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—  City  —
Ville de Montréal
A view of downtown Montreal


Coat of arms

Motto: Concordia Salus ("well-being through harmony")
Montreal is located in Quebec
Coordinates: 45°30′N 73°40′W / 45.5°N 73.667°W / 45.5; -73.667
Country  Canada
Province  Quebec
Region Montreal
Founded 1642
Established 1832
 - Mayor Gérald Tremblay
Area [1][2][3]
 - 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)[1][2][3]
 - City 1,620,693 (2nd)
 Density 4,439/km2 (11,496/sq mi)
 Urban 3,316,615 (2nd)
 Metro 3,635,571 (2nd)
 - Metro Density 854/km2 (2,211.8/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) and (438), 450(Laval, Longueuil)
Website City of Montreal

Montreal (French: Montréal)[4] (pronounced Montreal1.ogg [mɔ̃ʁeˈal] in French, Montreal-english-pronunciation.ogg /ˌmʌntriˈɑːl/ in English[5]) is the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary",[6] 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,[7][8] or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French,[9] (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 a population of 1,906,811 [10] in the city and metropolitan area population of 3,814,700.[11] As of the 2006 census, 1,620,698 people resided in the city,[1] ranking it as the sixth largest city overall across Canada and the United States. The population of the metropolitan area (known as Greater Montreal) was 3,635,571 at 2006 census.

The language most spoken at home in the city is French by 57% of the population, followed by English at 19% (as of 2006 census).[12] The official language of Montreal is French as defined by the city's charter.[13][14] Montreal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Although a few francophone African cities are bigger in size, such as Algiers, Kinsasha, and Abidjan, it is agreed that none of these cities have a significant number of mother-tongue French speakers.[15][16] Montreal is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities and is usually known as "Canada's Cultural Capital" by Monocle Magazine.[17] Though historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population by Toronto in 1976. Today it continues as an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, culture, tourism, film and world affairs.[18] As of 2009 Montreal is 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).[19]



The Montreal Harbour in 1889.
View from Mount Royal, 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 1000 CE, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages.[20] 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 1300s.[21] The French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, when he claimed the St. Lawrence Valley for France. On his expeditions, he also visited Stadacona, another village of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. They spoke Laurentian, one within the family of Iroquoian languages.[21][22] Cartier estimated the population of the native people at Hochelaga to be "over a thousand".[21]

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. Mohawk Iroquois used it as a hunting ground and path for war parties. Some historians believe the St. Lawrence Iroquoians were pushed out or essentially destroyed through inter-tribal wars, most likely from the Mohawk, who were competing for the fur trade and hunting in the valley below Tadoussac.[23] Outmigration and epidemic of European diseases might also have contributed, but no definitive evidence has been found for either.[21] 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.[24] 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.[25]

Ville-Marie became a centre for the fur trade and a base for further French exploration in North America.[25] By the early 1700s, 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.[26] The Canadian territory remained a French colony until 1760, when it was surrendered to Great Britain after their victory in the Seven Years War.[27]

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832.[28] The opening of the Lachine Canal permitted ships to bypass the unnavigable Lachine Rapids,[29] 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.[30][31]

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.[32] Toronto, more toward the center 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.[33] Unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.[34]

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.[35] Ottawa was furious over Houde's insubordination and held him in a prison camp until 1944,[36] when the government was forced to institute conscription to recruit enough forces. (see Conscription Crisis of 1944).[35]

By 1951, Montreal's population had surpassed one million people.[37] 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.[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] In 1976, Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics.[41]

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. This move proved unpopular. 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.


Marché Bonsecours in autumn.

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.[42] 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.[43]

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.[44]


Montreal lies at the confluence of several climatic regions. Usually, the climate is classified as humid continental or hemiboreal (Köppen climate classification Dfb).[45]

Montreal's summer are warm, at times hot and humid with an average high temperatures of 24 - 26°C (74 - 79°F) and lows of 13 - 16°C (55 - 60°F), but temperatures frequently reach or could 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 -2 to -6°C (25 - 28°F) and a lows of -10 to -15°C (6 - 13°F). However, there are some winter days that are milder and temperatures slightly above freezing.[46]

Spring and fall are pleasantly mild but prone to drastic temperature changes. [47] Late season heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are a common occurrence.

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.[48]

Annual precipitation is around 980 mm (39 in), including an average 218 cm (86 in) of snowfall, which occurs from November thru March. The city gets over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, with summer being the sunniest, but is also the slightly wetter season.[49]

Climate data for Montreal, Quebec
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.9
Average high °C (°F) -5.7
Daily mean °C (°F) -10.2
Average low °C (°F) -14.7
Record low °C (°F) -37.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 78.3
Snowfall cm (inches) 52.5
Sunshine hours 101.6 123.9 158.9 173.3 229.7 245.5 274.3 240.5 174.6 140 86.1 80.2 2,028.6
Source: Environment Canada[48] January 27, 2009


For over a century and a half, Montreal was the industrial and financial centre of Canada.[50] 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 historical 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).[51] This distinguished title recognizes Montreal's design community. Since 2005 the city has been home for the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda);[52] the International Design Alliance (IDA).[53]

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. It is considered the largest underground complex in the world.

Panoramic view of Place d'Armes in Old Montreal.


The city of Montreal is composed of 19 large boroughs which are further subdivided into smaller neighbourhoods.[54] 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.[55] 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 includes the traditionally working-class Irish neighbourhoods of Griffintown, Goose Village 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.[56]

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.[57]

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.[58] More than 900,000 people are buried there.[59]

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.[60]

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.[57] 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.[57] It was converted to fibre-optic light in 1992.[57] 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.[61]

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, by year
Year City Island Metropolitan
1871 107,225 174,090[62]
1881 140,747 223,512[62]
1891 216,650 308,169[62]
1901 267,730 393,665[62]
1911 467,986 536,191[63] 594,812[62]
1921 618,506 724,205[63] 774,330[62]
1931 818,577[62] 1,003,868[64] 1,064,448[62]
1941 903,077[62] 1,116,800[64] 1,192,235[62]
1951 1,036,542[62] 1,320,232[64] 1,539,308[62]
1961 1,257,537[62] 1,747,696[65] 2,215,627[62]
1971 1,214,352[62] 1,959,180[65] 2,743,208[62]
1981 1,018,609[62] 1,760,122[65] 2,862,286[62]
1991 1,017,666[62] 1,775,871[65] 3,127,242[62]
2001 1,039,534 1,812,723 3,426,350[62]
2006 1,620,693 1,854,442 3,635,571[62]
July 2009 1,906,811 3,814,700[62]
Pie chart showing Montreal's visible minority composition (data from Canada Census 2006).

According to Statistics Canada, at the 2006 Canadian census the city of Montreal proper had 1,620,693 inhabitants.[1] 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.[3] 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.[1] People of European ethnicities formed the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Montreal, mostly of French, British, Irish and Italian origins.[66] Some 26% of the population of Montreal and 16.5% that of Greater Montreal, are members of a visible minority (non-white) group.[67] The most numerous minorities are Blacks (7.2%), Moroccans (2.8%), Latin Americans (2.1%), South Asians (2%), and Chinese (2%).[67] 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."[68]

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.[69] According to StatsCan by 2030 the city is expected to number 5,275,000 with 1,722,000 being Visible minorities. [70]

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.[71] 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%).[71] 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.

Language most spoken at home
in the Montreal metropolitan area (CMA)
1996[72] 2001[73] 2006[12]
French 71.2% 72.1% 70.5%
English 19.4% 18.5% 18.5%
Other language 13.4% 13.1% 14.6%
Note that percentages add up to more than 100% because
some people speak two or more languages at home.
Victorian homes on Saint Louis Square in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

The Greater Montreal Area is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic; however, weekly attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada.[74] 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,[75] 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. Due to the large number of non-European cultures, there is a diversity of non-Christian religions. Islam is the largest non-Christian group, with some 100,185 members, the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada, constituting 3%.[75] The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 92,970.[75] In cities such as Côte-Saint-Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority,[76][77] or a substantial part of the population. As recently as 1971 the Jewish community in Greater Montreal was as high as 109,480.[65] Political and economic uncertainties led many to leave Montreal and the province of Quebec.[78]


Montreal's economy is the second largest of all cities in Canada based on GDP[79] and the largest in Quebec.[80] The city is today an important centre of commerce, finance, industry, technology, culture, world affairs and was once the headquarters for the Montreal Stock Exchange.

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.[81]

The Port of Montreal is the largest inland port in the world handling 26 million tonnes of cargo annually.[82] 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,[83] and was home to the headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway until 1995.[84]

The headquarter of the Canadian Space Agency is located in Longueuil, southeast of Montreal.[85] Montreal also hosts the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a United Nations body);[86] the World Anti-Doping Agency (an Olympic body);[87] the International Air Transport Association (IATA),[88] IATA Operational Safety Audit and the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC),[89] as well as some 60[citation needed] 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.[90][91] 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.[92]

The video game industry is also booming in Montreal since 1997, coinciding with the opening of Ubisoft Montreal.[93] Recently, the city has attracted world leading game developers and publishers studios such as Ubisoft, EA, Eidos Interactive, Artificial Mind and Movement, Strategy First, THQ, mainly because of the quality of local specialized labor.

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,[94] Desjardins Group, Bombardier Inc.,[95] Canadian National Railway,[96] CGI Group,[97] Air Canada,[98] Air Transat,[99] CAE,[100] Saputo,[101] Cirque du Soleil, Quebecor,[102] Ultramar, Jean Coutu Group,[103] Uniprix,[104] Proxim,[105] Domtar,[106] Power Corporation, Bell Canada.[107] Standard Life,[108] Hydro-Québec, AbitibiBowater, Pratt and Whitney Canada, Molson,[109] Tembec, Alimentation Couche-Tard, SNC-Lavalin,[110] MEGA Brands,[111] Aeroplan,[112] Agropur,[113] Metro Inc., Astral Media,[114] Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Laurentian Bank of Canada,[115] National Bank of Canada,[116] Transat A.T.,[117] VIA Rail,[118] 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.[119] It is expected to grow to almost $126 billion in 2008 and $140 billion by 2012.[120]

The Montreal Oil Refining Center is the largest refining center in Canada with companies like Shell Canada, Petro-Canada, Ultramar, Gulf Oil, Petromont, Ashland Canada, Parachem Petrochemical, Coastal Petrochemical, Interquisa (Cepsa) Petrochemical, Nova Chemicals and more.


Montreal was referred to as "Canada's Cultural Capital" by Monocle Magazine.[17] 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, the Francofolies, 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."[121] 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.[122]


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 other team in North American sports to have more championship titles, with 27 World Series titles, but the Canadiens have not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

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.[123] 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.[124]

Olympic Stadium, home of the former Montreal Expos

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) draw packed crowds at the small but picturesque 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 2009. The McGill Redmen, Concordia Stingers, and Université de Montréal Carabins play in the CIS university football league.

The Montreal Impact are the city's USL First Division soccer team. They play at a soccer-specific stadium called Saputo Stadium. The Montreal games of the FIFA 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup were held at Olympic Stadium.[125]

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,[126] 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.

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.[127]

Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. The stadium alone cost $1.5 billion,[128] with interest that figure ballooned to nearly $3 billion, and was only paid off in December 2006.[129] 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
Montreal Impact USL 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


Montreal is well served by a variety of media, including several French and English television stations, newspapers, radio stations, and magazines. There are four over-the-air English-language television stations: CBC Television, CTV, Global and CJNT which also airs multicultural programming. There are also five over-the-air French-language television stations: Radio-Canada, TVA, V, Télé-Québec, and Canal Savoir.

Montreal has four daily newspapers, the English-language Montreal Gazette and the French-language La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal and Le Devoir. There are also two free French dailies, Métro and 24 Heures. Montreal also has numerous weekly tabloids and community newspapers serving various neighbourhoods, ethnic groups and schools.

