Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec, Canada, of which it constitutes an administrative region. It is also Canada's second most populated city after Toronto (Statistics Canada), and the world's second largest francophone city after Paris.
Both the federal and provincial governments use the French name Montréal, with an accent, in both English and French; however, omitting the accent is a more common English usage. The name is pronounced /mVn.tri'Al/ in English, /mõ.re'al/ in French (SAMPA transcription).
Montreal is situated in the southwest of the province, approximately 200 km southwest of the provincial capital Quebec City and 150 km east of Ottawa, the federal capital, located in the neighbouring province of Ontario, at 45°30 north, 73°35 west, in the Eastern Time Zone (UTC-5).
Montreal sits on the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence River and Ottawa River; the island divides the Saint Lawrence between the main channel and Rivière des Prairies. The city also includes a total of 74 nearby islands such as Île des Soeurs, Île Bizard, Île Sainte-Hélène, and Île Notre-Dame. The city occupies an area of 482.84 km2.
3,511,800 people (Montrealers; French, Montréalais) live in the greater Montreal area (Statistics Canada 2001), which includes the cities of Laval and Longueuil among others. The current mayor of Montreal is Gérald Tremblay.
The majority of Montrealers are French speakers. As with all major North American cities, however, a great number of people have a different first language from the majority. About 18.4% of the population of the Greater Montreal Area are of allophone mother tongue and 13.8% are native anglophone. On the island of Montreal, the percentage of anglophones rises to 18.8% while that of allophones reaches 27.7%. A majority of allophones speak French or English as a second language. A May 2004 survey noted that 53% of the people in Montreal speak both French and English, while 37% speak only French and 7% speak only English.
While the official language of Montreal is French, services are also commonly offered in English in downtown and tourist areas as well as in areas designated as bilingual boroughs. The city has well-rooted Italian, Jewish, Greek, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Haitian and Portuguese communities, as well as a sample of numerous other cultures from around the world.
The area had already been inhabited for over 8000 years when De Maisonneuve founded the village of Ville-Marie in 1642, near Hochelaga, an Iroquois fort. Ville-Marie grew to become an important centre for fur trade, and was fortified 1725.
Beginning with the 1860s, Montreal entered its Golden Age, that lasted until the Great Depression, and was the most important economic centre of Canada. Numerous smaller towns of the Montreal Island were merged with it, making it again a mainly French-speaking city.
Thanks to competing climactic influences, Montreal's climate is extremely variable (both by season and from day to day) and is considered by its citizens a part of the character of the city.
Precipitation is common throughout the year, with extensive snowfall in the winter (2.14 metres per year on average) and regular rainfall throughout the year. Frequent thundershowers make summer the wettest season statistically, but it is also the sunniest.
The coldest month is January, with a daily average of -10.4°C (13°F), daily maximum of -5.8°C (22°F), and daily minimum of -14.9°C (5°F). Because of wind chill though, winter temperatures don't mean much, and wind chill temperature is given instead in weather forecasts. The warmest is July, with a daily average of 20.9°C (70°F), daily maximum of 26.3°C (79°F), and daily minimum of 15.5°C (60°F). The extreme minimum ever recorded is -37.8°C (-36°F), in January 1957, and the extreme maximum is 37.6°C (100°F) in August 1975.
Moderate to high humidity is common in the summer, making it feel even hotter. In spring and fall, temperatures and precipitation amounts are on average between 55-94mm (2.5-4 inches) a month with the high end mostly in the fall., although some snow in spring and fall is normal. Similarly, early heat waves as well as "Indian summer" are a regular feature of the climate. Specific weather details. (http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/climatology/monthly/CAXX0301)
Despite its challenging climate, the Montreal region supports a diverse array of plants and wildlife. The maple is one of the most common trees, and the sugar maple in particular is an enduring symbol of Montreal and Quebec, thanks to the production of maple syrup.
Economy and transportation
Once the largest city in Canada, Montreal remains a vibrant major centre of commerce, industry, culture, finance, and world affairs. Montreal is a major port city, being at the start of the Saint Lawrence Seaway a deep-draft inland waterway which links it to the industrial centres of the Great Lakes. As one of the most important ports in Canada, it is a transshipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. For this reason, it is part of the railway backbone of Canada and has always been an extremely important rail city (it is the eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway).
