Montreal old fort

Montreal (French : Montréal), located in eastern Canada in Quebec province, is Canada's largest city and leading port. The population of the city proper is 1,017,666 (1991) ; that of the metropolitan area, 3,127,242. The city spreads over most of Montreal Island, in the Saint Laurence River, adjacent to the river's first rapids and near its confluence with Ottawa River. The urbanized are also overflows onto several other nearby Islands (notably île Jésus) and eastward across the St. Lawrence onto the mainland. It's site is dominated by the volcanic hill of Mount Royal, which rises to 233 m (764 ft) directly behind the central business district, and for which the city was named.

Montreal climate is characterized by a long, cold winter (January average temperature -9°C/16°F) in which an average of about 2,540 mm (100 in) of snow falls (the equivalent of 254 mm/10 in of rain). Summer ( July average temperature 22°C/71°F) is mild and pleasant with considerable rainfall. Total annual precipitation is 795 mm (31 in).

Contemporary City. Montreal is about two thirds Francophone ( French-speaking) and is the second-largest Frence-language city in the world (after Paris). The remaining third of the populace is almost evenly divided between people of British ancestry and those of neither British nor Frence descent. The latter include large communities of Germans, Italians, Jews, and Central and Eastern European. Roman Catholicism is predominant religion.

Montreal vies with Toronto for the commercial, industrial and financial primary of Canada. The two cities are virtually equal in most measures of economic activity. Montreal is, however, unrivaled as the nation's leading port, despite ice problems in winter. It was originally at the head of navigation of the St. Lawrence river, and even with the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway (1959), which allows medium-size oceangoing vessels to enter the Lakes, it has maintained its importance. It is a major grain-shipping port. Many of Canada's banks and insurance and railroad companies have their headquarters in Montreal. Trade, Industry, and services are the main areas of economic activity in Montreal. The city's major industries are metal products, chemical products, transportation equipment, textiles, and food processing.

During the 1960s and '70s the center of Montreal was greatly transformed. Many large buildings were constructed, but the most striking development was the integration of skyscrapers with underground shopping complexes to provide largely self-contained indoor environment for winter living. This climate-controlled are exists beneath the streets and buildings of Montreal. The excellent subway system, the metro, which connects with the underground city was inaugurated in 1966. All of the past has not been uprooted, however. A strong Old World flavor is maintained in the preserved historic section of the city along the river called Old Montreal. It is the site of McGill University (1821) and the Université de Montréal (1878) . Among Montreal's many museums is the museum of Fine arts. The Place des Arts is a complex of concert and theater halls. Montreal has many buildings of historical significance, of which the most notable are the cathedral Church of Notre Dame (completed 1829), St. Sluice Seminary (c.1685), and the Château de Remarry (1705), the former residence of French and British governors.

In recent decades Montreal has hosted two world events. A world's fair, called Expo '67, was held in 1967 as a centenary celebration of Canada's independence, and a very popular permanent exhibition, Man and His World, continues to occupy the fairgrounds on islands in the river. In 1976, Montreal was the site of the Summer Olympic Games.


Jacques Cartier discovered a Huron Indian village (Hochelaga) at the base of Mount Royal when he visited the site in 1535. More than a century passed, However, before the first European settlement, a fortified mission station called Ville-Marie de Montreal, was established (1642) on the site by the sieur de MAISONNEUVE. The settlement languished for several decades, and the first real development did not come until the early 1700s, when Montreal became an important base for westward explorers and fur trades. The British captured the city from the French in 1960 It served as Canada's capital from 1844 to 1849. At the time of confederation in 1867, Montreal had become the dominant city of Canada, with a population of about 100,000. By the turn of the century this total had grown to 270,00.

Resource: Tom McKnight - Academic American Encyclopedia


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