The name Montreal was also used in the Montreal Screwjob that was a controversy in the WWF (now WWE) featuring Bret Hart defending his title and the presence of Vince McMahon at the 1997 Survivor Series that was held in Montreal.


The Urban Agglomeration of Montreal

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 des citoyens et des citoyennes de l'Île de Montréal (English: Montreal Island Citizens Union). 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.[130] 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.[131]


McGill University, Arts Building.

With access to six universities and twelve junior colleges in an 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) 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).[132]

There are two anglophone universities in the city:

There are also two francophone universities located in the city of Montreal:

Université de Montréal, Roger-Gaudry building.

Additionally, two French-language universities, Université de Sherbrooke and Université Laval have campuses in the nearby suburb of Longueuil on Montreal's south shore.

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[135] and the Lester B. Pearson School Board.[136] French-language elementary and secondary public schools in Montreal are operated by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM),[137] Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB)[138] and the Commission scolaire Pointe-de-l'Île (CSPI).[139]


Like many major cities, Montreal has a problem with vehicular traffic congestion, especially from 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 Autoroute Chomedey), 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.[140] 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.[141]

Metro Train at Berri-UQAM station.

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 165 daytime and 20 night-time service routes, and provides adapted transport and limited wheelchair-accessible buses.[142]

Montreal's Metro was inaugurated in 1966 and today has 68 stations spread out along its four lines.[143] 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.[144] 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.[145]

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.[146]

Lionel-Groulx Metro station


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[147] and Air Transat.[148] 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.[149][150][151][152][153] In 2008, Montreal-Trudeau was the third busiest airport in Canada by both passenger traffic and fourth by aircraft movements, behind Toronto Pearson, and Vancouver . In 2008 the airport handled 12.8 million passengers,[154][155] and 225,219 aircraft movements.[156] With 59.7% of its passengers being on non-domestic flights it has the largest percentage of international flights of any Canadian airport.[155] Trudeau airport is served by 40 carriers to over 100 destinations worldwide.[157] 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.[158]


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.[159] Its corporate headquarters occupied Windsor Station at 910 Peel Street until 1995.[84] 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.[160] 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.[161] Like the CPR, CN has divested itself of passenger services in favour of VIA Rail Canada.[162]

Sister cities

Montreal has a number of sister cities:

See also


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Further reading

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Coordinates: 45°30′32″N 73°33′15″W / 45.50889°N 73.55417°W / 45.50889; -73.55417

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Canada : Quebec : Montreal
Montreal is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Detail of Basilique Notre-Dame
Detail of Basilique Notre-Dame

Montreal [1] (French: Montréal) is the cultural capital of Quebec and the main entry point to the province. The second largest city in Canada, it is a city rich in culture and history, has an inordinate number of attractive, fashionably dressed people, and a well-deserved reputation as one of the liveliest cities in North America. Montréal is the third-largest French-speaking city in the world, behind Paris and Kinshasa. The population of Montreal is approximately 3.6 million.

Saint Joseph's Oratory at sunset
Saint Joseph's Oratory at sunset
  • Old Montreal — The historic and (dare we say it) quaint riverfront Old Town and Old Port.
  • Downtown — Sky scrapers, shopping, and museums.
  • Quartier Latin — Restaurants, boutiques, cafes, pubs.
  • The Plateau — Covering McGill Ghetto, upper St-Laurent, St-Denis, and Mont Royal Ave. Don't forget Mile-End.
  • Gay Village — Clubs, clothes, and culture in North America's largest gay district.
  • Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie — Little Italy and Jean-Talon market.
  • Westmount — Upscale anglophone neighborhood.
  • Hochelaga-Maisonneuve — Olympic Park, Botanical Gardens.
  • Côtes-des-Neiges — Multicultural neighborhood northwest of the mountain.
  • Outremont — Bagels and bistros.
  • Parc Jean-Drapeau — The islands of Ile Ste-Helene and Ile Notre Dame and the Montreal Casino.
  • South West — Including Lachine canal, Atwater Market (a must!), St. Henri, and the emerging culinary hot-spot, Petite-Bourgogne.
Old Montreal, on the foreground of Downtown Montreal
Old Montreal, on the foreground of Downtown Montreal

Situated on an island in the St. Lawrence River at the historically highest navigable point, Montreal has been a strategic location since before the arrival of Europeans in Canada. A thriving Mohawk town called Hochelaga was on the site of present-day Montreal when explorer Jacques Cartier first visited in 1535. A hundred years later, in 1642, the tiny town of Ville-Marie was founded as a Sulpician mission by Paul Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve. It soon became a centre of the fur trade. After its capture by the English in 1762, Montreal remained (until the 1970s) the most important city in Canada and was briefly capital of the province in the 1840s.

Prohibition on sales of alcohol in the United States during the 1920s and '30s made Montreal a mecca for cross-border fun seekers from nearby New England and New York. The city built up a seedy, yet playful, industry in alcohol, burlesque, and other vices. In the 1960s, an urban renewal drive centered around Expo 67. The World's Fair in Montreal brought a subway system and a number of attractive urban parks and is considered to be one of the most successful World Fairs. Over 50 million visitors gathered to Montreal during this memorable summer. The 1976 Olympics left a strikingly idiosyncratic stadium and many other urban improvements.

St Lawrence river gateway
St Lawrence river gateway

The opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959, though much lauded as an economic boom, spelled the beginning of the end for Montreal's economic dominance in Canada. Once the transition point between western railroads and eastern sea carriers, Montreal watched helplessly as some of this business moved farther west, up the now navigable Seaway, to ports in Ontario and on Lake Superior. The Quebec Sovereignty movement, which began to pick up steam in the 1960s, further chilled the atmosphere for Canada-wide businesses, many of which moved their headquarters to Toronto.

Following an economic depression in the 1980s and 1990s, Montreal became more secure in its place in North America and the world. It remains a centre of culture, arts, computer technology, aerospace, the biotech industry, and media for all of Canada and for the French-speaking world.

As the world sees Montreal - Assuming north is up
As the world sees Montreal - Assuming north is up
As we see ourselves - Assuming north is up
As we see ourselves - Assuming north is up

It has been said that Montréal is the only city in the world where the sun "rises in the south."

Montrealers use an unconventional compass, using the river and the mountain as cardinal points. When you are in downtown the St Lawrence River is “south” and Mt. Royal is “north”; making the West Island and the East End correct in both their names and orientations. This tends to confuse visitors because the “East” End is really north and the “west” island is south, and the St Lawrence River runs almost North-South at this location.

Most local maps use this convention as do the highways around the city. For example Autoroute 15 north actually runs north-west and Autoroute 40 east runs north-east.

Gay Montreal

Montreal is an extremely inviting destination for gay and lesbian tourists and it is arguably the most gay-friendly city in North America other than San Francisco. Canada's contributions to gay rights have recently become widely known, but Quebec was the first province in Canada to pass a non-discrimination law for sexual orientation and to provide same-sex civil unions. Same-sex marriage is legal in Quebec (neither residency nor citizenship are required for a marriage license, but there is a three-week waiting period after you receive the licence) as well as in the rest of Canada. Canadian and Quebec immigration law allow residents to sponsor their same-sex partners or spouses.

Montreal itself is a very safe, open, and inviting city. It has the largest gay village in North America (rue Sainte-Catherine from rue Saint-Hubert (métro Berri-UQAM) to avenue Papineau (métro Papineau). The métro station halfway between the two, Beaudry, is marked with rainbow pillars. Montreal's pride celebration, Divers/Cité[2](last week of July, first week of August) is the second-largest in North America after Toronto's.

Get in

By plane

Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport [3] (IATA: YUL) (formerly Dorval Airport) is about half an hour west of the city center on highway 20. Note that travel time to the airport from the city center can be as much as an hour, depending on traffic. The airport is served by all major Canadian and U.S. airlines and is a major hub for Air Canada [4], Air Transat [5], and WestJet [6]. There are multiple daily trans-Atlantic flights to and from (amongst others) London, Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Athens, Frankfurt, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Munich, Moscow, Cairo, and Casablanca.

The taxi fare to and from downtown is a fixed price of $38 (a sticker on the window behind the driver gives the boundaries of the zone where the flat fare applies; for origins and destinations outside this zone, you will have to pay a metered fare). The Aérobus [7] is a shuttle running from Dorval to the aérogare Centre-ville (777 De La Gauchetière, angle rue University) and to the city's inter-city bus station, Station Centrale (505 boul De Maisonneuve East, above the Berri-UQAM métro station), via a number of downtown hotels. It departs roughly every 30 minutes (9AM to 9PM) and every hour from 7AM to 1AM. Adult tickets are $16CAD one-way; a return (round-trip) ticket is $26CAD.

Alternatively, public bus number 204 (STM [8]) leaves from outside arrivals every half hour to Gare Dorval (Dorval train station - check with the driver which direction he is going in, as both bus routes stop at the same place and make sure to ask for a transfer as you will need it later). From Dorval, you can use your transfer ticket to catch bus number 211 or express bus number 221 to the Lionel-Groulx métro. Make sure it is going east as the same routes go west too. Your transfer will then let you into the métro. This costs only $2.75, but exact change must be provided to the first driver.

Another option is to take the VIA Rail AirConnect [9] service from the airport terminal to downtown by shuttle and train. This service runs infrequently, but costs only $11. The same trip can be made on the AMT [10] commuter train for $4.25 from Dorval Station. The public bus ($2.75) from the airport arrives here for busses to the nearest metro station as well.

The Montreal region is also served by Plattsburgh International Airport [11] in Plattsburgh, New York, on the U.S. side of the border, about one hour away by car. Domestic US flights to Plattsburgh can be cheaper than international flights to Canada.

By car

From Toronto, take Highway 401 east about five hours until it becomes Autoroute 20 on the Quebec side of the border. Highway 20 takes about an hour to get to downtown. Be alert for frequent speed-limit changes along this road. To reach downtown follow the Centre-Ville signs and take Highway 720 (Highway 20 continues over the Pont Champlain bridge to the South Shore).


Save money with a rideshare. There are daily rides from Toronto to Montreal and back for $30-50, which is cheaper than any other means of transportation between the two cities. A good website for ridesharing in Canada and the USA is Craigslist [12].

From Ottawa, it's about two hours east along Highway 417 (which becomes the 40 in Quebec) to Montreal.

From Quebec City, it's about 2.5-3.5 hours west on either Highway 40 or 20.

From New York City, take Interstate Freeway 87 north through Albany and the eastern half of New York State for about six hours. After the border crossing near Plattsburgh, the freeway becomes Highway 15, which leads directly into downtown Montreal over the Pont Champlain, the most beautiful approach to the city. The drive time from Plattsburgh to downtown Montreal is approximately one hour.

From Boston, take Interstate Highway 93 to Highway 89 in Bow, New Hampshire, through Vermont to the border crossing near Burlington, where it turns into Highway 133, then Highway 35, which intersects Highway 10, which taken west leads directly into downtown Montreal. The whole trip takes between six and seven hours.

By train

Montreal Central Station (Gare Centrale) is at 895 De La Gauchetière West, one block west of rue University, and is served by the Bonaventure metro (subway) station.

VIA Rail Canada [13] operates fast and comfortable passenger trains from Montreal along the busy Quebec-Ontario corridor and to destinations in northern Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. All fares below are five-day advance booking prices for one-way travel in "Comfort" (coach / economy) class, expect to pay almost 50% more if you book on the day of travel. "VIA-1" (first / business) class is available for a premium and includes a meal, alcoholic refreshments, snacks, and pay-per-use wireless internet in both station lounges and on board the train. An ISIC student card can obtain a discount on all services (both VIA and Amtrak).

  • Five trains a day operate to and from Ottawa (two hours, from $35).
  • Six trains a day operate to and from Toronto (four and a half hours, from $85).
  • Five trains a day operate to and from Quebec City (three hours, from $47).

