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—  City  —
Ville de Montréal
Skyline of Montreal


Coat of arms

Motto: Concordia Salus ("well-being through harmony")
Montreal is located in Quebec
Coordinates: 45°30′N 73°40′W
Country  Canada
Province   Quebec
Regional County Montreal
Founded 1642
Established 1832
 •  Mayor Gérald Tremblay
 • City 365.13 km2 (140.98 sq mi)
 • Urban 1,677 km2 (647 sq mi)
 • Metro 4,259 km2 (1,644 sq mi)
Highest elevation 233 m (764 ft)
Lowest elevation 6 m (20 ft)
Population (2006)
 • City 1,620,693 ( 2nd)
 • Density 4,439/km2 (11,496/sq mi)
 •  Urban 3,316,615
 •  Metro 3,635,571 ( 2nd)
 • Metro density 854/km2 (2,210/sq mi)
 • Demonym Montrealer (English),
Montréalais / Montréalaise (French)
Time zone EST ( UTC−5)
 • Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC−4)
Postal code span H
Area code(s) 514, 438, and 450, 579 (metro)
Website City of Montreal

Montreal ( / ˌ m ʌ n t r i ˈ ɔː l /; French: Montréal pronounced [mɔ̃ʁeˈal]) is the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", the city takes its present name from Mont-Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city, whose name was also initially given to the island on which the city is located, or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French, (Mont Royal in present French).

As of July 2009, Statistics Canada identifies Montreal's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) (land area 4,259 square kilometres (1,644 sq mi)) as Canada's second most populous with an estimated metropolitan area population of 3,814,700, and a population of 1,906,811 in the "agglomeration" of Montreal, which includes all of the municipalities on the island of Montreal. The city of Montreal proper had a population of 1,620,693 (as of 2006 census).

French is the city's official language and is also spoken language at home by 59.8% of the population, followed by English at 19.4% (as of 2006 census). In the larger Montreal Census Metropolitan Area, 67.9% of the population speak French at home, compared to 16.5% who speak English. More than half of the population reports being able to speak both English and French. Montreal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Although a few francophone African cities are bigger in size, notably Kinshasa, Algiers, and Abidjan, these cities' inhabitants speak French as a second language.

Montreal is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities, was called "Canada's Cultural Capital" by Monocle Magazine and recently was named a UNESCO City of Design. Though historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population, as well as economic strength, by Toronto after 1976. Today it continues as an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, culture, tourism, film and world affairs.

In 2010, Montreal was named a hub city, ranked 34th globally out of 289 cities for innovation across multiple sectors of the urban economy, in the Innovation Cities Index by 2thinknow. Montreal was the next Canadian city in the annual index behind nexus city Toronto in 12th place and ahead of fellow hub cities Calgary, Quebec City, Vancouver and Edmonton. In 2009, Montreal was named North America's number one host city for international association events, according to the 2009 preliminary rankings of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).


The Montreal Harbour in 1889.
View from Mount Royal ( Photochrom print, 1902)
Saint Jacques Street (formerly Saint James Street), in 1910

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

Seventy years later, French explorer Samuel de Champlain reported that the St. Lawrence Iroquoians and their settlements had disappeared altogether from the St. Lawrence valley, possibly due to outmigration, epidemic of European diseases, or intertribal wars. In 1611 Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal, on a site initially named La Place Royale. At the confluence of Petite Rivière and St. Lawrence River, it is where present-day Pointe-à-Callière stands. In 1639, Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to establish a Roman Catholic mission for evangelizing natives. Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve was the governor of the colony.

Ville-Marie became a centre for the fur trade and a base for further French exploration in North America. By the early 18th century, the Sulpician Order was established there. To encourage French settlement, they wanted the Mohawk to move away from the fur trading post at Ville-Marie. They persuaded them to make a new settlement at their former hunting grounds north of the Ottawa River. This became Kanesatake. The Canadian territory remained a French colony until 1760, when it was surrendered to Great Britain after their victory in the Seven Years War.

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The opening of the Lachine Canal permitted ships to bypass the unnavigable Lachine Rapids, while the construction of the Victoria Bridge established Montreal as a major railway hub. By 1860, it was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.

Montreal was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, but lost its status when a Tory mob burnt down the Parliament building to protest the passage of the Rebellion Losses Bill. For strategic reasons, Ottawa, further toward the interior of the nation, was then established as the capital.

After World War I, the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montreal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol. Unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.

