Demographics of Montreal

Demographics of Montreal

The Demographics of Montreal concern population growth and structure for Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The information is analyzed by Statistics Canada and compiled every five years, with the most recent census having taken place in 2011. The most recent census information available to the public is from 2006.


Population history

Population of Montreal, and Metropolitan Area by year
Year City Island Metropolitan
1871 107,225 174,090[1]
1881 140,747 223,512[1]
1891 216,650 308,169[1]
1901 267,730 393,665[1]
1911 467,986 536,191[2] 594,812[1]
1921 618,506 724,205[2] 774,330[1]
1931 818,577[1] 1,003,868[3] 1,064,448[1]
1941 903,077[1] 1,116,800[3] 1,192,235[1]
1951 1,036,542[1] 1,320,232[3] 1,539,308[1]
1961 1,257,537[1] 1,747,696[4] 2,215,627[1]
1971 1,214,352[1] 1,959,180[4] 2,743,208[1]
1981 1,018,609[1] 1,760,122[4] 2,862,286[1]
1991 1,017,666[1] 1,775,871[4] 3,127,242[1]
2001 1,039,534 1,812,723 3,426,350[1]
2006 1,620,693 1,854,442 3,635,571[1]

According to Statistics Canada, at the time of the 2006 Canadian census the city of Montreal proper had 1,620,693 inhabitants.[5] A total of 3,635,571 lived in the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) at the same 2006 census, up from 3,451,027 at the 2001 census (within 2006 CMA boundaries), which means a population growth of +1.05% per year between 2001 and 2006.[6] Montreal has been growing more slowly than many other Canadian cities.

In the 2006 census, children under 14 years of age (621,695) constituted 17.1%, while inhabitants over 65 years of age (495,685) numbered 13.6% of the total population.[5]

Future projections

According to a recently published report by the city of Montreal, the island is expected to number 1,991,200 by 2012, with 3.9 million in the Greater Montreal Area, an increase of 15.8% over 2001. However, in 2009, the Greater Montreal Area is estimated to number 3.86 million people, suggesting that the area surpass the four million threshold by 2012.[7] According to StatsCan, by 2030, the Greater Montreal Area is expected to number 5,275,000 with 1,722,000 being visible minorities.[8]

Visible minorities

Pie chart showing Montreal's visible minority composition (data from Canada Census 2006).

Some 26% of the population of Montreal and 16.5% that of Greater Montreal, are members of a visible minority (non-white) group.[9] Blacks contribute to the largest minority group, which is the second largest community of Blacks in Canada, after Toronto. Other groups, such as Arabs, Latin Americans, South Asians, and Chinese are also large in number.[10]"[11] [9] Visible minorities are defined by the Canadian Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginals, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour."[12]

Ethnicities in Montreal (2006)[citation needed]
Ethnicity City of Montreal Montreal Island Montreal CMA
White 75% 74% 83.5%
Visible Minority 26% 25% 16.5%
Black 7.7% 7.1% 4.7%
Arab 4.3% 4.1% 2.8%
Latin Americans 3.4% 3.1% 2.1%
South Asian 3.2% 3.3% 2%
Chinese 3% 3% 2%
Southeast Asian 1.9% 1.8% 1.3%
Filipino 1.1% 1.1% 0.7%
West Asian 0.5% 0.6% 0.4%
Multiple visible minorities 0.4% 0.4% 0.3%
Korean 0.2% 0.2% 0.1%
Not included elsewhere 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
Japanese 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%

Ethnic origin

Ethnic Origin in Montreal CMA (2006)
Includes Multiple Responses [13]
Ethnic origin Population
Canadian 1,670,655
French 936,990
Italian 260,345
Irish 216,410
English 148,095
Scottish 119,365
Jewish 105,765
Arab 98,885
Haitian 85,785
Chinese 82,665
German 78,315
Latin American 75,400
North American Indian 74,565
Québécois 72,445
South Asian 70,615
Greek 61,770
Spanish 56,770
Lebanese 53,455
Polish 51,920
Berber 50,370
Portuguese 46,535
Southeast Asian 44,965
Romanian 36,275
Russian 35,800
Moroccan 33,270
Vietnamese 30,505
Ukrainian 26,150
Belgian 25,800
Filipino 23,510
Egyptian 16,550