Six evenings a week, VIA's "Ocean" service departs for the overnight journey to New Brunswick (fifteen and a half hours, from $110 coach, $162 upper berth, $219 bedroom) and Nova Scotia (twenty hours, from $133 coach, $187 upper berth, $245 bedroom). The choice of sleeping accommodation varies according to the season. Along with trains between Montreal and Quebec, the Ocean is now almost exclusively operated by modern Renaissance trains that were originally built for the aborted Channel Tunnel sleeper services between Great Britain and France.

Three evenings a week, the Ocean also pulls the "Chaleur" train as far as Matapedia. The train divides in the early morning and the Chaleur follows the southern shore of the Gaspé peninsular as far as Gaspe (seventeen and a half hours, from $106 coach, $165 upper berth, $215 bedroom).

VIA also offers three weekly round trips to Senneterre, in Abitibi (eleven and a half hours, from $81), and Jonquière in the Saguenay (nine hours, from $55). Both trains operate as wilderness services: a request stop may be made at any point along the route for those who want to hike and kayak in the remoter regions of Quebec that the train passes through.

Amtrak's [14] 'Adirondack' service to New York (11 hours, from $61) departs daily, with connections in Schenectady to (but not from) Chicago (twenty-four hours, USD$114) and in New York to Philadelphia (14 hours, USD$97) and Washington, DC (16 hours, $120). The train also passes through much of upstate New York and hugs Lake Champlain for a large part of the trip. South of Albany, the route follows the Hudson River and passes a number of historic sites. Reliability of the service has improved greatly since an extra hour was added to the previous 10-hour schedule, however one should still factor in the possibility of arriving an hour later than scheduled.

The journey to New York is cheaper but slower than by bus (see below), which takes 7-9 hours, but the superior comfort, extra legroom and ability to walk around the train and visit the cafe car for food and drink at your leisure, as well as the good view from the train of the Lake Champlain and Hudson River scenery, make up for this. While the bus is superior in terms of speed for a direct journey to New York, where getting for A to B is most important, the extra time on the train is more pleasantly spent in terms of comfort and scenery.

Amtrak sadly no longer offers a Thruway Motor Coach connection from Montreal to St-Albans, Vermont, and the Vermonter service, and with it the opportunity to link to Boston by rail; a Boston-bound passenger will as a result be better off traveling by Greyhound instead.

By bus

There are extensive services to Montreal from cities in Ontario, Quebec, New York, Vermont, and Maine. Buses arrive and depart from the Station Centrale d'autobus (not to be confused with the Gare Centrale or central train station) at 505 boulevard De Maisonneuve Est, (directly above the Berri-UQÀM métro station]. Call 514-842-2281 for schedules and prices.

Intercity bus services to Montreal are offered by Megabus [15], Coach Canada [16], Adirondack Trailways [17], Greyhound Canada [18], Greyhound Lines [19], Vermont Transit [20], Voyageur [21], TheLuxBus [22], and Orléans Express [23]. Orléans Express is the principal bus carrier in the St. Lawrence valley, including the Montreal—Quebec City route. Its sister company Acadian Lines [24] provides connections from eastern Quebec to destinations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Voyageur, a subsidiary of Greyhound Canada, provides service to Ottawa, connecting with other bus routes to points in western Canada. Coach Canada provides service to Toronto, connecting with other bus routes to western New York, southern Ontario, Michigan and Illinois. Other regions of Quebec are served by various companies. A map of the intercity routes and carriers in Quebec can be found on Intercar's site [25].

Greyhound Lines offers three daily direct services and Adirondack Trailways offers two daily direct services, from New York, with additional trips operated on weekends and in summer (eight hours, from $76.50USD). Vermont Transit, a subsidiary of Greyhound Lines, offers four daily direct services from Boston, though Vermont Transit is now operating under the name of Greyhound Lines (seven hours, from $72USD). Note that there is no student discount on the Montreal-New York service. TheLuxBus also offers service from New York.

The train is slower, but significantly cheaper; around $62 compared to $70-80 for the bus. However, for $10-15 extra for the bus makes for a much faster journey with a much quicker passage through customs; so for speed the bus is far superior; but for comfort and scenery, the longer train journey is more pleasantly spent.

By bicycle

Montreal is an island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, accessible only by bridge. Not all bridges are bike accessible, however, several are including the breathtaking Jacques Cartier bridge. Prominent bike lanes exist throughout the city, most notably along the Lachine Canal, Rue Rachel and most recently along de Maisonneuve Blvd. However, bike theft is rampant, especially in the Plateau. Most locals can recall at least one time of observing a bike theft; many have seen rows of bikes pilfered at a time. It is not uncommon to have somebody offer you a stolen bike for sale on the street. Be equally aware of the peripheral articles of your bicycle; seats, baskets, and wheels can often be easily detached if not properly secured to the bike's frame.

From Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

The airport [26] is on the western part of the island. From the main terminal, exit onto the main access road and turn right. Wind along the access road until the first major interchange and turn right. You will reach Albert de Niverville Boulevard and be forced to turn left (south) towards the main highway (Autoroute 20). At the end of this Boulevard, turn right on Cardinal Avenue. To your right, you will come to a pedestrian underpass that takes you under the railway tracks and leads to the Dorval Circle, a very busy traffic circle. This looks intimidating, but the traffic lights will allow you to ride safely under Autoroute 20 to Dorval Boulevard (Boulevard Dorval). Continue south down Dorval Boulevard until the end. Turn left on Lakeshore Drive (Chemin Lakeshore) towards the city. This road turns into Boulevard St. Joseph. You will eventually come to a bike path to your right that winds along the shores of Lac-Saint Louis (part of the Saint Lawrence river) through the town of Lachine. Continue down this path until you reach the entrance of the Lachine Canal. Cross the canal and continue down the Lachine Canal Bike Path (Piste Cyclable Canal Lachine) and follow the signs to the Old Port (Vieux Port) in Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal). The Lachine Canal Bike Path can be quite busy on weekends and holidays, so be ready to take your time. It is paved over its entire length.

From Ontario

Cyclist approaching Montreal from the west should take secondary highways to Dorion, where Autoroute 20, inaccessible to bicycles over most of of its length, becomes accessible as it crosses bridges first to Île Perrot (Perrot Island) and then to the Island of Montreal (at Saine-Anne-de-Bellevue). Bicycles should use the sidewalk on these bridges as traffic is usually heavy. From here, cyclists may take Lakeshore Boulevard and the Lachine Canal Bike Path (see Airport section above) to Old Montreal and the downtown core.

The Isle-aux-Tourtes Bridge on Autoroute 40 is not accessible by bicycle.

From the United States

Cyclists approaching Montreal from the South Shore to the south and east of Montreal may access the Island of Montreal a number of ways (See map: [27]).

The surest (but not foolproof) way is using the sidewalk Jacques Cartier Bridge. When it is not closed for repairs, it is open year round and all day. A paved bike path along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River provides the most scenic approach to the bridge. As of July 2007, the sidewalk is closed for repairs [28].

An equally popular route is from the Saint Lambert Locks (Ecluses Saint-Lambert) of the Saint Lawrence Seaway near the Victoria Bridge (Pont Victoria) east of Montreal. The bike drawbridge may be blocked by the entertaining spectacle of a ship passing through the seaway. From here, cyclists take the Grand Prix racing track (Gilles-Villeneuve circuit) on Île Notre Dame to the Concord Bridge to Montreal. This route is closed sometimes for car racing events [29]. In this case, cyclists can take a circuitous detour down a gravel causeway dividing the seaway and river to the Estacade, an ice boom that crosses the river parallel to the Champlain Bridge to Nun's Island and eventually Montreal. A lesser known crossing involves one at the Sainte Catherine Locks (Ecluses Sainte-Catherine) at Saint Catherine south of Montreal. These bridges cross the seaway to the same causeway as the Saint Lambert locks. In this case, the road to the Estacade ice boom is paved. These bike links from the South Shore are open from 15 April to 15 November, from 6:30AM to 10:00PM. [30].

The Champlain Bridge, Mercier bridge, and Lafontaine Tunnel are definitely inaccessible to bicycles. These can be dangerous, even in a car.

Get around

Montreal has historically been divided into east and west by boulevard Saint-Laurent. Numbered addresses on streets that cross Saint-Laurent start there and increase in either direction; most addresses are given as "rue Saint-XXX Ouest" (west) or "rue Saint-XXX Est" (east). Many streets are named after Catholic saints and figures from local history, both well-known and obscure. Note that in Montreal street names, "east" and "west" refer to the direction parallel to the St. Lawrence River, and "north" and "south" refer to the direction perpendicular to the St. Lawrence River. Because the St. Lawrence River runs almost north-south near downtown Montreal, "east", "west", "north", and "south" are actually northeast, southwest, northwest and southeast respectively. Don't try to navigate by looking at the sun!

On foot

Walking is a favoured way to get around the densely packed downtown and the narrow streets of Old Montreal, especially during the warmer months. However, beware during the winter months, because sidewalks can be icy and extremely hazardous after winter snow and ice storms. Winter boots with good grip are essential for surviving pavements that have not been cleared. Beware also (as much as you can) of thawing ice falling from overhanging balconies and roofs. But you can always take the stairs down to Montreal's famous "Underground City" (Montréal souterrain), called RÉSO [31], a network of pedestrian corridors connecting Métro (subway) [32]stations, shopping centres, and office complexes.

Jaywalking is widespread and rarely punished. However, be aware that drivers will usually not stop or slow down if a pedestrian steps out in front of them, even at marked crosswalks. At an intersection, however, a pedestrian will have right of passage before turning traffic and most drivers respect this. Despite Montreal drivers' reputation for aggressiveness, they generally respect pedestrians.

Saint Catherine Street (Rue Sainte-Catherine) is Montreal's main commercial artery and busiest pedestrian thoroughfare. The "Underground City" and the Green Line (or line 1) of Montreal's Metro is easily accessible from all the major office complexes, shopping malls, department stores, and theater complexes that line it. Smaller chain stores and restaurants also vie for valuable commercial space. Well-kept historic churches with green space provide quiet oasis and contrast with the giant neon signs of strip clubs. Major hotels generally can be found one or two blocks north and south of Saint Catherine in the downtown core. Bars, restaurants, and dance clubs cluster within a block of Saint Catherine around Crescent and Bishop streets, catering to a mostly English-speaking clientele. Saint Denis Street (Rue Saint-Denis), further east, and the Gay Village between Berri and de Lormier even further to the east are mostly French-speaking. McGill College Boulevard in the downtown core from Saint Catherine Street offers an open view of Mount Royal to the North and an impressive view of the Place-Ville-Marie skyscraper to the south. Keep your head up and beware of following the flow of the crowd on this street: throngs of pedestrians often walk across cross streets against red lights, risking life and limb.

Prince Arthur Street (Rue Prince-Arthur), east of Saint-Laurent, is pedestrian only. Another pedestrian-only locale is Montreal's Chinatown, situated on Rue de la Gauchtiere between Saint-Urbain and Saint-Laurent. A good trick for navigating downtown Montreal is to remember that streets slope up toward Mount Royal, which is just north of downtown and easy to see from most locations.

The districts surrounding downtown Montreal are especially delightful on foot. To the south is Old Montreal (Le Vieux-Montréal) [33] — its narrow streets and buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries really can make you feel like you're in Old Europe — and the Old Port (Le Vieux-Port) [34], a waterfront strolling park with exhibits and boat tours, is very popular with the locals. To the north, the Golden Square Mile and the McGill University Campus is wedged between Mount Royal and Sherbrooke Street on the southern slope of the mountain. Old Victorian mansions and townhouses can be found along the sloping streets, many now housing McGill University's offices and libraries. Just west of downtown is affluent Westmount, a perfect example of 19th-century English-style homes and gardens (inhabited to a great extent by English-speaking people) climbing the slopes of Mount Royal's western part (the higher you climb, the larger the old mansions). Just east and northeast of downtown are the mostly French-speaking Gay Village (Le Village Gai) and Plateau (Plateau Mont-Royal) districts. Street after street displays turn-of-the-19th-century row duplexes and triplexes, replete with famous Montreal outdoor staircases, overflowing front gardens (or snow-covered gables, depending on the time of year), and tiny shops tucked into every nook and cranny. For people who like to see a culture where it lives, Le Plateau is the place to wander about in.

