Canada travel guide




Montreal Travel Guide

Montreal History

A stockaded Native American village, Hochelaga, was found on the site (1535) by Cartier, and the island was visited in 1603 by Champlain, but it was not settled by the French until 1642, when a band of priests, nuns, and settlers under Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, founded the Ville Marie de Montréal. They were on orders from Paris to "bring about the Glory of God and the salvation of the Indians", a mission that predictably enough found little response from the aboriginal peoples.

The settlement grew to become an important center of the fur trade and the starting point for the western expeditions of Jolliet, Marquette, La Salle, Vérendrye, and Duluth. It was fortified in 1725 and remained in French possession until 1760, when Vaudreuil de Cavagnal surrendered it to British forces under Amherst. Americans under Richard Montgomery occupied it briefly (1775–76) during the American Revolution.

The city's growth was aided by the opening in 1825 of the Lachine Canal, making possible water communications with the Great Lakes. From 1844 to 1849, Montreal was the capital of United Canada.

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The city's growth was spurred by the opening of the Lachine Canal, which permitted ships to pass by the unnavigable Lachine Rapids south of the island. Montreal was the capital of the United Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, bringing even more English-speaking immigrants. The now large and wealthy Anglophone community built one of Canada's first universities, McGill, and built large mansions at the foot of Mont Royal.

In 1852, Montreal had 58,000 inhabitants and by 1860, Montreal was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway made its headquarters there in 1880, and the Canadian National Railway in 1919. With the annexation of neighbouring towns between 1883 and 1918, Montreal became a mostly Francophone city again. The tradition to alternate between a francophone and an anglophone mayor began and lasted until 1914.

With the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, Montréal emerged as the new nation's premier port, railroad nexus, banking centre and industrial producer. Its population reached half a million in 1911 and doubled in the next two decades with an influx of émigrés from Europe.

The Canadian Pacific Railway established its headquarters here in the 1880s. Montreal held the much-praised international exposition of 1967, known as Expo '67, and further increased its international stature by hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Montreal celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1992, prompting the construction of two of Montreal's tallest skyscrapers: 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. Currently, Montreal's favourable economic conditions allow further improvements in infrastructure with the expansion of the metro system and the development of a ring road around the island. Neighbourhood gentrification is also occurring. Montreal now constitutes one of the regions of Quebec.

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