The city has two international airports. The primary airport is Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (formerly Montreal-Dorval) in the Dorval-L'Île-Dorval borough, which serves all commercial passenger traffic. Further from the city is Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, which was envisioned as Montreal's primary airport but which now serves only cargo flights.
The Montreal Metro is a metro system, inaugurated in 1966 in time for the Expo 67 World's Fair held in the city the following year. See List of Montreal metro stations. Montreal is also served by a commuter rail system, which is managed and operated by the Agence métropolitaine de transport.
As is the case of cities, an important problem for Montreal is vehicular traffic, especially from off-island suburbs such as Laval on Île Jésus, and especially 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. Accordingly there are only four road bridges (plus one road tunnel, two railway bridges, and a metro line), whereas the Rivière des Prairies is spanned by eight road bridges (six to Laval and two to the north shore). See List of Montreal bridges.
Places in Montreal
The city's downtown area sits at the foot of Mount Royal, the origin of its name, whose forested top is a major urban green space. Southeast of downtown is Old Montreal, a historic centre with such attractions as the Old Port, Place Jacques-Cartier, City Hall, Place d'Armes, and Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica.
Downtown contains dozens of skyscrapers including 1000 de La Gauchetière, 1250 René-Lévesque, and Ieoh Ming Pei's Place Ville-Marie. This cruciform office tower (1962) sits atop an underground shopping mall which forms the nexus of Montreal's underground city, one of the world's largest, with indoor access to over 1600 shops, restaurants, offices, and businesses, as well as metro stations, transportation terminuses, and tunnels extending all over downtown.
Montreal was host of the most successful World's Fair in history (Expo '67) in 1967, and of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Stadium has the world's tallest inclined tower and, until the end of the 2004 season, was the home of the Montreal Expos baseball team. Montreal is also home to the Montreal Canadiens, the locally revered hockey team which is among the most celebrated teams in North American sports.
Montreal is a major centre of Québécois and Canadian culture. It boasts a Museum of Fine Arts, a Museum of Contemporary Art, and a variety of historical, crafts, and specialized museums such as the Redpath Museum of Natural History and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The Place des Arts cultural complex houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and several theatres, and is the seat of the Montreal Opera and usual residence of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (which is scheduled to receive a new concert hall adjacent to Place des Arts). The east-end Olympic complex includes a modern ecology museum, an insectarium, and the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world (second only to Kew Gardens in England).
Nicknamed 'the city of saints,' Montreal is renowned for its wealth of beautiful churches. Mark Twain once remarked, "This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window." The city contains four Roman Catholic basilicas: Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral, Notre-Dame Basilica, St. Patrick's Basilica, and St. Joseph's Oratory. This last is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. Other well-known churches include pilgrimage church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours (called the Sailors' Church), and the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, which was completely excavated and "suspended" in mid-air during the construction of part of the Underground City. All of the above are major tourist destinations, particularly Notre-Dame and the Oratory.
Other notable installations include legacies of Expo, such as the Biosphère (a geodesic dome and museum about the St. Lawrence River, formerly the American Pavilion) and Six Flags La Ronde amusement park on Île Sainte-Hélène, as well as the Casino de Montréal (formerly the French and the Quebec Pavilions) on Île Notre-Dame and Habitat '67 on Montreal Island.
Montreal is informally known as a party city. This may be due to the number of students and pubs. First time visitors wanting to discover Montreal's nightlife should travel down two streets: Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Sainte-Catherine.
Boulevard Saint-Laurent, known as "the Main", runs north-south through the "heart" of Montreal. Indeed, Saint-Laurent is the street that divides the island east from west, and has some historical significance as the linguistic barrier of Montreal -- with Anglophones typically inhabiting the west side of St-Laurent and francophones inhabiting the east, although this "barrier" is more porous today than before. Saint-Laurent is lined with a number of restaurants, bars, cafés, and retail stores, making it one of the liveliest streets in the city. The street runs from Chinatown, up through the eastern portion of Montreal's downtown, and passes through the Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile-End districts (inner-city neighbourhoods that are undergoing gentrification).
Rue Sainte-Catherine is an east-west street that passes straight through the downtown core. There are many boutiques and restaurants, as well as strip clubs (which are legal and regulated in Montreal).