Mount Royal (Mont-Royal) is also accessible from the urban core on foot. [35]. Fit pedestrians can climb Peel Street (Rue Peel) to the southern edge of the park. A series of renovated staircases will take you directly to the Chalet near the top of the mountain, with its classic view of the downtown core. A more leisurely climb to the top awaits those on Olmsted Road (6.5 km), a wide, gently sloping bike and foot path accessible from the Plateau in Parc Jeanne-Mance (also known as Fletcher's Field). Smaller foot paths serendipitously branch off from this road. A cross-country ski path also winds to the top in the wintertime. Mount Royal's park was designed by Frederick Olmsted , an architect who lived from 1822 to 1903 and was also responsible for the design of Central Park in New York City [36] and the Emerald Necklace in Boston.

By car

Driving (SAAQ [37]) in Montreal can be a challenge for many North American motorists. Although turning right on a red light is authorized across Quebec (except at intersections where a sign indicates this is not permitted), rights on reds are strictly prohibited on the island of Montreal. The stop lights at most of downtown intersections are located on the far end of the intersection, not at the actual stop line.

The use of salt to provide grip during severe winters takes its toll on the roadways, which are either heavily potholed or subject to perpetual construction. Downtown traffic is dense. Street parking can be difficult. Parking meters are in use seven days a week until 9PM, including statutory Holidays. Parking tickets can only be contested in court by the owner of the car that was subject to the infraction, so if a rented car is ticketed the person who rented may be unable to contest the charge. Car parking downtown costs $3 an hour at parking meters or $25 per day at commercial parking lots.

Sign Language

North — Nord, East — Est, South — Sud, West — Ouest, Exit — Sortie, Bridge — Pont

During the winter months, heavy snowfalls are common. In the aftermath of a snowstorm an intensively prepared "déneigement" (snow removal) process begins with intimidatingly large snow plows and trucks clearing, chewing up, and transporting away the snow. If you leave your car parked on a street, pay close attention to any orange signs that might appear on the banks of snow on the sidewalk and listen out for horn sirens. This is the announcement that a street is about to be cleared and that all parked cars should be moved. If you do not move your car, it will likely be towed to the nearest street with space (with a $100 fine) or it could be impounded. It is best to use indoor or underground parking if snow clearing is likely.

Many downtown streets are one-way, which can complicate getting around. If you see a sign at an intersection that has direction arrows in a green circle, that means those are the only directions you are allowed to go. Most left turns are prohibited, although a flashing green light indicates a left-turn priority. Autoroutes (expressways or freeways) can be challenging for visitors, as signs are mostly in French.

By bike

Cycling and in-line skating are very popular once the cold winter weather is over. The city is criss-crossed by 660km of well-maintained cycle paths, including some which cross the St. Lawrence onto the island of Montreal. By far the nicest path is the Lachine Canal path that stretches from Lachine, along Lac St-Louis, down to Old Montreal along the canal. You can cross over to the South Shore either on the Jacques Cartier bridge, Ile Notre Dame, or via the Estacade ice bridge from Nun's Island.

Even if you are on a bike path, beware of drivers as they are not always aware that there are bikes around. Some downtown bike paths are separated from the road by parked cars, which decreases your visibility. If one is comfortable driving in Montreal, one generally can feel comfortable biking there as well. While wearing a helmet is not required under the law, it is highly recommended.

As of May 2009, the Bixi system has been introduced. These are communal bikes you can rent with a Visa card. For $5, you can use Bixi bikes as much as you like for 24 hours, provided you don't use it more than 30 minutes at a time. There are some 200 Bixi stations around: the tourist information center has maps of the stations. You probably want to bring a helmet and you may also want to bring a lock so you can leave your Bixi to go into a shop if there is no station around. Be aware that stations fill up and empty quickly; you may have to bike around a bit to find an empty stand.

Skate and bike hire shops are common, particularly in the Old Port and the Plateau. Visit La Maison des Cyclistes (the cyclists's house) at 1251 rue Rachel Est for all info on cycling in Montreal. (See Do for specific bike paths)

Fanfare for Copland

The sounds produced by electrical equipment when a Montreal Metro train is departing are actually the first three notes of Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland.

Montreal Metro train at Place-des-Arts station
Montreal Metro train at Place-des-Arts station

The public transit system, run by Société de transport de Montréal (STM) [38], is safe, efficient, and pleasant to use. Tickets have been replaced by cards with magnetic stripe containing one trip, called an à la carte ticket. These are valid for one trip (including transfer) on the metro and buses cost $2.75 each, but are also available for about 22.75% less when you purchase six for $12.75 either from the Metro agent or the automatic fare vending machine located in Metro stations.

You need to keep your payment card as it is your proof of payment and transfer (correspondance).

If you are using cash to pay your fare on the bus, it is important to have the exact fare since the driver does not give change; you will receive an à la carte ticket, this is your proof of payment and your transfer. Pictures and specific instructions can be found here: [39]

Tourist passes offer unlimited travel on the bus and metro for periods of one day ($9) or three days ($17) and are well worth it. They are available from most downtown metro stations during the summer, but only at Berri-UQAM, Peel, and Bonaventure stations on the off-season. Weekly ($20.00 regular, $11.25 for students under 18; valid from the nearest Sunday of purchase) and monthly ($68.50 regular, $37 for students under 25) passes are also available. Only students studying at a recognized academic institution in Montréal may benefit from student fares and a special card must be obtained from the STM.

The STM has stopped issuing disposable monthly passes and has started using the reusable OPUS card. The OPUS card is a smart card with a chip that contains your fare and transfer information. The OPUS card can be purchased at all metro stations and transit fare points of sale. As of December 2009 the card costs $3.50 [40]

OPUS cards can be refilled at Metro stations using the automated machines or at the ticket booth. The STM website offers an on-line trip-planner service called Tous azimuts. [41] Trip planning can also be done using Google Maps. Free bus and Metro system maps are available from the ticket booth at most metro stations. [42]

At each subway station, directions are not indicated by compass directions, such as Westbound or Eastbound. Instead, trains go in the direction of a subway line's terminus. The green line runs from Angrignon in the west to Honore-Beaugrand in the east. If you were to travel eastbound, you would look for "Honore-Beaugrand" on the platform. There are four interchange stations at which commuters can change subway lines: Snowdon (Blue/Orange Line), Lionel-Groulx (Orange/Green), Berri-UQAM (Green/Yellow/Orange), and Jean-Talon (Orange/Blue).

By train

Montreal has a commuter train system run by the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) [43] with termini at the Montreal Central Station (Gare Central) and at Lucien L'Allier (both are accessible from the metro). Commuter trains are handy for getting to suburbs and neighbouring towns.

Commuter train stations are divided into six zones that radiate out from downtown. Stations have automated machines from which you must purchase a ticket appropriate to the zones of the station you are traveling to or from, whichever is farther (e.g. a trip from Zone 1 to Zone 3 or vice versa would require a Zone 3 ticket). Trips in zones 1 and 2 can be reduced in price if you have an STM transfer from the city bus or metro. You must then purchase the tarif combiné ticket at a lower cost. Pre-purchased tickets must be validated in the stamping machines at the entrance to the platform. In general, reduced fares (for students and seniors) require ID that is not available to travelers.

There are no ticket machines on the train and ticket inspections are random. If the ticket is not valid, the customer can get a fine of up to $400. In some cases, incorrect tickets will go unnoticed because the security agents pass through only occasionally. Note that instructions for paying are clearly displayed in French only.


MapArt produces an excellent map of downtown Montreal and environs, including Vieux Montréal, Mt. Royal, the Plateau as well as areas as far north as the University of Montreal and as far south as Parc Jean-Drapeau. This is handy so you don't have to keep folding a map of the whole island.

Below is a basic map of the primary areas of interest to visitors.

The dome of the Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal
The dome of the Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal
  • Old Montréal contains the vast majority of historical buildings, most dating from the 17th - 19th century, and many museums. At night several of the buildings are beautifully lit up. A Tourist Office brochure lays out a walking map. Consider following it once during the day, and again at night.
  • Le Plateau combines scenic residential streets with hip shopping and dining.
  • Downtown Skyscrapers, McGill campus, churches, and museums. Several blocks are connected by 30 Km of underground arcades and malls, allowing comfortable walking and shopping when the weather is foul.
  • Parc Jean-Drapeau, site of the 1967 World's Fair, now devoted to green spaces and a large outdoor concert venue. The Gilles Villeneuve racing circuit, home of the Montreal Formula 1 Grand Prix. An artificial beach, a huge outdoor pool complex, and the Montreal Casino are also located on or around the park.
The Biosphere, a geodesic sphere on the grounds of the 1967 World's Fair
The Biosphere, a geodesic sphere on the grounds of the 1967 World's Fair
  • A few kilometres Metro ride to the north, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve offers the Olympic Stadium, Insectarium, Jardin Botanique, and Biodôme. Allow four hours to see all four.
  • Casino de Montréal, 1, avenue du Casino (metro Jean-Drapeau). [44]
  • La Ronde, (member of the Six Flags family) 22, chemin Macdonald (metro Jean-Drapeau). [45] $33.99, $25.99 without rides, 11- pay $20.99; Season pass for individual $85 or family $199. Discounts are readily available: A Coca-Cola tin is worth a $5 discount on any rides ticket.
  • Amazing Race Montreal, [46]. 24 hours. Ever wanted to be on "The Amazing Race"? Visit Montreal in a unique way by booking one of Amazing Race Montreal's self-guided tours. Solve clues to make your way around Montreal's most interesting sites.  edit

Cross-country skiing

During the winter, many parks offer the possibility to do cross-country skiing with groomed paths.

  • Parc regional de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation — Ski rental available.
  • Parc du Mont-Royal [47] — Ski rental available and usually the best ski conditions.
  • Parc Maisonneuve and Jardin Botanique — No ski rental.
  • Year-round ice-skating, 1000, rue De La Gauchetière (metro Bonaventure).
  • Free skating, Lac aux Castors (Beaver Lake), in the Parc Mont-Royal.
  • Free skating, Connected ponds of Lafontaine Park, in Plateau Mont-Royal.
  • Winter skating, in the Old Port (Vieux-Port) in front of the Bonsecours Market and many parks.

Montreal Island's Grands Parcs

The greater Montreal area offers a number of large parks for year-round outdoor recreation. The most accessible are Parc du Mont Royal and Parc Lafontaine in the Plateau, Parc Jean-Drapeau offers the closest beach park, and Parc Maisonneuve, next to the Olympic Sports complex and Botanical Gardens. Further afield, Parc des Rapids and Parc Angrignon are in Le Sud-Ouest and Parc Rene-Levesque further West, with miles of bike paths and access to river surfing.

  • River surfing — Although the Saint Lawrence River is frozen nearly solid for four to five months out of the year, the waterway has become a magnet for aficionados of this new sport. Unlike their oceanic brethren, river surfers ride the standing waves in fresh waterways. The Saint Lawrence has two main hot spots for the sport: Habitat 67 is close to the bridge between Montreal and Ile des soeurs, the site of the 1967 expo and the Montreal Casino. (This wave is also know as Expo 67). The Surf 66 Boardshop at the 1952 rue Cabot offers lessons.
  • Kayaking — Just off the shore of the park in Lasalle are the Lachine Rapids. Huge waves, fast water, and loads of fun for Kayaks. Lessons are available on site in the huge eddy formed by the peninsula. Annual surf (rodeo) competitions at "Big Joe" (formerly called and sometimes still referred to as "Beneath the Wheel" by old schoolers). Other famous play waves on this set of rapids on the St. Lawrence river are, Istambul and Constantinople, Pyramid, Slice and Dice, Black and Decker, as well as HMF on the other side of the islands. For those seeking less of an adrenaline rush, there is always the Bunny Wave (La Vague a Guy) upstream near the bike path at Park Rene Lesvesque. Rafting these same rapids is also a fun option.