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

By 1951, Montreal's population had surpassed one million people. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, allowing vessels to bypass Montreal. In time this development led to the end of the city's economic dominance. However, the 1960s saw continued growth, including Expo 67, the construction of Canada's tallest skyscrapers, new expressways and the Montreal Metro system.

The 1970s ushered in a period of wide-ranging social and political changes, stemming in large part from the concerns of the French-Canadian majority about the conservation of their culture and language, given the traditional predominance of the English-Canadian minority in the business arena. The October Crisis and the election of the Parti Québécois, supporting sovereign status for Quebec, resulted in the departure of many businesses and people from the city. In 1976, Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Montreal experienced a slower rate of economic growth than many other major Canadian cities. By the late 1990s, however, Montreal's economic climate had improved, as new firms and institutions began to fill the traditional business and financial niches.

Montreal was merged with the 27 surrounding municipalities on the Island of Montreal on January 1, 2002. The merger created a unified city of Montreal which covered the entire island of Montreal. There was great resistance from the suburbs to be merged, with the perception that the merger was being forced on the mostly English suburbs by the Parti Quebecois. As expected, this move proved unpopular and several mergers would later be undone. Several former municipalities, totalling 13% of the population of the island, voted to leave the newly unified city in separate referendums in June 2004. The demerger took place on January 1, 2006, leaving 15 municipalities on the island, including Montreal. De-merged municipalities remain, however, affiliated with the city through an agglomeration council that collects taxes from them to pay for numerous shared services.


Montreal is located in the southwest of the province of Quebec. The city proper covers most of the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The port of Montreal lies at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which is the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean. Montreal is defined by its location in between the St. Lawrence river on its south, and by the Rivière des Prairies on its north. The city is named after the most prominent geographical feature on the island, a three-head hill called Mount Royal, topped at 232 m above sea level.

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


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

Bonsecours Market in autumn.

Montreal's summers are warm, but often muggy with average high temperatures of 26°C (79°F) and low of 16°C (61°F), temperatures frequently exceed 30°C (86°F). Winter in Montreal usually brings very cold, snowy, windy, and at times, icy weather, with an average high temperature of -5°C (23°F) and lows of -13°C (9°F). However, some winter days rise above freezing even at times allowing for rain, while others dip well below -20°C (-4°F)

Spring and fall are pleasantly mild but are prone to drastic temperature changes. Late season heat waves as well as " Indian summers" are a common occurrence as well as snow storms in November, March and April.

The lowest temperature ever recorded was −37.8 °C (−36 °F) on January 15, 1957, and the highest temperature was 37.6 °C (100 °F) on August 1, 1975.

Annual precipitation is around 98 cm (39 in), including an average 218 cm (86 in) of snowfall, which occurs from November through March. Thunderstorms are common beginning in the late spring through summer to early fall period, additionally, tropical storm remnants can cause heavy rains. The city gets over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, with summer being the sunniest, but is also the slightly wetter season.


Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal.
La Joute on Place Jean-Paul Riopelle in the Quartier international de Montréal.

For over a century and a half, Montreal was the industrial and financial centre of Canada. The variety of buildings included factories, elevators, warehouses, mills, and refineries which today provide a legacy of historic and architectural interest, especially in the downtown area and the Old Port area.

Today there are also many historic buildings in Old Montreal still in their original form: Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica, Bonsecours Market, and the impressive 19th century headquarters of all major Canadian banks on St. James Street (French: Rue Saint Jacques). Saint Joseph's Oratory, completed in 1967, Ernest Cormier's Art Deco Université de Montréal main building, the landmark Place Ville Marie office tower, the controversial Olympic Stadium and surrounding structures, are but a few notable examples of 20th century architecture.

Pavilions designed for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, popularly known as Expo 67, featured a wide range of architectural designs. Though most pavilions were temporary structures, several remaining structures have become Montreal landmarks, including the geodesic dome US Pavilion, now the Montreal Biosphere, as well as Moshe Safdie's striking Habitat 67 apartment complex.

The Montreal Metro is filled with a profusion of public artwork by some of the biggest names in Quebec culture. The design and ornamentation of each station in the Metro system is unique.

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

Montreal's Underground City (officially RÉSO or La Ville Souterraine in French) is the set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown Montreal.

Panoramic view of Place d'Armes in Old Montreal.


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

The city of Montreal is composed of 19 large boroughs which are further subdivided into smaller neighbourhoods. The boroughs are Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Anjou, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lachine, LaSalle, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Le Sud-Ouest, L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal-Nord, Outremont, Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Saint-Laurent, Saint Leonard, Verdun, Ville-Marie and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension.