Montreal is the cultural centre of Québec, French-speaking Canada and French-speaking North America as a whole, and an important city in the Francophonie. The majority of the population is francophone. Montreal is the largest French-speaking city in North America, and second in the world after Paris when counting the number of native-language Francophones (third after Paris and Kinshasa when counting second-language speakers). The city is a hub for French language television productions, radio, theatre, circuses, performing arts, film, multimedia and print publishing.

Montreal plays a prominent role in the development of French-Canadian and Québécois culture. Its contribution to culture is therefore more of a society-building endeavour rather than limited to civic influence. The best talents from French Canada and even the French-speaking areas of the United States converge in Montreal and often perceive the city as their cultural capital. Montreal is also the most important stop in the Americas for Francophone artists from Europe, Africa and Asia.

The cultural divide between Canada's Francophone and Anglophone culture is strong and was famously referred to as the "Two Solitudes" by Canadian writer Hugh MacLennan. Reflecting their deep-seated colonial roots, the Solitudes were historically strongly entrenched in Montreal, splitting the city geographically at Saint Laurent Boulevard. This split however has become less and less apparent in the past decades.[citation needed]


Montreal is also the cultural capital for English Quebec. The Montreal Gazette newspaper, McGill University, and the Centaur Theatre are traditional hubs of Anglo culture. Notable English-speaking Montrealers such as Oliver Jones, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Peterson, William Shatner, Nick Auf der Maur, Melissa Auf der Maur and Mordecai Richler have been influential. Anglophones from the Eastern Townships, Ottawa Valley and Northern Quebec enjoy radio and television that is produced in English in Montreal.

Some 30 years after the adoption of the Charter of the French Language, French is the mandated lingua-franca of Montreal's various cultural communities. There are effectively two distinct kinds of English spoken in Montréal; the standard English, with its local idioms and eccentricities, passed down through Anglophone community and its institutions. Then there is 'frenglish' or 'franglais' - a highly malleable combination of both languages into cogent sentences, thoughts and expressions, well-seasoned with local slang borrowed (and often used inter-changeably) from both principle languages. In other words, if French is Montréal's official language by birthright, then English is the unofficial language common to the working class. The rate of bilingualism among Montréal Anglophones is estimated to be in excess of 93% with a rapidly growing number among them able to speak three or more languages. It is now common to hear the children of Vietnamese, Italian, Haitian and Arab immigrants speaking French with a distinct Québécois accent, as well as English and their own mother tongues.

While socio-cultural differences and a demonstrable general income disparity between Anglophones and Francophones have led to violence in the past, contemporary Montréal is home to a diverse collection of cultures and peoples who live together quite amicably. Montréal, like many American and Canadian cities, has experienced racial and cultural conflicts during the same specific periods of time as other cities such as the increased racial and linguistic tensions towards the late-1980s and early-1990s, concurrent with similar periods of racial violence in New York City or Los Angeles, or in the late-1960s and early-1970s, at the height of the Civil Rights Era, when Montréal was beset with strikes, armed confrontations with revolutionaries, occupations etc.


Montreal's Italian community is one of the largest in Canada, second only to Toronto. With 250,000 Montrealers with Italian ancestry, Montreal has many Italian districts, such as Little Italy, Saint-Leonard (Citta Italiana), R.D.P., and LaSalle. Italian is the 3rd most spoken language in Montreal and in the province of Quebec. There is such a large number of Italian Canadians in Montreal that when Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the number of Italian Montrealers taking to the streets to celebrate en masse resulted in the closure of many major streets, such as Saint Lawrence Boulevard.