An interactive map of the cycle path network is available at the Vélo Québec website.[48] Particularly pleasant places to cycle and skate include:

  • Parc Maisonneuve — A large park with smooth paths.
  • Parc Jean-Drapeau — Particularly the Île Notre-Dame on the Formula One race track: a fantastic view across the water to downtown Montreal.
  • Lachine Canal — Bike paths west of the Old Port.
  • Riviere-des-Prairies — You can ride across Montreal Island from west to east along the river on the north of Montreal. Many sites have incredible views. A stop at Perry Island is a must.
  • Square Saint-Louis, corner of rue Saint-Denis and rue Prince-Arthur, slightly north of rue Sherbrooke (metro Sherbrooke). A charming little park with majestic trees and a lovely fountain, lined with charming houses on three sides (the Institute of Hotel Techniques of Quebec hotel school is the fourth side). This was the site of the first water reservoir in Montreal.
  • Parc Jean Drapeau — The former Expo 67 fairgrounds, Parc Jean Drapeau is spread across two islands (Ile Ste-Helene and Ile Notre Dame) in the Saint Lawrence River. On Sundays in the summer, join thousands of Montrealers reveling in the sunshine and music outdoors at Piknik Électronique. People enjoy riding a bicycle around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track on Ile Notre Dame. La Ronde and the Montreal Biosphere are located here. (metro Parc Jean Drapeau)
  • Parc Lafontaine, from avenue Papineau to avenue du Parc Lafontaine and from rue Rachel to rue Sherbrooke. Ice skating on the lake in the winter, baseball, boules, and outdoor theatre in the summer. (metro Sherbrooke)
Monument Georges-Étienne Cartier. Parc du Mont-Royal
Monument Georges-Étienne Cartier. Parc du Mont-Royal
  • Parc Maisonneuve and Jardin Botanique de Montreal, [49] from rue Sherbrooke to boulevard Rosemont and from boulevard Pie-IX to avenue Viau (metro Pie-IX or Viau). The Jardin Botanique is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world and features the First Nations Garden, the Insectarium, and the Tree House, as well as 16 different themed gardens and greenhouses.
  • Parc du Mont-Royal, North of avenue des Pins, between avenue du Parc and chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, 514-843-8240 ( This beautiful, immense urban park tops the "mountain" (at 232 metres, it's more like a hill) that overlooks all of Montreal and lends the city its name. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York, the park is elegant and accessible, and has hundreds of nooks and crannies to explore. A broad and gradual five mile bike and pedestrian path begins at the Monument Georges-Étienne Cartier (on Avenue du Parc, opposite the western end of rue Rachel, where the bike path continues), winding its way around the mountain and culminating at the Belvédère (lookout) and Chalet Mont-Royal, with incredible views of downtown, the St. Lawrence river, and the Eastern Townships. The Belevedere and Chalet are also accessible from downtown by the newly restored staircase, access via the path at the top of rue Peel. Numerous smaller paths and trails crisscross the park. For lazy visitors, or those with limited mobility, you can enjoy a wonderful view from the mountain by taking bus route 11, which stops at the lookout on Chemin Remembrance, as well as Beaver Lake. Every Sunday during the summer, thousands of people get together at the monument on Avenue du Parc to enjoy the big tam-tam jam.
  • Parc Jeanne-Mance, bordered by avenue du Parc, avenue Duluth (with a small extention south as far as avenue des Pins), rue de l'Esplanade and avenue Mont-Royal, directly across from Parc du Mont-Royal. Includes tennis courts, baseball/softball diamonds, a soccer/football pitch, beach volleyball courts, a skating rink in winter. Also a very popular dog-walking venue.
  • Parc de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation, rue d'Iberville and boulevard Gouin, (514) 280-6733 (metro Henri-Bourassa, Bus 69 east). This regional park is along the Riviere-des-Prairies. Quiet and enjoyable place to bring a lunch and relax for an afternoon. Good starting point for a cycling tour along the river.


Montreal has a bewildering variety of festivals, ranging from one-day ethnic fairs to huge international productions running two weeks or more. They are generally held in the summer and autumn, though increasingly they can be found throughout the year. Here are some of the larger ones:

  • Just For Laughs Festival[50] — Comedy festival with three main components: indoor paid shows (usually stand-up, but not always), free street theatre/comedy, and a mini film festival called Comedia. July.
  • Shakespeare-in-the-Park[51] — During the summer in parks around Montreal, Repercussion Theater puts on outdoor performances of Shakespeare plays free of charge.
  • Festival du Monde Arabe — In November, an annual festival celebrating the music and culture of the Arab world takes place in Montreal. Many Arab performers, traditional and modern, take the stage.
  • Festival Mondiale de la bière[52] — Annually, in early June: Five days of tasting beers, ciders, and other beverages from all over Quebec, Canada and further afield. 2004's event boasted over 340 different beers from 130 countries. There is no admission fee (but you can buy a souvenir sampling mug for about $8) and samples typically sell for three to four tickets ($1 a ticket) for a 150-200 ml sample. There are also scheduled musical performances and food kiosks. The festival can get very busy at peak times (Friday and Saturday evening of the event), so it is advisable to arrive early to avoid possible long queues.
  • Montréal en lumière[53] — A relatively new wintertime affair, attempting to transplant the city's festival magic to the cold season. Includes three main categories of activities: food and wine, performing arts, and free activities both indoor and outdoor. February.
  • Montreal International Fireworks Competition, in La Ronde amusement park (in Parc Jean-Drapeau), 514-397-2000, [54]. This fantastic festival features full-length fireworks displays, accompanied by orchestral music, by national teams from about a dozen countries around the world. Although the hot seats are inside the La Ronde theme park, the fireworks are visible from pretty much any clear space or rooftop in the center of the city. Pedestrians can watch from Jacques Cartier Bridge, which is closed from 8PM on fireworks nights. Another good spot is the promenade west of the Old Port. $35-45 (seats in La Ronde, free everywhere else). Saturdays 10PM from mid-June to late July, plus Wednesdays 10PM from mid-July on.
  • Fete de St-Jean-Baptiste — June 24th is Quebec's national holiday (Fête nationale). During the evening, a huge show takes place at Maisonneuve park. This is the show to go to hear Made-in-Quebec music. Free. Street parties can also be found all over the city.

Music Festivals

  • Montreal International Jazz Festival[55] — The world's largest jazz festival, this festival is a major international event, attracting many big name artists. Many streets in downtown Montreal are closed off to traffic for two weeks and several concert stages are set up. There are numerous free outdoor shows and indoor concerts (paid). Late June - early July.
  • POP Montréal International Music Festival 514-842-1919 [56] — A massive feast of up-and-coming bands in a variety of popular genres. In early fall, host to more than 80 events, 300+ artists, a conference, an arts fair, and more! POP Montreal showcases emerging and innovative artists alongside rising international stars and is committed to encouraging vibrant indie communities.
  • Francofolies[57] — A festival celebrating French music. Similarly to the jazz festival, many free outdoor concerts are offered in a section of downtown that is closed off to traffic for a week. July.
  • MUTEK[58] — An annual gathering, held in Montreal, during the first week of June. The MUTEK festival showcases emerging forms of electronic music and the latest trends in sound creation.
  • Osheaga Music and Arts Festival[59] — Is a two-day indie & alternative rock festival held annually in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène. The 2009 edition is scheduled for August 1st and 2nd.

Film festivals

  • World Film Festival[60] — The Festival is open to all cinema trends. The eclectic aspect of its programming makes the Festival exciting for the growing number of participants from the five continents. Every year, films from more than 70 countries, including well-known and first-time filmmakers alike, are selected. There are usually free outdoor projections every night. Late August to early September.
  • Fantasia (Asian and fantasy) [61], July.
  • Image + Nation (gay and lesbian) [62], September.
  • Festival du nouveau cinéma de Montréal (new filmmakers, well-known auteurs, new media) [63], October.
  • Cinémania (French cinema with English subtitles) [64], November.
  • Les Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (documentaries) [65], November.
  • Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (Quebec cinema) [66], February.
  • Canadiens, Ice hockey, Canada's national winter sport: Bell Centre, 1260 rue De La Gauchetière (metro Lucien-L'Allier or Bonaventure), [67]. One of the greatest institutions in Quebec culture. If you want to see a game, it helps to know someone with tickets, as they generally sell out within minutes of going on sale. They are widely available through unofficial channels and scalpers, but be prepared to shell out as they don't come cheap! You can also get cheaper tickets if you're a resident of the HI youth hostel. You can also stay in front of the hostel and ask a resident to buy a ticket for you if you aren't staying at the hostel!
  • Alouettes, Football (Canadian Football League), Percival Molson Stadium, avenue des Pins at University (playoffs: Olympic Stadium), [68]. A dominant team in recent regular seasons, the Als have won the Grey Cup twice since being reborn in 1996, including the recent 2009 championship. Molson Stadium is an excellent place to see a game, but tickets can be hard to come by. The team has sold out every game in the facility since moving there in 1998.
  • Impact, Association football (soccer), Saputo Stadium located at 4750 Sherbrooke street East and Viau in the Olympic Park (metro Viau), [69]. Consistent contenders.
  • Tennis — Montreal hosts Master's ATP series event (men) every two years. The other year, Montreal hosts a WTA event (women),[70].
  • Formula 1 Grand Prix — Circuit Gilles Villeneuve hosts a race of so called 'pinnacle of the motorsport' almost ever year. The best drivers of the world compete during a three days event which gathers about 100,000 spectators and is considered one on of the classics of this discipline, [71].


Language classes

Montreal is a popular destination for language-immersion programs in French and English. Many schools arrange accommodations — either in dorms or with a family and provide cultural programs with trips around the city and beyond. Prices are usually higher for non-Quebecois and higher-still for non-Canadians. Most are located in Downtown and the Old City. Intensive, non-resident programs are also offered by the YMCA and Quebec government.


Montreal is home to one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious universities, McGill University. Concordia University is the city's other English-language university, the largest East of Toronto, and has over 40,000 students. Its student population is generally more multicultural than McGill's and the school's origins in and continuing emphasis on adult education make it popular for mature students, since it still holds many graduate-level courses at night.

The Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM) and the Université de Montréal cater mainly to Francophone students. The Université de Montréal is the second largest French-language university in the world, after the Sorbonne in Paris and is one of the largest research institutions in Canada. The Université de Montréal has two affiliated schools, Polytechnique Montréal (engineering), and HEC Montréal (business school) that offer undergraduate and graduate studies.

Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke also have campuses in the Montreal area. Every university, with the exception of Laval, lends its name to a subway stop to indicate the university's approximate location. For example, the Guy-Concordia subway station, located at the intersection of Rue Guy and Boulevard de la Maisonneuve, is no more than two minutes away from its namesake university (Concordia).


As Montreal is in the province of Quebec, which has its own immigration policies, persons wishing to work in Montreal will have to go through two processes, once with the Quebec government, then finally with the Canadian government. If you are employed with a foreign company which has a Montreal office, you can seek a transfer. You can also seek a job with a Montreal employer and they can sponsor you for a temporary work visa. If you are a skilled worker (see CIC website) you can immigrate based on your own skills.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows skilled U.S. and Mexican professionals to obtain Canadian work visa provided they are qualified in certain professions. The American Consular Services website [72] provides an up-to-date list of qualifying professions.

If you are an U.S. Citizen aged 18-30 and a full-time student, you can obtain a Canadian work visa valid for six months through BUNAC [73]. Students from France, Britain, New Zealand, and Australia can also benefit from BUNAC work programs. As well, if you obtain a degree from a Canadian university, you are eligible to remain in Montreal and work for up to one year.

For anyone else, the Immigration Canada (CIC) website [74] explains a number of ways foreigners can legally work in Canada.

