History of Montreal

History of Montreal

The human history of Montreal, located in Quebec, Canada, spans some 8,000 years and started with the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois tribes of North America. Jacques Cartier became the first European to reach the area now known as Montreal in 1534 when he entered the village of Hochelega on the Island of Montreal while in search of a passage to Asia during the Age of Exploration. Seventy years later, Samuel de Champlain unsuccessfully tried to create a fur trading post but the local Iroquois defended their land. A mission named Ville Marie was built in 1642 as part of a project to create a French colonial empire. Ville Marie became a centre for the fur trade and French expansion into New France until 1760, when it was surrendered to the British army, following the defeat of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. British immigration expanded the city and the city's golden era of fur trading began with the advent of the locally-owned North West Company.

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The city's growth was spurred by the opening of the Lachine Canal and Montreal was the capital of the United Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849. Growth continued and by 1860 Montreal was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada. Annexation of neighbouring towns between 1883 and 1918 changed Montreal back to a mostly Francophone city. During the 1920s and 1930s the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montreal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol. As with the rest of the world, the Great Depression brought unemployment to the city but this waned in the mid 1930s and skyscrapers began to be built.

World War II brought protests against conscription and caused the Conscription Crisis of 1944. Montreal's population surpassed one million in the early 1950s. A new metro system was added, Montreal's harbour was expanded and the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened during this time. More skyscrapers were built along with museums. International status was cemented by Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics. A major league baseball team, called the Montreal Expos started playing in Montreal in 1969 but the team moved to Washington, DC to become the Washington Nationals in 2005.


The area known today as Montreal had been inhabited by the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois for some 8,000 years, while the oldest known artifact found in Montreal proper is about 4,000 years old. [cite web|publisher=Société de développement de Montréal|title=Place Royale and the Amerindian presence|month=September|year=2001|url=http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca/tour/etape9/eng/9text3a.htm|accessdate=2007-03-09]

The arrival of the French

The first European to reach the area was Jacques Cartier on October 2, 1535. Seventy years after Cartier, Samuel de Champlain went to Hochelaga but the village no longer existed. He decided to establish a fur trading post at Place Royal on the Island of Montreal, but the local Iroquois successfully defended their land. It was not until 1639 that a permanent settlement was created on the Island of Montreal by a French tax collector named Jérôme Le Royer. Under the authority of the Roman Catholic "Société Notre-Dame", missionaries Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and a few French colonists set up a mission named Ville Marie on May 17, 1642 as part of a project to create a colony dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1644, Jeanne Mance founded the Hôtel-Dieu, the first hospital in North America, north of Mexico. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=uJ6dtAMcgeAC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=%22first+hospital+in+north+america%22+-wikipedia&source=web&ots=nhiWaiA24f&sig=KmA5Aut061dfmMsdZRCpzdFPRgE Google books] accessed December 23, 2007]

Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve would act as governor of the colony. On January 4 1648, he granted Pierre Gadois (who was in his fifties) the first concession of land - some 40 acres. In November of 1653, another 140 individuals arrived to enlarge the settlement.

By 1651, Ville-Marie had been reduced to less than 50 inhabitants by relentless attacks by Iroquois. Maisonneuve returned to France that year with the intention of recruiting 100 men to bolster the failing colony. He had already decided that should he fail to recruit these settlers, he would abandon Ville-Marie and move everyone back downriver to Quebec City. (Even 10 years after its founding, the people of Quebec City still thought of Montreal as "une folle entreprise" - a crazy undertaking.)cite book|last=Auger|first=Roland J.|title=La Grande Recrue de 1653|work=Publications de la Société Génélogique Canadienne-Française - No 1|location=Montreal|year=1955] These recruits arrived on 16th November 1653 and essentially guaranteed the evolution of Ville Marie and of all New France. Marguerite Bourgeoys would found the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Montreal's first school, in 1653. In 1663, the Sulpician seminary became the new Seigneur of the island.