Rue Saint-Denis, running six blocks east of Boulevard Saint-Laurent, and the Old Port area are also prized destinations for tourists as well as locals.
Rue Crescent is a relatively small south-to-north street that crosses Rue Sainte-Catherine near downtown's westernmost extremity. It houses a variety of more upscale night-clubs and terrasses, including Montreal's Hard Rock Café.
Part of rue Prince Arthur is a pedestrian street or auto-free zone (Montreal's first). The pedestrian-only section runs east from Boulevard Saint-Laurent to Carré Saint-Louis, next to Rue Saint-Denis. The street is lined with restaurants and bars, which keep it lively even in the winter.
The "Tam-Tams" is a popular event which takes place every Sunday from May to September, at the foot of the eastern side of Mount Royal. Hundreds of people gather around the Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument to beat on drums. From its humble beginnings as a "get-together" of a dozen drummers in 1978, it has become a "must see" summer attraction, where anyone with a drum can simply join in and start drumming. In addition to the thousands of spectators and drummers are a number of craft vendors, who sell shirts, jewellery, and the like. The city administration considers the Tam-Tams to be a "spontaneous event," as it is not officially sanctioned by them, nor does it have an official organization or some form of leadership.
Since 1980, Montreal has hosted the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, a very popular music event that attracts some hundreds of thousands every summer.
The city, with its huge Village, one of the largest gay villages in North America, hosts several major circuit parties and is an epicentre of gay life in Canada. The city was slated to hold the Gay Games in 2006, but the FGG and Montréal 2006 were unable to agree on the size of the event. Instead, Montreal will be hosting the first edition of the World Outgames, under the name Montréal Rendez-vous 2006.
Orientation and numbering
As Montreal is on an island; the directions Montrealers use in navigating the city do not precisely correspond with compass directions, but are oriented to the geography of the island. The convention for the use of compass directions is that the St. Lawrence River flows west to east; in reality, it flows from the southwest toward the northeast.
North and south directions are defined as roughly perpendicular to the St. Lawrence River and the Rivière des Prairies. North is toward the Rivière des Prairies; south is toward the St. Lawrence River. On north–south streets, house numbers begin at one at the St. Lawrence River and increase to the north.
East and west directions are defined as roughly parallel to the St. Lawrence River and the Rivière des Prairies. East is downstream; west is upstream. Boulevard Saint-Laurent divides Montreal into east and west sectors. Streets that lie on both sides of boulevard Saint-Laurent are divided into two parts, which have "East" (est) or "West" (ouest) appended to their names. Streets that lie on only one side of boulevard Saint-Laurent do not generally contain a direction in their names. House numbers begin at one at boulevard Saint-Laurent. East of it, numbers increase to the east; west of it, numbers increase to the west.
Odd numbers are on the east or north sides of the street; even, west or south. Numbered streets generally run north and south, and the street numbers increase to the east.
According to the rules of the Commission de toponymie du Québec (http://www.toponymie.gouv.qc.ca/), the French-language form of street names is the only official one, and is to be used in any language: e.g. chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges; rue Sainte-Catherine; côte du Beaver Hall. Many English speakers, however, use English generics (such as "street" or "road"). Officially bilingual boroughs have the right to use such names in official contexts, such as on street signs.
In the past, a number of streets had both English and French names, such as avenue des Pins or Pine Avenue, rue Saint-Jacques or St. James Street, rue de la Montagne or Mountain Street. Some of these names are still in common colloquial use in English.
There are many streets whose French names incorporate an English specific, such as chemin Queen Mary, rue University, avenue McGill College. There are also a few cases where two names are official, such as chemin du Bord-du-Lac/chemin Lakeshore.
Montreal has one of the highest per-capita populations of post-secondary students of any large city in North America, due to its four urban universities:
Montreal is the site of the Canadian Grand Prix, a Formula One auto race held annually at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame. On July 13, 1982, Montreal hosted the first baseball All-Star Game outside the United States.
af:Montreal da:Montréal de:Montréal es:Montreal eo:Montrealo fr:Montréal la:Mons Regius nl:Montréal ja:モントリオール pl:Montreal simple:Montreal fi:Montreal sv:Montreal, Quebec zh:蒙特利尔