Student jobs include babysitting, painting during the summer, and moving furniture in June. McGill and Montreal universities are always in search of research subjects and so are Montreal's many biotech firms. Montreal also has many call centers, which constantly seek to hire new employees and offer flexible working hours.

Maple syrup in Old Montreal.
Maple syrup in Old Montreal.

Although Montreal's economy has been booming in recent years, the city remains remarkably affordable compared to other major cities in Canada and the United States. Shopping in Montreal ranges from electric budget stores to high-end fashion, with a wide spectrum in between.


Rue Ste-Catherine, between rue Guy and boulevard St-Laurent, has many of the big department and chain stores as well as a few major malls. Avenue Mont-Royal has funky consignment and gothic clothing stores from boulevard St-Laurent to rue St-Denis and a mixed bag of neighborhood stores, used record shops, and gentrified boutiques heading east towards avenue Papineau. Rue St-Viateur is one of the city's most interesting streets, with its amazingly varied range of businesses crammed into the short stretch between St-Laurent and avenue du Parc. Boul.

St-Laurent remains one of the city's prime shopping streets, more or less along its whole length. Just about anything can be found there, with different blocks having different clusters of businesses (Asian groceries and housewares near de La Gauchetière, cheap electronics a little farther up, hip boutiques between Prince-Arthur and Mount Royal, anything and everything Italian between St-Zotique and Jean-Talon, etc.). Rue Sherbrooke, west of the Autoroute Decarie, boasts an increasingly interesting concentration of largely food-oriented businesses. Jean-talon market, located near the intersection of Jean-talon and St-Laurent boasts a wide variety of local produce and food products (maple syrup, cheese, etc.) at very good prices.


Trendier boutiques can be found on rue Saint-Denis, north of rue Sherbrooke and south of avenue Mont-Royal, as well as rue Saint-Laurent (continuing as far north as Bernard). The latter is in the process of becoming more upscale, so the range of shopping is highly variable and lower in density as one goes north of Mont-Royal. Rue Sherbrooke itself has a number of high-end stores (notably Holt Renfrew) and commercial art galleries in a short strip running approximately from McGill University west to rue Guy. Farther west, Sherbrooke intersects with Greene Avenue in Westmount, which boasts a short, but luxurious retail strip. Rue Laurier, between St-Laurent and its western end, is one of the city's prime spots for eating and shopping in high style, though there are still a few affordable spots here and there.

Furniture and antiques

On boul. St-Laurent, a cluster of high-end home furnishing stores has grown up in recent years. It starts roughly at the corner of rue Marie-Anne and is very prominent in the block between Marie-Anne and avenue Mont-Royal, with sparser, but still interesting stores as far north as rue St-Viateur. Antique buffs will find interesting stores all over the city, but they'll want to make a special pilgrimage to rue Notre-Dame, heading east from avenue Atwater. Rue Amherst, in the Gay Village, also has a significant concentration of antique dealers.

Wing's Chinese Noodles, Chinatown
Wing's Chinese Noodles, Chinatown

Montreal is a culinary mecca and has a huge variety of food options, from diners and fast food to low-cost ethnic restaurants to haute cuisine. The city was recently ranked 2nd best dining city in North America after San Francisco and ahead of New York. The large local Jewish population has contributed local specialties including huge smoked meat sandwiches (beef brisket) (Schwartz's is undisputably the most authentic smoked meat restaurant) and small, crusty bagels (the undisputed classic bagel places are St-Viateur's and Fairmount Bagels). Other specialties are "all-dressed" pizza (pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers), pizza and spaghetti with smoked meat, and Quebecois favorites like split pea soup and poutine.


No visit to Montreal is complete without at least one plate of poutine (possibly from a French word meaning "mess"). This unique dish is a plate of French fries drowned in gravy and topped with chewy curds of white cheddar. There are variations on the theme — adding chicken, beef, vegetables, or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (poutine italienne). Every Montrealer has their favourite poutine restaurant where you can get "the real stuff" but La Banquise, on the Plateau at 994 rue Rachel est, usually tops the list.

Many Montreal restaurants are "apportez votre vin" (bring your own wine). This may sound like a hassle, but you end up paying much less for wine with dinner if you bring it yourself. There's usually a SAQ (government liquor store) or a dépanneur (convenience store, with a limited selection of typically inexpensive wine) nearby; ask your waiter. Your waiter will open your wine for you; corkage fees are rare, but don't forget to factor this service into your tip. If you are driving from the United States, you may find Canadian liquor prices quite frightening. Even the duty free shops along the border are rarely cheaper than an American liquor store (although these are still cheaper than the SAQ). Visitors can bring in 1l of hard alcohol, 1.5l of wine, or a 24 pack of beer.

Separate bills (l'addition in French) are common and you may be asked ensemble ou séparément? (together or separately?) The standard tip for acceptable restaurant service is 15% and is not included.

Never call a waiter "garçon"! Use "monsieur" or "madame".


To buy your own food or regional products, the Jean-Talon public market, 7075 avenue Casgrain (metro Jean-Talon or De Castelnau), is the place to go. Open daily from 8AM to 6PM. The Jean-Talon market is especially noteworthy for its selection of produce; though not strictly part of the market, the many stores lining it on the north and south sides complete it wonderfully with superb selections of cheese, meat, and just about anything edible. The surrounding streets are heavily Italian-flavored and feature a number of excellent grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, and restaurants.

Across town, the Atwater Market is also superb, though quite different from (and much smaller than) Jean-Talon. Here, you'll find the city's best butchers, as well as good selections of cheese, fish, and produce. Located on avenue Atwater, just south of rue Notre-Dame (metro Lionel-Groulx).


Montreal claims to have the most restaurants per capita in North America.

With delis and bakeries and diners galore, Montreal offers great budget dining. Venues are scattered all over the city, but the largest concentration of restaurants is along St. Laurent, St. Denis and Mont Royal in the Plateau. Tasty and cheap ethnic food — lots of India buffets — can be found around the Jean-Talon market.

Two Montreal classics, poutine and the smoked meat sandwich, can make a filling meal for under $10. Pizza-by-the-slice can be had for a loonie, and there's always the option of rolling your own picnic with fresh produce from Marché Atwater or Jean Talon Market.

Several Kosher restaurants can be found within a few blocks of each other on Queen Mary road not far from the Snowdon Métro station and boul Décarie near Villa-Maria -des-Neiges]]. The other greatest concentration of Kosher food in along Bernard in Outremont.

Smoked-meat and sausage poutine adside, Montreal is vegetarian-friendly with several veggie and vegan restaurants and veggie options on most menus.

The best way to find a restaurant, outside of asking Montrealers, is to search through those websites: Chowhound [75] Restomontreal [76] Guide Voir Restos (French) [77]

Montreal is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.

Ice cream

Montreal has a number of excellent ice cream parlours, many of which make their own ice cream.

Havre aux Glaces 7070, rue Henri Julien (Gelato; situated in the Jean Talon market)

Meu Meu 4458 St-Denis (Gelato)

Ripples 3880 St-Laurent (Gelato)

Bilboquet 1311 Bernard W. (Ben and Jerry's-style ice cream - sweet, with chunky bits)


Kosher refers to Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with Jewish law is termed kosher in English, meaning "fit" (in this context, fit for consumption by Jews according to traditional Jewish law).

Morty's Steakhouse 5395 Queen Mary

Yakimono sushi bar 4210 Boulevard Décarie

Exception II 5039 Queen Mary Rd

Chez Benny 5071 chemin Queen-Mary

Chez Benny Express 2075 rue Saint-Louis

Pizza pita 6415 Décarie

Casalinga 5625 Décarie

Famouse Pizza 2145 rue St Louis

Yoel's Dizenogff grill 3460 Stanley, 2ND Floor

Tatty's Pizza 6540 Darlington

Paradise Kosher 11608 De Salaberry

Milk 'N Honey 5756 Avenue Du Parc

Ristorante Maestro 6136 Cote Saint Luc Rode (nice shirt, nice pants)

Pizza Maestro 5800 Cavendish (This is in a mall, located in the food court near Mac Donalds)

Jerusalem express 5800 Cavendish (This is in a mall; it is next to Subway)

Le Grill 6445 Décarie (In the Quality Hotel Midtown)

Ernie And Ellie’s 6900 Décarie (In a mall called Caré Décarie (Décarie Square) but is a buisness-casual type place)

El Morrocco 3450 Drummond (buisness-casual)

Café Dizengoff 5500 Westbury (in the Jewish YMCA) (it has two (2) sepertate kitchens so mornings are the dairy menu and afternoons are the meat menu)


The legal age to purchase alcohol in Québec is 18 and the Quebecois are usually not very rigid in enforcing this age limit. All retail alcohol sales stop at 11PM and bars and clubs stop serving at 3AM.

Quality wine and liquor (but only a small selection of imported beers) can only be purchased at SAQ shops, most of which are open until 6PM Su—W and 8PM or 9PM on weekends; the smaller SAQ Express outlets are open daily from 11AM to 10PM. Beer, and a small selection of lower-quality wine, are also sold at convenience stores (dépanneurs) and grocery stores (usually the same selection as the dépanneurs). Wine sold outside of the SAQ, known as "piquette" by the locals, has been imported in bulk, bottled, and sometimes blended in Quebec —not the best choice to bring to a dinner party.

Montrealers are largely unaware of how blessed they are by the selection of beer to be found in the humble corner store. Two local breweries in particular are world-class: McAuslan (brands include St-Ambroise and Griffon) and Unibroue (Belgian-style ales such as Blanche de Chambly, Maudite, and La Fin du Monde, etc. The U and U2 lagers are rather ordinary). Boréale also makes a good, if unspectacular range of brews.


Montreal has three main strips for bar-hopping. Rue Crescent, in the western part of downtown, caters mostly to Anglophones and tourists. It tends to be trendy and expensive. On the edge of the bar-heavy Plateau, Boulevard Saint-Laurent gets extremely busy when McGill and Concordia students are back in town for a new session. Between rue Sherbrooke and avenue des Pins you'll find trendy clubs and bars with more of a Francophone clientele. Farther up St-Laurent, it's relatively downscale and linguistically mixed. Rue St-Denis, between Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve, is the strip with the strongest Francophone feel. There are also many good bars away from the main strips. You should never have to line up to go have a drink, because there's virtually an unlimited choice.

Watch out for the large number of wasps in Montreal, they tend to take a liking to the sugar in your beer. Many a wasp has been swallowed unintentionally, stings to the oesophagus are the second-most common incident recorded at the local hospitals.

Dance clubs

Dance clubs can be found all over the downtown area, with hotspots on St. Laurent and Crescent St.

  • Saphir, 3699 St. Laurent. Goth and punk nights on two floors, usually very crowded.
  • L'Opéra, 32, Ste-Catherine W. New club, formerly called Le Dôme. Biggest one in the city.
  • La Boom, 1254, Stanley. One of the trendiest club in Montreal. Be well-dressed and have a well-dressed wallet.
  • Cafe Campus, 57, Prince Arthur E. Best known for its Tuesday night $7 pitchers, retro music, and lack of memories.
  • Club Tokyo, 3709 St-Laurent. Dress to impress. Offers various rooms with comfortable couches and an outdoor terrasse. Plays a mix of club music/retro/hip hop that will keep you dancing all night long.
  • Altitude 737, 1, Rene-Levesque. Expensive lounge club and restaurant located in the penthouse of Place Ville-Marie (the skyscraper with the rotating beacon whose lights are viewable 50 km around); offers a unique view of the city's skyline. Has a large rooftop terrace.

After hours clubs

After hours clubs, for those who aren't tired out by 3AM, are open 2AM-10AM. They don't serve alcohol.