Ville Marie would become a centre for the fur trade. The town was fortified in 1725. The French and Iroquois Wars would threaten the survival of Ville-Marie until a peace treaty (see the "Great Peace of Montreal" [cite web|url=http://www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/en/page_89.asp|publisher=Government of Canada|work=The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada|title=The Exhaustion Of The Iroquois|date=2004-06-20|accessdate=2007-08-02] ) was signed at Montreal in 1701. With the Great Peace, Montreal and the surrounding "seigneuries" nearby (Terrebonne, Lachenaie, Boucherville, Lachine, Longueuil, ...) could develop without the fear of Iroquois raids. [cite web
title=The Shock Of The Attack On Lachine
work=The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada
publisher=Department of National Defence, Canada

urrender of the colony

Ville-Marie remained French settlement until 1760, when Pierre François de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal surrendered it to the British army under Jeffrey Amherst. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the Seven Years' War and ceded Canada and all its dependencies to the Kingdom of Great Britain ["his Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannick Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants" – [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Paris_%281763%29 "Treaty of Paris"] , 1763] . American Revolutionists under General Richard Montgomery briefly captured the city during the 1775 invasion of Canada. [cite web|url=http://www.americanrevolution.com/his_first_phase_invasion.html|title=The Invasion of Canada and the Fall of Boston|accessdate=2007-08-02|publisher=americanrevolution.com]

Now a British colony, and with immigration no longer limited to members of the Roman Catholic religion, the city began to grow from British immigration. In 1775, the Continental Army briefly held the city but soon left when it became apparent that they could not take and hold Canada. More and more English-speaking merchants continued to arrive in what had by then become known as Montreal and soon the main language of commerce in the city was English. The golden era of fur trading began in the city with the advent of the locally-owned North West Company, the main rival to the primarily British Hudson's Bay Company.

The town remained populated by a majority of Francophones until around the 1830s. From the 1830s, to about 1865, it was inhabited by a majority of Anglophones, most of recent immigration from the British Isles or other parts of British North America. Fire destroyed one quarter of the town on May 18, 1765.

cottish contributions

Scots constructed Montreal's first bridge across the Saint Lawrence River and founded many of the city's great industries, including Morgan's, the first department store in Canada, incorporated within the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1970s; the Bank of Montreal; Redpath Sugar; and both of Canada's national railroads. The city boomed as railways were built to New England, Toronto, and the west, and factories were established along the Lachine Canal. Many buildings from this time period are concentrated in the area known today as Old Montreal. Noted for their philanthropic work, Scots established and funded numerous Montreal institutions such as McGill University, the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec and the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The City of Montreal

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: Late Loyalists, Irish, Scottish, and English. Riots led by the Anglophone community led to the burning of the Canadian Parliament, forcing the Empire to choose another city to represent the capital of its colony. [cite web
url=http://www.vehiculepress.com/montreal/oldmontreal.html |title=Walking Tour of Old Montreal |work=Vehicule Press
] On a more positive note, the Anglophone community built one of Canada's first universities, McGill, and the wealthy built large mansions at the foot of Mont Royal.

These linked the established port of Montreal with continental markets and spawned rapid industrialization during the mid 1800s. The economic boom attracted French Canadian labourers from the surrounding countryside to factories in satellite cities such as Saint-Henri and Maisonneuve. Irish immigrants settled in tough working class neighbourhoods such as Point Saint Charles and Griffintown, making English and French linguistic groups roughly equal in size. The growing city also attracted immigrants from Italy, and Eastern Europe.

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. From 1861 to the Great Depression of 1930, Montreal went through what some historians call its Golden Age. St. James Street became the most important economic centre of the Dominion of Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway made its headquarters there in 1880, and the Canadian National Railway in 1919. At the time of its construction in 1928, the new head office of the Royal Bank of Canada at 360 St. James Street was the tallest building in the British Empire. With the annexation of neighbouring towns between 1883 and 1918, Montreal became a mostly Francophone city again. The tradition of alternating between a francophone and an anglophone mayor thus began, and lasted until 1914.

