Canada facts & history in brief
Montreal in the province of Quebec is Canada's second
largest city and the world's largest French speaking
city after Paris.
About two-thirds of Montreal's
people speak French and have French ancestry.
Montreal is one of the world's largest inland seaports
and a major business, industry, culture, education, and
Montreal has an unusual location.
It lies and covers about two-fifths of the Island of
Montreal at the place where the St Lawrence and Ottawa
rivers meet in southern Quebec and built around a
mountain, on a series of terraces that rise steeply
from the banks of the St Lawrence River west of
The tree covered mountain, rises 233
metres in the city's centre.
On shore level are the
port facilities, warehouses and wholesale trade
Old Montreal lies on the lowest
terraces, near the riverfront.
Farther up are the
towering office buildings and busy shops of central Montreal.
The city centre lies west of Old Montreal.
It has some of Canada's tallest buildings, busiest
department stores, and finest hotels.
city one of Montreal's liveliest sections lies
beneath the central streets.
metropolitan area is the second largest urban area in Canada
About 75 cities and towns make
up the Montreal metropolitan area with about 65 per
cent of the people living in this area.
The Algonkian, Huron and Iroquois lived in the area,
before Europeans settled in the area.
the French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed up the
St Lawrence River to explore the Island of Montreal.
In 1642 French colonists built a fort on the site,
that is now Old Montreal and established the
settlement of Ville-Marie, the first permanent
The city probably took
its name from 'the mountain', named Mont Royal.
By the early 1700's, Ville-Marie had become known as Montreal.
The township soon became a major trading post, mainly in furs.
The Iroquois wanted the fur trade for themselves, and
attacked the colony regularly, until the 1701 peace
treaty was signed.
Montreal became a busy exploration base and
commercial hub of France's North
American empire, Nouvelle France.
Many of the buildings from the period
can still be seen in Vieux Montreal today.
The protracted French and Indian war from
1754 to 1763, was a turning point in
the French influence in North America.
In 1760, British troops captured Montreal.
The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763,
made Canada a British colony.
Montreal soon developed into
a British commercial centre.
The anti British American colonies
also attacked the British in and
around Montreal and took Montreal, but
soon were forced to retreat
from Quebec City and Montreal.
In the 1900s the city continued to grow and prosper as
expanding shipping and rail lines turned the city
into Canada's commercial and cultural centre as
many Central and Eastern European and Jewish
Europeans immigrants settled here looking for work.
Jean Drapeau, a new mayor in the early 1950s drew up
plans that dramatically changed the face of the city,
succeeding in cleaning up the city, encouraging
redevelopment and enhancing Montreal's international
reputation with both the World's Fair in 1967 and the
Olympic Games in 1976.
In the mid 1980s due to the
uncertainties stirred up by a growing Quebec separatist
movement that became a dominant political cause,
Toronto had surpassed Montreal as Canada's economic
capital, due to the relocation of foreign investors
to less turbulent waters.
The 'Quiet Revolution'
eventually gave French Québecers more say in industry
and politics and saw the supremacy of the French
language in the province.
voted firmly to stay with Canada, although the issue
is no less passionate or complex even today.
The growth of high-tech industries helped Montreal to
emerge from economic hardship, and modernisation of
the city took off again throughout the 1990s.
The riverfront, downtown and Vieux Port area were
redeveloped and enhanced and it became a more cheerful
and prosperous, culturally rich and complex city.
Canadians of French ancestry are by far the largest
group in the city.
Signs throughout the city
appear mainly in French.
Montreal is the
headquarters of a separatist movement, which aims
to make Quebec an independent nation, separate
from the rest of Canada.
The school system
is based on the basis of language and religion
providing lessons either in French or English,
Catholic and Protestant schools.
Montreal also has four universities.
The city lies in the productive farming region
of Quebec and became an important food-processing,
petroleum refining, clothing, tobacco products,
and transportation equipment manufacturing centre.
Some of Montreal's major attractions are;
The Place Jacques Cartier, a public market since
1803, in Montreal's romantic Vieux Montreal
(Old Montreal), near the plain looking Hôtel
de Ville (City Hall).
Promenade de Vieux Port (Old Port) along the
waterfront and the narrow, cobblestone streets
around Rue St Paul with its old stone houses
and buildings that now house little restaurants,
galleries and clubs are popular tourist attractions.