  • Stereo, 858 East St. Catherine[78]. Mainly plays house music and occasionally trance/techno. Stereo was once voted #5 of the top 10 clubs in the world by Muzik magazine, as it has welcomed several of the top DJs from around the world. The venue is known to have one of the best sound systems in North America. The crowd is mostly gay/lesbian depending on the night, the age ranges between 20-35, and is often at full capacity. A great place to end the night if you're still not tired after 2AM.
  • Circus, 915 East St. Catherine[79]. Electronica and hip-hop. The most recent and most luxuriously decorated after-hour in Montreal. Lots of space and hidden corners. The crowd is a bit younger (18-25), and doesn't always pack to full capacity. The venue had welcomed a number of big DJs such as Tiesto in 2005.
  • Pang Pang Karaoke Bar, 1226 Mackay St. 514-938-8886. Very comfy rooms in a range of sizes can be hired by the hour.

Gay and lesbian

Montreal has as many gay and lesbian bars as San Francisco and every October on Canadian Thanksgiving (Columbus Day in the U.S.) hosts the "Black and Blue" circuit party, attracting thousands to enjoy the thrill of harder dance music and hordes of pretty, shirtless men. Most popular gay bars can be found in the city's Gay Village, located on the eastern stretch of Ste-Catherine and easily accessible by the Beaudry metro, between Amherst and Papineau. Unity, Parking, and Sky are the dance club favourites, while Cabaret Mado offers excellent drag performances. There are also numerous pubs, male strippers, restuarants, saunas, and karaoke in the area. The four main strippers bars are Stock, Campus, Taboo, and Adonis. The most popular sauna is Oasis. A good place to start any search is with this gay owned and operated link [80] for Montreal, Quebec, Canada with gay travel info in easy to use listings as a directory.


For the budget traveler, Montreal offers youth hostels with dorms or private rooms as well as budget bed and breakfasts (sometimes with very skimpy breakfasts). The densest collection of budget hotels are in the Latin Quarter, in the streets East of Berri-UQAM metro and the long distance bus station. The Old Town has a couple of quality hostels, but you'll pay more to be there.

Mid-range options include Downtown chain hotels to "gites", guest houses that range from a single room in an apartment to elegant historic homes with three to five rooms. Gites are usually found in the more residential neighborhoods like the Plateau.

On the upper-end, four and five-star luxury and boutique hotels are mostly concentrated in the Old City and Downtown.

Montreal is home to four major universities and numerous smaller schools. Students routinely sublet apartments in the summer months.



Montreal has three area codes. The long-standing 514, the newer 438, and 450 for surrounding, off-island areas. The area code must be used for all calls — even if it's the same one you're calling from. For example, calling a 514 number from within 514, use "514-123-4567". Dialing the same number from outside 514 area would be 1-514-123-4567.


Photocopy shops often have internet terminals available, as do many cafés and some bookstores. The Bell phone company has installed public internet terminals (cash or credit cards) in McGill and Berri-UQAM metro stations.

There are also a long-standing cyber/internet cafés (minus the café part) such as Battelnet 24 at many locations in montreal including one at mezzanine level in the rue Guy entrance of Guy-Concordia metro.

The Grande Bibliothèque has many internet terminals, a library card (free to Quebec residents with proof of address) is required.

Of course free internet access is the best kind of internet. The organization Île Sans Fil [81] provides free wireless Internet in cafes and other locations throughout the city. Look for the sticker outside participating venues. The Eaton Center downtown offers free wireless access in the food court.


Red Canada Post mailboxes are found along most main streets. Post offices are often located inside pharmacies — look for the Canada Post logo.

Stay safe

For emergencies call 9-1-1.

Although Montreal is Canada's second largest city, it shares Canada's low violent crime rates making it relatively safe. However, property crimes, including car theft, are remarkably high and you should make sure to lock your doors and keep your valuables with you. Take extra care if you want to visit Montréal-Nord, Saint-Michel, or other eastern parts of the island. These neighbourhoods are the worst of the city and shootings are heard of in these areas.

Part of Montreal's Ste. Catherine downtown corridor is arguably the grittiest part of the city, especially east of Place des Arts. There are homeless people panhandling during the summer and fall. Although most of them are polite, there are some that are more aggressive. Avoid individuals wandering on the streets that appear intoxicated. The street is at its most dangerous around 3a.m. when closing clubs and bars empty their drunkcrowds into the street. You may also come across occasional pockets of street prostitution, especially around strip clubs.

In Montreal, pickpockets are not very common, but keep an eye on things when watching street performances in the Old City or in other crowds.

If you are concerned about safety on the Metro, use the first metro car where the driver is. Emergency intercoms are on every metro car. Emergency phone booths are on every platform throughout the Metro system. The Metro is generally safe. While written instructions are in both English and French, most announcements in the Métro are in French only so if you think you heard something in the announcement that may affect you, just ask a fellow passenger for a translation.

Pedestrians and bike-riders should be especially careful. Crosswalks are rarely respected. Motorists have a general contempt for pedestrians, especially when they are trying to make a right turn at an intersection.

Wasps are a considerable menace during the height of summer. Consider carrying vinegar on your person in case of stings, to help neutralize the sting. Otherwise, see below if you are allergic.

Hospital The closest hospital to the PET airport is The Lakeshore General Hospital located at 160 Stillview Avenue in Pointe Claire. If you do not have Quebec Health Insurance, be prepared to pay by credit card at the door as they do not accept traveller's insurance (but you will be reimbursed when you return home). The number is 514-630-2225.


As in the rest of Quebec, language politics and Quebec sovereignty are contentious issues in Montreal. Don't make the assumption that all French Canadians and Quebecois are in favor of Quebec's separation of Canada. If you really want to discuss those topics with locals, be sure you are well informed. It is still a very emotional issue. Use common sense and be respectful.

The first language in Quebec is French. Making an attempt to use the language is a great way to show respect for locals, whether or not they can speak English. However, it should be noted that Montreal is considered to be one of the world's most bilingual cities with many residents whose primary language is English. In case of doubt, you may want to open with a warm "Bonjour!" and see what language is used in response. Most likely you will be answered in English, if your French accent does not sound local. Try not to take offense if you are trying to speak French and locals respond to you in English. Since most Montrealers speak both French and English they are simply trying to make it easier on you.

Many people working in the tourist and service industries are completely bilingual without accents. But don't make jokes about French people (especially since francophones in Montreal are mostly Québecois with a few Acadiens and Franco-Ontariens, all of which consider themselves different from the French). Also, do not assume that all Quebecois are francophones. Montreal has a significant English speaking community with a long history in Quebec and many immigrants whose first language is neither English nor French.

See also Quebec#Talk, Quebec#Respect and the French phrasebook.

Get out

Montreal makes an excellent entryway for visiting other cities and destinations in Quebec and northern United States. Remember that you will have to pass the border control if you go to the US, and arm yourself with the appropriate Visas and papers. Add at least one extra hour for the border control.

  • Quebec City, about 3 hours to the north east on Highway 40, is almost but not quite a day trip. You'll want to stay over, anyway.
  • Mont Tremblant lies less than two hours north in the Laurentides.
  • Eastern Townships is two to three hours straight east.
  • Ottawa is two hours west by car, assuming one drives below speed limit.
  • Toronto is more distant, but still a doable six hour drive (or a faster 4.5-hour train trip).
  • Adirondacks is a two and a half hour drive to the south. Adirondacks is the largest park in the contiguous United States and offers outdoor activities like hiking, rafting and skiing.
  • Boston is a five and a half hour drive to the southeast.
  • The Chateau Montebello, located an hour and a half west in Montebello, makes for a romantic getaway or stop on the trip to Ottawa.
  • Between December and March there is good downhill skiing in the Laurentians and in the Eastern Townships. There are some very good night-skiing centers such as Ski Bromont and Mont-St-Sauveur.
  • Tadoussac, a few hours away, has great whale-watching
Routes through Montreal
Ends at Hwy 640 ← Boisbriand ←  N noframe S  Ends at Hwy A20 Lachine
Ends at Hwy 117Mont-Tremblant  N noframe S  → US border (becomes ) → PlattsburghAlbany
KingstonCornwall ← Becomes  W noframe E  LongueuilQuebec City
OttawaHudson  W noframe E  Trois-RivièresQuebec City
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MONTREAL, a city of the Dominion of Canada, its leading seat of commerce and principal port of entry, as well as the centre of many of its important industries. It is situated on the southeast of the island of Montreal, at the confluence of the Ottawa and St Lawrence rivers, in the county of Hochelaga and province of Quebec. The observatory in the grounds of McGill University, in the city, has been determined to be in 45° 30' 17" N. lat., and 73° 34' 40.05" W. long. The city holds a fine position at the head of ocean navigation, nearly a thousand miles inland, and at the foot of the great system of rivers, lakes and canals upon which the commerce of the interior is carried to the Atlantic seaboard. The ship channel below Montreal permits the passage of ocean vessels drawing 30 ft. at low water. The deepening of the channel, largely due to the initiative of Montreal merchants, was begun in 1844 by the government of Canada. The work was transferred to the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal in 1850. The depth of the channel was then i 1 ft. Fifteen years later it had gradually been increased to 20 ft.; and in 1888, when the work was taken over by the Dominion government, the depth was 27 ft. 6 in. The Lachine canal, with the chain of artificial waterways that succeeded it, opened the way for the shipping of the Great Lakes. The first sod in the digging of the Lachine canal was turned in July 1821 by John Richardson of Montreal. The same public-spirited merchant presided in April of the following year at the preliminary meeting which led to the formation of the committee of trade, itself the forerunner of Montreal's indispensable board of trade. Even before the close of the French regime in Canada efforts had been made to cut a canal across the island of Montreal, and Catalogne succeeded in building a waterway practicable for the canoes of the fur-traders. The more ambitious canal commenced in 1821 was completed four years later, at a cost of $440,000. Before its completion, however, the increasing draught of inland shipping made it practically useless, and in 1843 work was begun on an enlargement. Since then the canal has been repeatedly deepened, to keep pace with the requirements of lake shipping, until to-day a 14-ft. channel is available. In the meantime the rival method of rail transportation was taking shape, and in 1836 the first Canadian railway was opened, between Laprairie, opposite Montreal and St Johns, in the eastern townships. In 1848 a second railway, from Longueuil to St Hyacinthe, was opened; both these projects owing their existence to the enterprise of Montreal citizens. The broad St Lawrence, however, still lay between the city and the outside world. In 1854 work was commenced upon the famous Victoria tubular bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson and A. M. Ross. The bridge was opened by King Edward VII., then prince of Wales, in 1860. In 1898 it was replaced by the Victoria Jubilee bridge, built on the piers of the old bridge. At the foot of Lake St Louis, some distance above the Victoria Jubilee bridge, the Canadian Pacific railway crosses the river on a graceful cantilever bridge with two central spans each 408 ft. long. Montreal is on the Canadian Pacific, Grand Trunk, Intercolonial, Canadian Northern, New York Central, Rutland, Central Vermont and Delaware & Hudson railways. During the season of navigation several lines of well-appointed steamers maintain communication with Liverpool, London, Glasgow, Bristol and other British and European ports, as well as the principal ports on the river and gulf of St Lawrence and the Great Lakes. A system of electric railways covers every section of the city and affords easy communication with the suburbs and neighbouring towns.

Built originally along the water-front, Montreal has in the course of years swept back over a series of terraces - former levels of the river or of a more ancient sea - to the foot of Mount Royal. Held there, it has been forced around the mountain on either side. Mount Royal, from which the city derives its name and so much of its natural beauty, is a mass of trap-rock thrown up through the surrounding limestone strata to a height of 753 ft. above the level of the sea. Under the direction of Frederick Law Olmsted, it was converted into a magnificent park. Between mountain and river the Lachine canal winds through the plain. In the middle of the river lies the beautifully wooded St Helen's island, rising to a height of 150 ft. above the water, and itself commanding an excellent view of the city. The island, named after Helen Boulle, wife of Champlain, belonged at one time to the barons of Longueuil. The British government purchased it for military purposes, and it still contains a battery of guns and barracks, the latter tenantless, since the island has been loaned to the city for use as a public park.

