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History of Montréal

Discovered" in 1535 by Jacques Cartier, and founded more than a century later, in 1642, by a handful of French settlers determined to convert the native American Indians to Christianity, Montréal, today, numbers 3.4 million people of virtually every single nationality and creed on the planet. Throughout its colourful history, Montréal has been in turn a French settlement, a British stronghold and a bilingual city. Today it is officially bilingual and proud of its status as the largest French-speaking city in North America. In fact, this is a wonderful example of a truly international city where newcomers feel right at home and visitors will always find someone who speaks their language.

The founders settled along the banks of the St. Lawrence, the majestic river that brought them here. Today as you tour the Old Port and Old Montréal, you'll find that much of what they and their ancestors built has been lovingly preserved: graceful stone buildings, stately churches, cobblestone streets... Elsewhere, historic neighbourhoods are being restored so more people can live downtown, but it is being done very carefully so as to preserve the special character of each area.

Twice Montréal has hosted huge international events: the world fair in 1967 and the Summer Olympics in 1976. Both times the city donned new apparel to receive its guests, and the unique pavilions built for Expo as well as the stunning Olympic Stadium are testaments to the pure creativity and welcoming spirit that drive this city.

Quality of Life
Montréal's quality of life is known the world over. Why? For one thing, perhaps because of its European charm and cosmopolitan sophistication, it is one of the safest cities in North America. Its compact downtown core, set between a mountain park and the wide, turbulent St. Lawrence River, teams with life day and night. Its citizens and tourists alike enjoy an endless array of recreational, entertainment and dining venues.

Among the many tributes continuously bestowed upon the city, one of the most recent originates from the world-renowned design magazine, Wallpaper*. (

In its December 2000 Quality of Life Survey, the magazine rated Montréal as one of the "World's Top 10 Places to Call Home." Seattle was the only other North American city to make the list. Others were Antwerp, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Palma de Majorca, Stockholm, Sydney and Zurich.

According to Wallpaper*:

.the urban centres we've identified in this survey should be seen as a barometer for the way things should be. None are perfect, but all are preferable; none have come up with a secret tonic for city life this century, but all stand above their peers as centres that are making a conscious effort to improve daily life. Some are blessed with good genes (read "geography"), all have proven themselves through innovative design, respect for the environment, investment in infrastructure and effective urban planning.

On Montréal, Wallpaper* had the following to say:

... Montreal is up there in the international league tables - it's cosmopolitan, it's nice to look at, it's more fun than Toronto and it's a city that is serious about food. It's become a leader in the transport sector thanks to Bombardier and its status as home of IATA, and is full of cute students.

  • Global links - ... now that they've brought all international air traffic back to Dorval, things are much improved.
  • Local transport - Excellent subway system.
  • Housing - With the Canadian dollar behaving more like a Third World currency, prices are good and there is no shortage of interesting buildings and houses.
  • Shopping - ... it is on the rebound ...
  • Dining - Good restaurants. Perhaps the best food city in North America. Jewish, Senegalese, Vietnamese, French Canadian are all close at hand, not to mention brilliant bagels.
  • Culture - Decent but you'll be happy you ski.
  • Sports - All your sporting desires are catered to.
  • Locals - Everyone seems to be from somewhere else.

Source: Wallpaper* - December 2000


29 Jul 2006
29 Jul 2006