
  • Montreal Community Contact (English)
  • Quebecois Libre (French)
  • Voix Populaire (French)

Radio stations

Band Frequency Code Station name Language
FM 88.5 MHz CBME CBC Radio One (http://www.cbc.ca/programguide/radio/) English
FM 89.3 MHz CISM CISM (http://www.cismfm.qc.ca/) French
FM 90.3 MHZ CKUT CKUT (http://www.ckut.ca/) English
FM 91.3 MHz CIRA Radio Ville-Marie (http://www.radiovm.com/fr/accueil/index.asp?state=Montreal) French
FM 91.9 MHz CKLX Couleur Jazz (http://www.couleurjazz.com/) French
FM 92.5 MHz CFQR Q92 (http://www.q92fm.com/) English
FM 93.5 MHz CBM CBC Radio Two (http://www.cbc.ca/programguide/radio/) English
FM 94.3 MHz CKMF Radio-énergie (http://www.radioenergie.com/) French
FM 95.1 MHz CBF Radio-Canada, Première Chaîne (http://www.radio-canada.ca/radio/index.html) French
FM 95.9 MHz CJFM MIX 96 (http://www.themix.com/) English
FM 96.9 MHz CKOI CKOI FM (http://www.ckoi.com/) French
FM 97.7 MHz CHOM The Spirit Of Rock (http://www.chom.com/) English
FM 98.5 MHz CKOO 98,5 FM (http://www.985fm.ca/) French
FM 99.5 MHz CJPX Radio classique (http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com/attraits/radio.asp) French
FM 99.9 MHz WBTZ The Buzz (http://www.999thebuzz.com/) English
FM 100.7 MHz CBF-FM Radio-Canada, Espace Musique (http://www.radio-canada.ca/radio2/index.shtml) French
FM 101.5 MHz CIBL La Radio Libre! (http://www.cibl.cam.org/) French
FM 102.3 MHz CINQ Radio Centre-Ville (http://www.radiocentreville.com/) Multiple
FM 105.7 MHz CFGL Rythme FM (http://www.rythmefm.com/) French
FM 107.3 MHz CITE Cité Rock Détente (http://www.rockdetente.com/) French
AM 690 kHz CINF Info 690 (http://www.info690.com/) French
AM 730 kHz CKAC CKAC (http://www.ckac.com/) French
AM 800 kHz CJAD CJAD (http://www.cjad.com/) English
AM 940 kHz CINW 940 News (http://www.940news.com/) English
AM 990 kHz CKGM The Team (http://www.team990.com/) English
AM 1040 kHz CJMS CJMS (http://www.cjms.ca/) French
AM 1280 kHz CFMB CFMB (http://www.cfmb.ca/) English
AM 1340 kHz WIRY Hometown Radio (http://www.wiry.com/) English
AM 1570 kHz CFAV Radio Nostalgie (http://www.nostalgie1570.com/) French
AM 1610 kHz CPAM Radio Union (http://www.cpam-radiounion.com/) French

Places in Montreal

Skyline of downtown Montreal, seen across the Saint Lawrence from Île Sainte-Hélène

Downtown Montreal (Centre-Ville) is at the foot of Mount Royal, whose expanse forms a major urban park. Downtown contains dozens of notable skyscrapers, including 1000 de La Gauchetière, 1250 René-Lévesque, and Ieoh Ming Pei's Place Ville-Marie. This cruciform office tower built in 1962 sits atop an underground shopping mall which forms the nexus of Montreal's underground city, one of the world's largest, with indoor access to over 1,600 shops, restaurants, offices, and businesses, as well as metro stations, transportation termini, and tunnels extending all over downtown.

Southeast of downtown is Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal), a historic centre with such attractions as the Old Port, Place Jacques-Cartier, City Hall, Place d'Armes, and Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica.

Montreal was host of one of the most successful World's Fairs in history, Expo '67. Partially based upon the success of the World's Fair, Montreal was awarded the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Stadium has the world's tallest inclined tower and, until the end of the 2004 season, was the home of the Montreal Expos baseball team. Montreal is also home to the Montreal Canadiens, the local hockey team. The Olympic complex also includes a modern ecology museum, an insectarium, and the Jardin botanique de Montréal, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, second only to Kew Gardens in England.

Montreal is the centre of Québécois and a major centre of Canadian culture in general. It has many specialised museums such as the Redpath Museum, the McCord Museum of Canadian History, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The Place des Arts cultural complex houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and several theatres, and is the seat of the Montreal Opera and for the moment the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which is scheduled to receive a new concert hall adjacent to Place des Arts.

Nicknamed "the city of saints," Montreal is renowned for its churches, causing Mark Twain to comment: "This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window." The city has four Roman Catholic basilicas: Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral, Notre-Dame Basilica, St. Patrick's Basilica, and St. Joseph's Oratory. This last is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. Other well-known churches include the pilgrimage church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours which is sometimes called the Sailors' Church, and the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, which was completely excavated and suspended in mid-air during the construction of part of the Underground City. All of the above are major tourist destinations, particularly Notre-Dame and the Oratory.

Montreal is the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body, and of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Montreal has a small Chinatown (Quartier chinois), just south of downtown, featuring Chinese shops and restaurants, as well as a number of Vietnamese establishments.

Montreal has one of the largest gay and lesbian populations per capita in the world, nearly 15% of the population, and as a result it is home to a large gay village located downtown and known in French as le Village gai. Montreal is an epicentre of Queer life and culture in Canada, and hosts several circuit parties every year. The 2006 World outGames are to be held in Montreal.


Montreal is the site of the Canadian Grand Prix, a Formula One auto race held annually at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame. Montreal also hosts the

  Results from FactBites:
Montreal, Quebec - definition of Montreal, Quebec in Encyclopedia (3716 words)
Montreal is the second largest city in the world after Paris where the majority of the population is francophone, however there is also a large native anglophone minority as well.
Montreal is situated in the southwest of Quebec, approximately 200 kilometres (122 miles) southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of Ottawa, the federal capital.
Montreal boasts having one of the largest Gay and Lesbian populations per capita in the world, nearly 15% of the population, and as a result it is home to a large gay village located downtown and known in French as le Village gai.
Montreal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (5336 words)
Montreal is one of Canada's most important cultural centres and is a major global city, hosting a multitude of international festivals and events including the XXI Summer Olympiad, Juste pour Rire, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, and many others.
Montreal is situated in the southwestern corner of Quebec approximately 270 kilometres southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 190 kilometres east of Ottawa, the federal capital.
Montreal was merged with the 27 surrounding communities on the Island of Montreal on 1 January 2002.
  More results at FactBites »



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