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

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

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

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

Old Montreal

Place Jacques-Cartier on a cold winter night.

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

Architecture and cobbled streets in Old Montreal have been maintained or restored and are frequented by horse-drawn calèches carrying tourists. Old Montreal is accessible from the downtown core via the underground city and is served by several STM bus routes and metro stations, ferries to the South Shore and a network of bicycle paths.

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

Mount Royal

Beaver Lake on Mount Royal.

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

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

The mountain is also home to two major cemeteries, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (founded in 1854) and Mount Royal (1852). Mount Royal Cemetery is a 165 acres (67 ha) terraced cemetery on the north slope of Mount Royal in the borough of Outremont. Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery is much larger, predominantly French-Canadian and officially Catholic. More than 900,000 people are buried there.

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

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

A panorama of Downtown Montreal and part of its metropolitan area taken from the Chalet du Mont Royal at the top of Mount Royal


Population of Montreal, and Metropolitan Area by year
Year City Island Metropolitan
1871 107,225 174,090
1881 140,747 223,512
1891 216,650 308,169
1901 267,730 393,665
1911 467,986 536,191 594,812
1921 618,506 724,205 774,330
1931 818,577 1,003,868 1,064,448
1941 903,077 1,116,800 1,192,235
1951 1,036,542 1,320,232 1,539,308
1961 1,257,537 1,747,696 2,215,627
1971 1,214,352 1,959,180 2,743,208
1981 1,018,609 1,760,122 2,862,286
1991 1,017,666 1,775,871 3,127,242
2001 1,039,534 1,812,723 3,426,350
2006 1,620,693 1,854,442 3,635,571

According to Statistics Canada, at the 2006 Canadian census the city of Montreal proper had 1,620,693 inhabitants. A total of 3,635,571 lived in the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) at the same 2006 census, up from 3,451,027 at the 2001 census (within 2006 CMA boundaries), which means a population growth of +1.05% per year between 2001 and 2006. In the 2006 census, children under 14 years of age (621,695) constituted 17.1%, while inhabitants over 65 years of age (495,685) numbered 13.6% of the total population. People of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Montreal, mostly of French, British, Irish and Italian origins. The largest reported European ethnicities in Montreal according to the 2006 census were French 23.0%, Italians 9.8%, Irish 5.4%, English 3.9%, Scottish 3.0%, Spanish 2.1%. Some 26% of the population of Montreal and 16.5% that of Greater Montreal, are members of a visible minority (non-white) group. The most numerous minorities are Blacks (7.2%), Latin Americans (2.1%), South Asians (2%), and Chinese (2%). Visible minorities are defined by the Canadian Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginals, who are non- Caucasian in race or non- white in colour."

According to a recently published report by the city of Montreal, the island is expected to number 1,991,200 by 2012, with 3.9 million in the Greater Montreal Area, an increase of 15.8% over 2001. However, in 2009, the Greater Montreal Area is estimated to number 3.86 million people, suggesting that the area surpass the four million threshold by 2012. According to StatsCan by 2030 the city is expected to number 5,275,000 with 1,722,000 being Visible minorities.

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

Italianate, 2nd Empire Homes on Saint Louis Square in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

The Greater Montreal Area is predominantly Roman Catholic; however, weekly attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada. Historically Montreal has been a centre of Catholicism in North America with its numerous seminaries and churches, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, and Saint Joseph's Oratory. Some 84.6% of the total population is Christian, largely Roman Catholic (74.5%), primarily due to descendants of original French settlers, and others of Italian and Irish origins. Protestants which include Anglican, United Church, Lutheran, owing to British and German immigration, and other denominations number 7.0%, with a further 3.0% consisting mostly of Orthodox Christians, fuelled by a large Greek population. There is also a number of Russian Orthodox parishes. Islam is the largest non-Christian religious group, with 100,185 members, the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada. The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 92,970. In cities such as Côte-Saint-Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority, or a substantial part of the population. As recently as 1971 the Jewish community in Greater Montreal was as high as 109,480. Political and economic uncertainties led many to leave Montreal and the province of Quebec.


Montreal's economy is the second largest of all cities in Canada based on GDP and the largest in Quebec. The city is today an important centre of commerce, finance, industry, technology, culture, world affairs and is the headquarters of the Montreal Exchange.