The Place d'Armes, is another major square in the
area, featuring the magnificent Basilica Notre Dame.
Built in 1829 and big enough to hold 5000 people.
The beautiful interior houses the Chapelle du Sacré
Couer (Sacred Heart Chapel).
In the west end
of Vieux Montréal is the Place Royale where Ville
Marie, Montreal's first small fort town, was built.
It later became a marketplace and is now the forecourt
of the Veille Douane (Old Customs House), linked to
the Pointe à Callière Museum of Archaeology & History,
built on the exact spot of Montreal's first European
settlement, in the actual ruins of buildings and an
ancient sewage system.
Downtown Montreal has
many skyscrapers, shops, restaurants and hotels,
but it also houses the city's finest museums, several
grand churches and the Chinatown district.
The Rue St. Catherine is the main shopping street
and there is the huge performing arts complex,
Place des Arts, home to the legendary Montreal
Jazz Festival and the impressive Musée d'Art Contemporian,
also the Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Museum),
Montreal's main art gallery, with many great works.
McGill University is in the northern section of downtown,
and it is one of Canada's most prestigious universities.
The Cathedral Basilica Marie Reine du Monde (Cathedral of
Mary, Queen of the World), a small, magnificent version
of St Peter's Basilica in Rome is nearby.
is the Quartier Latin is the Paris-style student
district with the Université du Quebec à Montreal
(UQAM), with trendy bars, streetside
cafés, bistros and clubs.
The Village, around Rue St. Catherine Est is the hub
of the gay community.
The Plateau Mont Royal is
a lively ethnic district, between Rue Sherbrooke and
Blvd St Joseph with many night-clubs, interesting
shops and restaurants.
The Carrée St Louis, Rue
Prince Arthur and Ave Duluth are colourful neighbourhoods
with many more restaurants and ornate, stylish
19th-century Victorian style homes.
The Parc des
Îles in the middle of the St Lawrence, is one of
Quebec's biggest attractions.
The island park was t
he former site of the 1967 World's Fair.
park is the large spaceship shaped Casino de Montreal, a
Grand Prix racetrack that also used as an inline skate
park, an Olympic rowing basin that becomes a giant
skate rink in the winter, the popular Biosphere and
miles of beautiful, parks, for cycling, strolling
Three kilometres east of
downtown, is the magnificent and very popular
Parc Olympique where the 1976
Montreal Olympic Games were held.
Nearby is the Montreal Tower, that
you can visit with a cable car.
In the northern parts of downtown Montreal's is Little
Italy, with its many good Italian restaurants.
The ethnically diverse Jean Talon Market is Montreal's
largest market with over 250 stalls on a huge square,
ringed by shops stocking produce year-round.
About an hour's drive north-west of Montreal is the Rouge
River, one of the best white-water rivers in North America.
Montreal is well served with domestic, and overseas flights.
Also many train and bus lines
connections to Canadian and US cities.
Montreal also have a good and reliable local bus, Metro
and Taxi service.
Some of the outstanding
local events are the Montréal Jazz Festival and
the Canadian Grand Prix, held in early June.
Montréal City covers an area of
158 sq km with a population of around
We had a major Tiki tour of the university
after our arrival from Toronto.
only a short distance from the Bus Depot and
Hui Chin and I were looking for an Internet
Café or similar.
It was time to touch base
with Endre, home in Auckland.
Well we were
sent this way, that way, up the stairs, down
the stairs, until a nice young lady pointed
to some computers in the Library and spoilt
our victory of finding it, where's your I.D.
(Student I.D., I suppose).
Well, no internet.
So off we went walking and trying to find the far
end of Rue Sainte-Catherine.
Boy, oh boy, it's not half long!
It was dark and we were fair dead on our
feet when we got back to our hostel,
the Le Gite du Parc Lafontaine, near the Bus Depot.
We found an Internet Café too and a 'Subway'
(The sandwich place of course) too, we go to
like them for their freshness, variety and
The Rue Sainte-Catherine
is long, long street and its beginning is a bit
seedy, or the beginning where we started off,
than it gets very posh, than seedy, than posh again.
We did like Montreal, very nice and friendly place.
Soon we would be on our way to Ottawa, another
city another lot of adventure.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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