War and the Great Depression

Montrealers volunteered to serve in the army to defend Canada during World War I, but most French Montrealers opposed mandatory conscription. After the war, the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montreal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol. Americans would go to Montreal for drinking, gambling, and prostitution, unrivalled in North America at this time, which earned the city the nickname "Sin City." [cite web|url=http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/north-america/canada/montreal?v=print|title=Lonely Planet Montreal Guide - Modern History|accessdate=2007-08-02|publisher=Lonely Planet]

Despite the increase in tourism, unemployment remained high in the city, and was exacerbated by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. However, Canada began to recover from the Great Depression in the mid 1930s, and real estate developers began to build skyscrapers, changing Montreal's skyline. The Sun Life Building, built in 1931, was for a time the tallest building in the Commonwealth. During World War II its vaults were the secret hiding place of the gold bullion of the Bank of England and the British Crown Jewels.

Canada could not escape World War II. Mayor Camillien Houde protested against conscription. He urged Montrealers to ignore the federal government's registry of all men and women because he believed it would lead to conscription. Ottawa, considering Houde's actions treasonable, put him in a prison camp for over four years, from 1940, until 1944, when the government was forced to institute conscription (see Conscription Crisis of 1944).

The Quiet Revolution and the modernization of Montreal

By the beginning of the 1960s, a new political movement was rising in Quebec. The newly elected Liberal government of Jean Lesage made reforms that helped francophone Quebecers gain more and more influence in politics and in the economy, thus changing the face of the city. More businesses were starting to be owned and by francophones as Montreal became the center of French culture in North America.

A two-year period from 1962 to 1964 saw the completion of four of Montreal's ten tallest buildings: Tour de la Bourse, Place Ville-Marie, the CIBC Building and CIL House. Montreal gained an increased international status due to the World's Fair of 1967, Expo 67. During the 1960s, mayor Jean Drapeau carried out a series of infrastructure upgrades throughout the city such as the construction of the Montreal Metro while the provincial government built much of what is today's highway system. Like many other North American cities during these years, Montreal experienced massive growth too quickly for its infrastructures to satisfy its needs.

The Quebec Independence Movement and slowdown of the economy

At the end of the 1960s, the independence movement in Quebec was in full swing due to a constitutional debate between the Ottawa and Quebec governments. The movement caused a radical groups to form, notably the FLQ. The group kidnapped and murdered Pierre Laporte, a minister in the National Assembly; and also kidnapped James Cross, a British diplomat who was later released. These events are known as the October Crisis of 1970. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada at the time, ordered military occupation of Montreal for weeks and gave excessive powers to police in his passing of the War Measures Act. After the incident only came more support for sovereignty with the Parti Québécois holding two referendums on the question in 1980 and in 1995.

The shift of businesses to Toronto, which began following the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959, accelerated as a result of the unrest and political changes. A large number of businesses subsequently moved their head offices to Toronto and elsewhere outside Quebec and about 300 000 English-speaking Quebecers followed in those decades. The extent of the transition was greater than the norm for major urban centres, with social and economic impacts, as a significant number of (mostly Anglophone) Montrealers, as well as businesses, migrated to other provinces, away from an uncertain political climate. Bill 101 was passed in 1977 and gave primacy to French as Quebec's (and Montreal's) only official language for government, the main language of business and culture, and enforced the exclusive use of French for public signage and business communication.

Despite holding the 1976 Summer Olympics, Montreal lost the title of Canada's largest and most influential city to Toronto by the end of the 1970s.

Economic recovery

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. [cite news |first=James |last=Brooke |title=Montreal Journal; No Longer Fading, City Booms Back Into Its Own |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9406E3D91438F935A35756C0A9669C8B63 |work=New York Times |date=2000-05-06 |accessdate=2008-04-12 ]

As the city celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1992, construction began on two new skyscrapers : 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. Montreal's improving economic conditions allowed further enhancements of the city infrastructure, with the expansion of the metro system, construction of new skyscrapers and the development of new highways including the start of a ring road around the island. The city also attracted several international organisations to move their secretariats into Montreal's Quartier International: International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda), [http://www.ibcr.org International Bureau for Children's Rights] (IBCR), [http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org International Centre for the Prevention of Crime] (ICPC) and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). With developments such as Centre de Commerce Mondial (World Trade Centre), Quartier International, Square Cartier, and proposed revitalization of the harborfront, the city is regaining its international position as a world class city.