Tour de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Tower) in the Quartier international de Montréal

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

The Port of Montreal is the largest inland port in the world handling 26 million tonnes of cargo annually. As one of the most important ports in Canada, it remains a trans-shipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. For this reason, Montreal is the railway hub of Canada and has always been an extremely important rail city; it is home to the headquarters of the Canadian National Railway, and was home to the headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway until 1995.

The headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency is located in Longueuil, southeast of Montreal. Montreal also hosts the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a United Nations body); the World Anti-Doping Agency (an Olympic body); the International Air Transport Association (IATA), IATA Operational Safety Audit and the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC), as well as some other international organizations in various fields.

The Montreal World Trade Centre west entrance on Victoria Square.

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

The video game industry is also booming in Montreal since 1997, coinciding with the opening of Ubisoft Montreal. Recently, the city has attracted world leading game developers and publishers studios such as Ubisoft Montreal, EA, Eidos Interactive, Artificial Mind and Movement, Strategy First, THQ, mainly because of the quality of local specialized labor. Recently, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, announced that it would open a brand new video game studio in Montreal. Relatively new to the video game industry, it will be Warner Bros. first studio opened, not purchased, and will develop games for such Warner Bros. franchises as Batman and other games from their DC Comics portfolio. The new studio will create 300 jobs for the Montreal economy.

Air Canada Centre (French: Centre Air Canada), the headquarters of Air Canada

Montreal also plays an important role in the finance industry. The official legal corporate head offices of Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, two of the five biggest banks in Canada, are still in Montreal with their operational corporate headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. The National Bank of Canada, the sixth largest bank in Canada, Laurentian Bank of Canada, Desjardins Group, the largest regional bank in Quebec, are also headquartered in Montreal.

Several companies are headquartered in Greater Montreal Area including Rio Tinto Alcan, Desjardins Group, Bombardier Inc., Canadian National Railway, CGI Group, Air Canada, Air Transat, CAE, Saputo, Cirque du Soleil, Quebecor, Ultramar, Jean Coutu Group, Uniprix, Proxim, Domtar, Le Chateau, Power Corporation, Bell Canada. Standard Life, Hydro-Québec, AbitibiBowater, Pratt and Whitney Canada, Molson, Tembec, Alimentation Couche-Tard, SNC-Lavalin, MEGA Brands, Aeroplan, Agropur, Metro Inc., Astral Media, Laurentian Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, Transat A.T., VIA Rail, Novacam Technologies, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Greater Montreal had a GDP of $120 billion in 2005, placing it 39th in the world. It is expected to grow to almost $126 billion in 2008 and $140 billion by 2012.

The Montreal Oil Refining Centre is the largest refining centre in Canada with companies like Petro-Canada, Ultramar, Gulf Oil, Petromont, Ashland Canada, Parachem Petrochemical, Coastal Petrochemical, Interquisa ( Cepsa) Petrochemical, Nova Chemicals and more. However, Shell has decided to close the refining centre in 2010, throwing hundreds out of work and causing an increased dependence on foreign refineries for eastern Canada.


Place des Arts

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

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

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

A cultural heart of classical art and the venue for many summer festivals, the Place des Arts is a complex of different concert and theatre halls surrounding a large square in the eastern portion of downtown. Place des Arts harbours the headquarters of one of the world's foremost orchestras, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and the chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal are two other well-regarded Montreal orchestras. Also performing at Place des Arts is the Opéra de Montréal and the city's chief ballet company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Internationally recognized avant-garde dance troupes such as La La La Human Steps, O Vertigo, and the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault have toured the world and worked with international popular artists on videos and concerts. The unique choreography of these troupes has paved the way for the success of the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil.

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


The Montreal Canadiens versus the Boston Bruins.
The Canadian Grand Prix circuit.

The most popular sport in Montreal is ice hockey. The city's professional hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens, are one of the Original Six teams of the National Hockey League (NHL), and boast an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup championships. The New York Yankees of Major League Baseball are the only team in North American sports to have more championship titles, with 27 World Series titles. The Canadiens' most recent Stanley Cup victory came in 1993.

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) play at Molson Stadium on the campus of McGill University for their regular-season games. Late season and playoff games are played at the much larger, enclosed Olympic Stadium, which also played host to the 2008 Grey Cup. The Alouettes are the defending Grey Cup Champions, having won the championship in November 2010. The McGill Redmen, Concordia Stingers, and Université de Montréal Carabins play in the CIS university football league.

