|View of downtown Montreal, with the city's tallest building 1000 de la Gauchetière; Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral; and 1250 René-Lévesque|
Montreal (French, Montréal) is the largest city in the province of Quebec. It is located 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 current mayor of Montreal is Gérald Tremblay[?].
The city occupies an area of 482.84 km2, and is located at 45°30N, 73°30W, in the Eastern Time Zone (UTC-5).
Formerly the largest city in Canada, Montreal is now the second largest after Toronto, and a major centre of commerce, industry, culture, finance, and world affairs. It is the second largest francophone city in the world after Paris; many people in Montreal speak both French and English. The official language of Montreal is French. Services are offered in English in the bouroughs designated as bilingual.
Montreal is a major port city, being at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence Seaway which links it to the industrial centres of the Great Lakes. As the most important port 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.
The city has two international airports, Dorval (which serves all passenger traffic) and Mirabel, as well as the Montreal Metro, a metro system which was inaugurated in 1966 in time for the Expo 67 World's Fair held in the city the following year.
The city's downtown area sits at the foot of Mount Royal, the origin of its name, whose forested top is a major urban greenspace. 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 Basilica.
Downtown contains several skyscrapers including 1000 de La Gauchetière, 1250 René-Lévesque, and Ioeh Ming Pei's Place Ville-Marie. This cruciform office tower (1962) sits atop an underground shopping mall which forms the nexus of the Underground City, one of the world's largest, with indoor access to hundreds of shops, restaurants, offices, and businesses, as well as Metro stations, transportation terminuses, and tunnels extending all over downtown.
Montreal is a major centre of Quebecois and Canadian culture. It boasts a Museum of Fine Arts, a Museum of Contemporary Art, and a variety of historical, crafts, and specialized museums. 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 one of the largest botanical gardens in the world (second only to Kew Gardens in England).
The city is renowned for its wealth of beautiful churches, of which some of the best known are the Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral, Notre-Dame Basilica, and the pilgrimage churches of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours (called the Sailors' Church) 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 Saint Patrick's Basilica, and the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral[?], which was completely excavated and "suspended" in mid-air during the construction of part of the Underground City.
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 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 is the home town of the Montreal Expos baseball team.
Montreal is slated to host the Gay Games in 2006; the city, with its huge Village, the largest gay village in North America, hosts several major circuit parties[?] and is an epicentre of gay life in Canada.
A First Nations fort, Hochelaga, was found on the island when Jacques Cartier arrived in 1535. Samuel de Champlain visited again in 1603, but the French did not settle until 1642, when a group of priests, nuns, and colonists under Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded the village of Ville-Marie on May 17 of that year. The village grew and became an important centre of the fur trade. It was the jumping-off point for the French exploration of the interior by such explorers as Jolliet, La Salle, La Vérendrye, and Duluth[?]. The city was fortified in 1725 and remained French until 1760, when Vaudreuil de Cavagnal surrendered it to the British army under Lord Geoffrey Amherst.
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 Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849. A fire destroyed one quarter of town on May 18, 1765. The Canadian Pacific Railway made its headquarters here in 1880. Its international status was cemented by the World's Fair in 1967 and the Olympics in 1976.
Montreal constitutes one of the regions of Quebec.
Notable personalities in Montreal's history:
As of January 1, 2002, the entire island of Montreal, home to 1.8 million people, as well as the several outlying islands that were also part of the Montreal Urban Community, were merged into a new "megacity". Some 27 suburbs as well as the former city were folded into several boroughs, named after their former cities or (in the case of parts of the former Montreal) districts.
|Côte-Saint-Luc[?]/Hampstead/Montréal-Ouest[?]||Mont-Royal||Sud-Ouest (consisting of Point-Saint-Charles[?], Saint-Henri[?], Ville-Émard[?], Côte-Saint-Paul[?] & Petite-Bourgogne[?])|
|Dorval/L'Île-Dorval||Pierrefonds[?]/Senneville[?]||Ville-Marie (consisting of Downtown, Old Montreal, & the Gay Village)|
|Italics: part of former city of Montreal|