Merger and demerger

The idea of uniting the island of Montreal under one municipal government was first proposed by Jean Drapeau in the 1960s. The idea was strongly opposed in many suburbs, although three towns (Rivière-des-Prairies, Saraguay and Ville Saint Michel, now the Saint-Michel neighbourhood) were annexed to Montreal between 1963 and 1968. Pointe-aux-Trembles was annexed in 1982.

In 2001, the provincial government announced a plan to merge major cities with their suburbs. 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.

During the 2003 provincial elections, the winning Liberal Party had promised to submit the mergers to referendums. On June 20, 2004, a number of the former cities voted to demerge from Montreal and regain their municipal status, although not with all the powers they once had. Baie-d'Urfé, Beaconsfield, Côte-Saint-Luc, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, the uninhabited L'Île-Dorval, Hampstead, Kirkland, Montreal East, Montreal West, Mount Royal, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Senneville, and Westmount voted to demerge. The demergers came into effect on January 1, 2006.

Anjou, LaSalle, L'Île-Bizard, Pierrefonds, Roxboro, Sainte-Geneviève, and Saint-Laurent had a majority in favour of demerger, but the turnout was insufficient to permit demerger, so those former municipalities will remain part of Montreal. No referendum was held in Lachine, Montreal north, Outremont, Saint Leonard, or Verdun - nor in any of the boroughs that were part of the former city of Montreal.

There are now 16 municipalities on the Island of Montreal (the city of Montreal proper plus 15 independent municipalities). The post-demerger city of Montreal (divided into 19 boroughs) has a territory of 366.02 km² (141.3 square miles) and a population of 1,583,590 inhabitants (based on 2001 census figures). Compared with the pre-merger city of Montreal, this is a net increase of 96.8% in land area, and 52.3% in population.

The city of Montreal still has almost as many inhabitants as the old unified city of Montreal (the suburban municipalities now recreated are less densely populated than the core city), even though population growth will be slower for some time. They also say that the overwhelming majority of industrial sites are now located on the territory of the post-demerger city of Montreal. Nonetheless, the post-demerger city of Montreal is only about half the size of the post-1998 merger city of Toronto (both in terms of land area and population).

However, it should be noted that the 15 recreated municipalities do not have as many powers as they did before the merger. Many powers remain with a joint board covering the entire Island of Montreal, in which the city of Montreal has the upper hand.

Despite the demerger referendums held in 2004, the controversy continues, with politicians focusing on the cost of demerging. Several studies show that the recreated municipalities will incur substantial financial costs, thus forcing them to increase taxes (which is a startling prospect in the generally wealthier demerging English-speaking municipalities). Proponents of the demergers contest these surveys, and point to reports from other merged municipalities across the country that show that contrary to their primary raison d'être, the fiscal and societal costs of mega-municipalities far exceed any imagined benefit.

Origin of the name

Montreal was named for the Island of Montreal, which in turn was named for Mount Royal.

It is not certain how the name changed from Mont Royal to Mont Réal. However, "oi" and "oy" were pronounced either "oè" or "è" in Received Pronunciation, with a tendency to shift towards "oé" and "é" at end of syllables. In this accent (and many traditional accents), "réal" and "royal" are homophones. Since then, Business French's pronunciation took over in France as the main pronunciation and influenced the leading Quebec accents, such that nowadays "royal" and "réal" sound different. (based on [cite web
title=D’où vient l’accent des Québécois ? Et celui des Parisiens ?
publisher=Les presses de l'université Laval
] )

Also, in 1556, Italian geographer G.B. Ramusio translated Mont Royal to Monte Reale in a map. In 1575, François de Belleforest became the first to write Montreal, writing:

:"… au milieu de la compaigne est le village, ou Cité royale iointe à vne montaigne cultivée, laquelle ville les Chrestiens appellerent Montreal…"

:"In the middle of the field is the village or royal colony near a cultivated mountain. Christians call this town Montreal."

During the early 18th century, the name of the island came to be used as the name of the town. Two 1744 maps by Nicolas Bellin name the island Isle de Montreal and the town, Ville-Marie; but a 1726 map refers to the town as "la ville de Montréal." The name Ville-Marie soon fell into disuse to refer to the town, though today it is used to refer to the Montreal borough that includes downtown.