The city is substantially built, grey limestone, quarried from the mountain, predominating in the public and many of the private edifices. On the south of the Place d'Armes, a small enclosure covering the site of an ancient burying-ground, stands the parish church of Notre Dame, whose Gothic outlines form one of the striking features of the city. Designed by James O'Donnell, the church was built in 1824 to take the place of an earlier structure dating back to 1672. The existing church is 255 ft. long and 134 ft. wide, and accommodates io,000 worshippers. Its twin towers (227 ft.) contain ten bells, one of which, known as " Le Gros Bourdon," weighs 24,780 ib, the largest in America. Two others weigh respectively 6041 and 3633 lb. Beside the church stands the historic seminary of St Sulpice, one of the few remaining relics of the days of French rule. This ancient building is now used for the offices of the Order of Sulpicians, founded by the Abbe Olier in the early half of the 17th century. This zealous enthusiast had sent out Paul de Chomedy, sieur de Maisonneuve, in 1641 to establish the missionary enterprise which afterwards developed into the city of Montreal, and six years later the Abbe de Quelus, with three devoted companions, landed at Ville-Marie de Montreal and laid the foundations of the future powerful Order of Sulpicians. The seigneury of Montreal, acquired by Olier in 1640, is still held by the Sulpicians, and as they have retained large blocks of land in the heart of the city as well as elsewhere on the island, these "Gentlemen of the Seminary," as they were locally called, rank among the wealthiest societies in America. The head offices of the Bank of Montreal face Notre Dame church, on the north of the Place d'Armes, and several other of the leading banking institutions of the city have their quarters in the immediate neighbourhood. In the Place d'Armes itself stands a striking figure in bronze erected to the memory of the founder of Montreal, Maisonneuve. At the base are a series of bas-reliefs setting forth historical incidents connected with the early history of the town. The monument is the work of a Canadian sculptor, Louis Philippe Hebert, C.M.G. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St James stands upon Dominion Square. It is an almost exact reproduction, reduced to one-half the scale, of St Peter's at Rome. The building, projected by the late Archbishop Bourget to replace the old church on St Denis street destroyed in the great fire of 1852, was begun in 1868. On the west of the square stand the Windsor Street station of the Canadian Pacific railway; St George's (Anglican) church, which possesses a fine chime of bells; and the Windsor Hotel. A statue of Sir John Macdonald occupies the centre of the square. Close to the historic Bonsecours Market stands the church of Notre Dame de Bonsecours, founded by Sister Marguerite Bourgeois in 1673 as a sanctuary for a miraculous statue of the Virgin. The original church was burned in 1754, and the present building, erected in 1771, an example of Norman architecture transplanted to the New World, narrowly escaped destruction to make room for a railway station. Curiously enough, it remained for a number of English Protestants to secure the preservation of this relic of the French period. Jacques Cartier Square, adjoining Bonsecours Market, is notable for its column and statue of Nelson, erected in 1808. As the Roman Catholic cathedral owes its existence to the energy and enthusiasm of Archbishop Bourget, so Christ Church cathedral must always be associated with the name of the first resident Anglican bishop of Montreal, Dr Fulford. The church is a fine example of the Early English style of architecture. Beside it stands a memorial of Bishop Fulford, modelled after the famous Martyr's Memorial at Oxford.

The mixture of races and creeds, which is so striking a characteristic of Montreal life, has not only endowed the city with many beautiful churches, but also with varieties of philanthropic institutions. Each of the several national societies - St George's, St Andrew's, St Patrick's, and that of the French-Canadian patron saint, St Jean Baptiste, to mention no others - looks after the welfare of its own adherents. Of the several hospitals, the most venerable is the Hotel Dieu, founded in 1644 by Mme de Bouillon, a French lady of high rank. The original building, in the early days of Ville Marie, stood without the fort, and was fortified to withstand the attacks of the Iroquois. The site is now covered by a block of warehouses on St Paul Street. The present buildings, completed in 1861, contain both a hospital and nunnery. The Order of the Grey Nuns, founded by a Canadian lady, Mme d'Youville, in 1737, cares for hundreds of foundlings and aged and infirm people in the great hospital in Guy Street. The Montreal General hospital was founded in 1819 by public subscriptions, and the Royal Victoria hospital is a monument to the generosity of Lord Strathcona and Lord Mount-Stephen. Besides these should be mentioned the Notre Dame, the Western and the Children's Memorial hospitals. Separate hospitals for contagious diseases are maintained both by the Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Montreal provides for the education of its young people through two distinct systems of public schools, one for Roman Catholics, the other for Protestants, each governed by a board of commissioners. The schools are maintained by an annual tax based upon the assessment, two-fifths of 1% being levied upon the Protestant section of the community for the support of the Protestant schools, and one-quarter of 1% upon the Catholics for their schools. Unlike the neighbouring provinces of Ontario, Quebec makes no provision for a state university. But James McGill (1744-1813) left property, valued at the time of his death at (30,000, for the foundation of a university, one college of which was to bear his name. A royal charter conferring university powers was obtained in 1821. During early years slow progress was made, but with the appointment of Sir William Dawson as principal, in 1855, the institution entered on a career of prosperity. It now embraces five faculties: arts, applied science, law, medicine, agriculture, and comprises the following: McGill College, Montreal, the original foundation; the Royal Victoria College for Women, Montreal, built and endowed by Lord Strathcona; four affiliated theological colleges in Montreal; the Macdonald College, erected and endowed by Sir William C. Macdonald, at Ste Anne de Bellevue, 20 M. from the city; the McGill University College of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.; and three affiliated colleges: Stanstead Wesleyan College, Stanstead, P.Q.; Victoria College, Victoria, B.C.; Alberta College, Edmonton. The finely-equipped Macdonald scientific laboratories, with the Redpath Museum and University Library (114,000 vols. in 1907), form part of a noble group of buildings on the campus in Montreal. Disastrous fires in April 1907 wiped out two buildings and destroyed the splendid medical museum, but the plans for rebuilding provided for further extension and improvement. Previous to the fires the property of the university in buildings in Montreal, including equipment and endowment, was valued at $6,000,000.

The French university of Laval, the chief seat of which is in the city of Quebec, also maintains a branch at Montreal, established in 1877. It embraces the faculties of arts, law, medicine and theology, the latter conducted through the Seminary of St Sulpice. The college library has been enriched by a rare collection of Canadian books and manuscripts, bequeathed by Judge Louis Francois Georges Baby (1834-1906), of Montreal. The medical school, which now occupies a portion of the university building, formerly held its sessions in the historic Chateau de Ramesay, built by the Chevalier de Ramesay, governor of Montreal, in 1704, and occupied after the conquest by the British governors of Canada, until the stoning of Lord Elgin and the burning of the Parliament Buildings in 1849 brought about the removal of the seat of government from Montreal. The Chateau de Ramesay is now the fitting home of a public collection of historic relics. Of other educational institutions in the city the most important is St Mary's College, founded in 1848 by the Jesuits, and removed to the present building in 1855. The archives boast a notable collection of early Canadian manuscripts, upon which Francis Parkman drew in preparing his histories of New France.

Montreal's position as the chief doorway of the outgoing and incoming trade of the Dominion is largely due to the foresight of her great merchants. With the gradual opening up of means of communication by land and water, and the development of her facilities for handling the exports and imports of the country, the city has increased rapidly in importance, until to day onethird of the imports of the Dominion come through Montreal, and nearly 30% of the exports. In shipments of grain Montreal has outstripped all her rivals on the continent except New York and New Orleans, and the building of the Georgian Bay canal will, by materially shortening the distance between the western grainfields and European markets, give her a very considerable advantage over both these ports. In dairy produce she is already the chief export centre of the continent. Montreal is also the financial centre of Canada, and in it are to be found the head offices of more than 2 5 important banks, of the leading insurance companies, and of the two greatest railways of the country.

Montreal is governed by a mayor and 36 aldermen, elected every two years. The city returns 5 members to the Dominion House of Commons and 6 to the Provincial Legislature of Quebec.

The population of Montreal, according to the census of 1901, was 266,826. With the suburbs, it was estimated in 1907 at over 405,000, about three-fifths French.

The history of the town is steeped in romance. From that first remarkable scene, so graphically described by Francis Parkman, when, on the 18th of May 1642, Maisonneuve and his little band of religious enthusiasts landed upon the spot where the Montreal Custom House now stands, and planted, in the words of the saintly Dumont, a grain of mustard seed destined to overshadow the land, the history of the town was to be intimately associated with missionary enterprise and such missionary heroism as the world has rarely seen. Montreal began as a religious colony, but its very situation, on the outer confines of civilization and at the door of the Iroquois country, forced it to become a military settlement, a fortified town with a military garrison. Similarly its position, even then an ideal one from a commercial point of view, made it the dominating centre of the f ur-trade. For a hundred years after its foundation these three influences held sway, more or less mutually antagonistic, the streets of Montreal presenting an animated picture of sombre priests and jovial soldiers, savage hunters in their native finery and more than half-savage fur traders. Within another hundred years, although both priests and soldiers were still to be seen on her streets, they had become but atoms in a larger and more varied population. The fur trader of New France, merged after the conquest in the fur trader of the North West Company - which had its origin in Montreal - remained for a time the one picturesque survival of earlier and more romantic days. Finally, he too disappeared in the multiform and strenuous life of the modern city.


Francis Parkman, Jesuits in North America and The Old Regime in Canada (Boston, new ed., 1902); Newton Bosworth, Hochelaga depicta (Montreal, 1846; repr. Toronto, 1901); A. Sandham, Montreal Past and Present (Montreal, 1870); W. D. Lighthall, Montreal after Two Hundred and Fifty Years (Montreal, 1892); N. M. Hinshelwood, Montreal and Vicinity (Montreal, 1904); S. E. Dawson, Handbook for the City of Montreal (Montreal, 1888); A. Leblond de Brumath, Histoire populaire de Montreal (Montreal, 1890); H. Beaugrand, Le Vieux Montreal (Montreal, 1884); Dollier de Casson, Histoire du Montreal, 1640-1672 (Montreal, 1868); J. D. Borthwick, Montreal, its history, &c. (Montreal, 1 875). (L. J. B.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Montréal



Wikipedia has an article on:


A panorama of Montreal.

Proper noun




  1. A river port and the largest city in Quebec.

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Simple English

File:Montreal arrondissements
Montreal boroughs (in green) on the Island of Montreal (in grey), 2006

Montreal (spelled Montréal in French) is a city in the country of Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec and the second-largest city overall in Canada.

Montreal is built on an island sitting in the Saint Lawrence River. More than three million people live in and around the Montreal metropolitan area. At the center of Montreal lies a mountain called 'Mount Royal', which is almost entirely part of a large city park.

Most of the people who live in Montreal speak French, but English is commonly spoken as well.


The origin of the name 'Montréal' is derived from Mons realis, which means 'Mount Royal' in latin.

Montreal has always played a very important part in the history and development of Canada, and continues to be a large Canadian industrial and commercial center, as well as a major sea port (via the Saint Lawrence River). It once was the largest city in Canada, before Toronto grew to be larger.

Montreal is a very historical and culturally interesting place for visitors. One can visit the Old City in horse drawn carriages, where many buildings from the earliest years are standing proud, all of which is a constant reminder (and source of inspiration) to describe a lot about the way of life that started in the New World, when Montreal was just a fur trading outpost belonging to France over 350 years ago.


Many large corporations have their main offices in Montreal. The city is home to four major Universities, harbouring students from all parts of Canada and from all over the world.


Downtown area seen from across the Saint Lawrence River

Montreal features many beautiful churches (Montreal is referred to locally as 'the city of a hundred churches'), including the largest church in Canada, and also many important art, history, and science museums. You can also visit the location of the 1967 World's Fair, where today, as well as many other attractions, one will find the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Formula One automobile race course. Also of interest is the site where the 1976 Summer Olympic Games were held, and the modern architecture of the Olympic stadium (the 'Big O') and its tall inclined observation tower (the highest inclined tower in the world); now a landmark of Montreal.

A lot of Montrealers are interested in hockey, and Montreal has its own ice hockey team called the Montreal Canadiens.

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