Montreal also has a storied baseball history. The city was the home of the minor-league Montreal Royals of the International League until 1960. In 1946, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball colour barrier with the Royals in an emotionally difficult year; Robinson was forever grateful for the local fans' fervent support. Major League Baseball came to town in the form of the Montreal Expos in 1969. They played their games at Jarry Park until moving into Olympic Stadium in 1977. After 37 years in Montreal, the team relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2005 and re-branded themselves as the Washington Nationals.

Olympic Stadium, home of the former Montreal Expos and the largest stadium in Canada.

The Montreal Impact are the city's USSF D2 Pro League soccer team. They play at a soccer-specific stadium called Saputo Stadium. They are the defending USL First Division Champions, having won the title in October 2009. However the team changed leagues along with all the other USL First Division teams because of some disputes. The Montreal Impact will join North America's biggest soccer league, the MLS, in 2012. The Montreal games of the FIFA 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup were held at Olympic Stadium.

Montreal is the site of a high-profile auto racing event each year: the Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One (F1) racing. This race takes place on the famous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame. In 2009, the race was dropped from the Formula One calendar, to the chagrin of some fans, but the Canadian Grand Prix returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2010. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve also hosted a round of the Champ Car World Series from 2002–2007, and currently is home to the NAPA Auto Parts 200, a NASCAR Nationwide Series race, and the Montréal 200, a Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series race.

Uniprix Stadium, built in 1993 on the former site of Jarry Park, is used for the Rogers Cup men's and women's tennis tournaments. The men's tournament is a Masters 1000 event on the ATP Tour, and the women's tournament is a Premier tournament on the WTA Tour. The men's and women's tournaments alternate between Montreal and Toronto every year.

Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. The stadium alone cost $1.5 billion; with interest that figure ballooned to nearly $3 billion, and was only paid off in December 2006. Montreal also hosted the first ever World Outgames in the summer of 2006, attracting over 16,000 participants engaged in 35 sporting activities.

Active professional sports teams in Montreal
Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Montreal Canadiens NHL Ice hockey Bell Centre 1909 24
Montreal Alouettes CFL Football Percival Molson Memorial Stadium
Olympic Stadium
1946 8
Montreal Impact USSF D2 ( MLS in 2012) Soccer Saputo Stadium 1993 3
Montreal Stars Canadian Women's Hockey League Ice hockey Etienne Desmarteaux 2007 1
Montreal Junior Hockey Club QMJHL Ice hockey Verdun Auditorium 2008 0
Quebec Caribou RCSL Rugby union Dollard-des-Ormeaux 1998 0
Quebec Saints OAFL Australian Rules Football Vanier College 2008 1
Montreal Blitz IWFL Football Dalbé Viau High School 2002 2


Montreal City Hall

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

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

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

The city of Montreal is only one component of the larger Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (English: Montreal Metropolitan Community or MMC), which is in charge of planning, coordinating, and financing economic development, public transportation, garbage collection and waste management, etc., across the metropolitan area of Montreal. The president of the CMM is the mayor of Montreal. The CMM covers 4,360 square kilometres (1,683  sq mi), with 3.6 million inhabitants in 2006.


McGill University, Arts Building
Completed in 2009, the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University

With access to nine universities and twelve junior colleges in an 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) radius, Montreal has the highest concentration of post-secondary students of all major cities in North America (4.38 students per 100 residents, followed by Boston at 4.37 students per 100 residents).

There are two anglophone universities in the city:

  • McGill University is one of Canada's oldest universities, and widely recognized as a world-class institution. McGill has consistently been ranked in the top 25 universities in the world by the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings for the past six years (as of 2009).
  • Concordia University was created from the merger of Sir George Williams University and Loyola College in 1974. Concordia is also home to the John Molson School of Business which is recognized as one of Canada's top business schools and ranks within the top 100 worldwide.

And there are seven francophone universities located in the city of Montreal:

Université de Montréal, Roger-Gaudry building.
  • Université de Montréal (UdeM) is the second largest research university in Canada. Two separate institutions are affiliated to the university: the École Polytechnique de Montréal (School of Engineering) and HEC Montréal (School of Business).
  • Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) is the Montreal campus of Université du Québec. UQÀM generally specializes in liberal-arts.
  • Université du Québec also has three separately run schools in Montréal, notably the École de technologie supérieure (ETS), the École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP) and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS).
  • L'Institut de formation théologique de Montréal des Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice (IFTM) specializes in Theology and Philosophy.
  • Le Concervatoire de musique de Montréal offers a Bachelor and a Masters degrees in classical music.