In the modern Iroquois language, Montreal is called Tiohtià:ke. Other native languages, such as Algonquin, refer to it as Moniang. [http://geonames.nrcan.gc.ca/education/montreal_e.php]

ee also

* Boroughs of Montreal
* Districts of Montreal
* Toronto-Montreal rivalry
* History of Quebec



In English

* Pauline Desjardins, Geneviève Duguay (1992). "Pointe-à-Callière--from Ville-Marie to Montreal", Montreal: Les éditions du Septentrion, 134 pages ISBN 2921114747 ( [http://books.google.ca/books?id=FpEjohmao2AC online excerpt] )
* Patricia Simpson (1997). "Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal, 1640-1665", McGill-Queen's University Press, 247 pages ISBN 0773516417 ( [http://books.google.ca/books?id=MP2yafGDmGIC online excerpt] )
* Eric McLean, R. D. Wilson (1993). "The Living Past of Montreal", McGill-Queen's Press, 60 pages ISBN 077350981X ( [http://books.google.ca/books?id=q-kmCdDegUoC online excerpt] )
* Louise Dechêne (1992). "Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth-Century Montreal", McGill-Queen's Press, 428 pages ISBN 0773509518 ( [http://books.google.ca/books?id=BL9X4N4DPBAC online excerpt] )
* Jean-Claude Marsan (1990). "Montreal in Evolution. Historical Analysis of the Development of Montreal's Architecture and Urban Environment", McGill-Queen's Press, 456 pages ISBN 0773507981 ( [http://books.google.ca/books?id=fVEeYOKjvfcC online excerpt] )
* John Irwin Cooper (1969). "Montreal, a Brief History", McGill-Queen's University Press, 217 pages
* François Dollier de Casson (1928). "A History of Montreal 1640-1672", New York: Dutton & Co., 384 pages

In French

* Deslandres, Dominique et al., ed. (2007). "Les Sulpiciens de Montréal : Une histoire de pourvoir et de discrétion 1657-2007", Éditions Fides, 670 pages ISBN 2762127270
* Lauzon, Gilles and Forget, Madeleine, ed. (2004). "L’histoire du Vieux- Montréal à travers son patrimoine", Les Publications du Québec, 292 pages ISBN 255119654X
* Linteau, Paul-André (2000). "Histoire de Montréal depuis la Confédération. Deuxième édition augmentée", Éditions du Boréal, 622 pages ISBN 2890524418
* Ville de Montréal (1995). "Les rues de Montréal : Répertoire historique", Éditions du Méridien, 547 pages
* Darsigny, Maryse et al., ed. (1994). "Ces femmes qui ont bâti Montréal", Éditions du Remue-Ménage, 627 pages ISBN 2890911306
* Marsolais, Claude-V. et al, (1993). "Histoire des maires de Montréal", VLB Éditeur, Montréal, 323 pages ISBN 2890055477
* Burgess, Johanne et al., ed. (1992) "Clés pour l’histoire de Montréal", Éditions du Boréal, 247 pages ISBN 2890524868
* Benoît, Michèle and Gratton, Roger (1991). "Pignon sur rue : Les quartiers de Montréal", Guérin 393 pages ISBN 2760124940
* Landry, Yves, ed. (1992). "Pour le Christ et le Roi : La vie aux temps des premiers montréalais", Libre Expression, 320 pages ISBN 2891115236
* Linteau, Paul-André (1992). "Brève histoire de Montréal", Éditions du Boréal 165 pages ISBN 2890524698

External links

* [http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=2759,3090868&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL Historic FAQ - Centre d'Histoire de Montréal] .
* [http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/archives/500ans/portail_archives_en/accueil.html Exhibition: Montreal, 500 years of History in Archives]
* [http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/url/page/portail_montrealistes_en/accueil Montréalistes, Montreal Archives Portal]
* [http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=4359,6280786&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL Web sites on the History of Montreal]
* [http://www.geocities.com/ericsquire/montreal.htm Montreal History Links]

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