Additionally, two French-language universities, Université de Sherbrooke and Université Laval have campuses in the nearby suburb of Longueuil on Montreal's south shore. Also, ll'Institut de pastorale des Dominicains is Montreal's university centre of Ottawa's Collège universitaire dominicain/ Dominican University College. The Faculté de théologie évangélique is Nova Scotia's Acadia University Montreal based serving French Protestant community in Canada by offering a Bachelor and a Masters degrees in Theology.

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

English-language elementary and secondary public schools on Montreal Island are operated by the English Montreal School Board and the Lester B. Pearson School Board. French-language elementary and secondary public schools in Montreal are operated by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB) and the Commission scolaire Pointe-de-l'Île (CSPI).


Jacques Cartier Bridge at dusk

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

The island of Montreal is a hub for the Quebec Autoroute system, and is served by Quebec Autoroutes A-10 (known as the Bonaventure Expressway on the island of Montreal), A-15 (aka the Decarie Expressway south of the A-40 and the Laurentian Autoroute to the north of it), A-13 (aka Chomedey Autoroute), A-20, A-25, A-40 (part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, and known as "The Metropolitan" or simply "The Met" in its elevated mid-town section), A-520, and A-720 (aka the Ville-Marie Autoroute). Many of these Autoroutes are frequently congested at rush hour. However, in recent years, the government has acknowledged this problem and is working on long-term solutions to alleviate the congestion. One such example is the extension of Quebec Autoroute 30 on Montreal's south shore, which will serve as a bypass.

Société de transport de Montréal (STM)

Metro Train at Berri-UQAM station
A STM Novabus operating on Route 33.

Public local transport is served by a network of buses, subways, and commuter trains that extend across and off the island. The subway and bus system is operated by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). The STM bus network consists of 197 daytime and 20 nighttime service routes that provide a vast number of routes for the city of Montreal proper. STM bus routes serve an average of 1,347,900 daily passengers on an average weekday in 2010. It also provides adapted transport and wheelchair-accessible buses. The STM won the award of Outstanding Public Transit System in North America by the APTA in 2010. It was the first time a Canadian company won this prize.

Montreal's Metro was inaugurated in 1966 and today has 68 stations spread out along its four lines. Today, the metro system is currently Canada's busiest subway system in total daily passenger usage, serving an average of 1,050,800 daily passengers on an average weekday (as of Q1 2010). Each station was designed by different architects with individual themes and features original artwork, and the trains themselves run on rubber tires, making the system quieter than most. The project was initiated by Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau, who would later bring the Summer Olympic Games to Montreal in 1976. The metro system has long had a station on the South Shore in Longueuil, and has only recently been extended to the city of Laval, north of Montreal with 3 new stations.

The commuter rail system is managed and operated by the Agence métropolitaine de transport, and reaches the outlying areas of Greater Montreal. Montreal's commuter rail network had 15.7 million passengers in 2007, making it the sixth busiest in North America following New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

Lionel-Groulx Metro station


Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Montreal has two international airports, one for passenger flights only, and the other for cargo. Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (also known as Dorval Airport) in the City of Dorval serves all commercial passenger traffic and is the headquarters for Air Canada and Air Transat. To the north of the city is Montréal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, which was envisioned as Montreal's primary airport but which now serves cargo flights along with MEDEVACs and general aviation as well as some passenger services. In 2009, Montreal-Trudeau was the third busiest airport in Canada by passenger traffic and fourth by aircraft movements, behind Toronto Pearson, and Vancouver. In 2009 the airport handled 12.2 million passengers, and 211,999 aircraft movements. With 60.8% of its passengers being on non-domestic flights it has the largest percentage of international flights of any Canadian airport. Trudeau airport is served by 40 carriers to over 100 destinations worldwide. Airlines servicing Trudeau offer flights to Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States, Mexico and other destinations within Canada. It is the only Canadian airport that offers non-stop service to Africa and it also contains the largest duty free shop in North America.


The Agence métropolitaine de transport runs commuter trains serving Greater Montreal such as this one on the Deux-Montagnes Line.

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

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

Montreal-based Canadian National Railways (CN) was formed during in 1919 by the Canadian Government following a series of country-wide rail bankruptcies. CN was formed from the lines of the Grand Trunk, Midland and Canadian Northern Railways, and has risen to become CPR's chief rival in freight carriage in Canada. Like the CPR, CN has divested itself of passenger services in favour of VIA Rail Canada.

Sister cities

Montreal has a number of sister cities:

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