Montreal's Haitian community of 100,000 people is the largest in Canada. Large percentages of Haitians live in Montréal-Nord, Saint-Michel and R.D.P. Today, Haitian Creole is the sixth most spoken language in Montreal and the seventh most spoken language in the province of Québec.[citation needed]


According to CH (Montreal's multicultural channel) there are now 100,000 Arabs in Montreal. Arabic is the fourth language in importance, with many of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Egyptian origin having a special French connection. The Arab district is St. Laurent, they are well appreciated for their Middle Eastern cuisine and art, and in the view of most they enrich the whole city with their presence. The Arab presence is so large that it is clearly fragmented into multiple "subcultures:" an anglophone with no knowledge of Arab history or culture can distinguish some distinct "Arab" cuisines in restaurants observed during a 30-minute walk along Saint Catherine's street.


Greek is the eighth language in importance. Nevertheless, the Greek community remains vibrant: several neighborhoods contain a number of Greek-owned businesses and local festivals and churches add the to the multicultural character of the city. The neighbouring city of Laval also has a sizable Greek community, predominantly residing in the borough of Chomedey.


Montreal has Canada's third largest ethnic Chinese population at 72,000 members.[14] The South Shore suburb of Brossard in particular has a high ethnic Chinese population, at 12% of its population.[15] Montreal also has a small Chinatown sandwiched in between Old Montreal, the Quartier international and downtown.

Latin Americans

Montreal is host to the second largest Latin American community in Canada at 75,400 (with Toronto being number one with 99,290). The majority of Latin American Canadians are recent immigrants arriving in the late 20th century who came from El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Guatemala with relatively smaller communities from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.[16] Spanish is currently the fifth most spoken language in Montreal.


Especially from Algeria and Morocco, this immigration is recent and almost 50,000 Berbers live in Montreal.


Montreal's Jewish community is one of the oldest and most populous in the country, formerly first but now second to Toronto and numbering about 100,000 according to the 2001 census. The community is quite diverse, and is composed of many different Jewish ethnic divisions that arrived in Canada at different periods of time and under differing circumstances. Predominant in number and cultural influence throughout much of the twentieth century were the European Jews (Ashkenazim) who arrived mostly prior to and following World War II; they settled largely along The Main and in Mile End, a life vividly chronicled by Mordecai Richler. There are also substantial French-speaking groups called Mizrahim, originating from former French colonies in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, there were a few Spanish Jews (Sephardim) and again Ashkenazim who had previously settled in Britain and from there moved to Canada as far back as the 18th century. More recent arrivals include significant numbers of Russian, Argentinian, and French Jews as well as some individual Indian Jews, Ethiopian Jews and others. Close to 25% of Montreal's Jewish population have French as their mother tongue. Yiddish is still a living part of the Montreal language mix, amongst for example the substantial Hassidic community.

Demographically smaller as a result of the exodus that came with the threat of the Quebec sovereignty movement, Montreal's Jewish community has nevertheless been a leading contributor to the city's cultural landscape and is renowned for its level of charitable giving and its plethora of social service community institutions. Among these are the world renowned Jewish Public Library of Montreal, Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre and Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.

Jewish culinary contributions have also been a source of pride for Montrealers; two contributions are its smoked meat sandwiches and its distinctive style of bagels. There are many private Jewish schools in Montreal, receiving partial funding of the secular courses in their curriculum from the Québec government (like most denominational schools in Québec). Approximately 7,000 children attend Jewish day schools, over 50% of the total Jewish school age population, an extremely high percentage for North American cities.

The Jewish left and secular Jewish culture have flourished in Montreal, producing global intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Leonard Cohen, Joshua Dolgin and Gerald Cohen.[citation needed]


Census tracts in Montreal identified by mother tongue language.

In terms of mother language (first language learned), the 2006 census reported that in the Greater Montreal Area, 66.5% spoke French as a first language, followed by English at 13.2%, while 0.8% spoke both as a first language.[17] The remaining 22.5% of Montreal-area residents are allophones, speaking languages including Italian (3.5%), Arabic (3.1%), Spanish (2.6%), Creole (1.3%), Chinese (1.2%), Greek (1.2%), Portuguese (0.8%), Romanian (0.7%), Vietnamese (0.7%), and Russian (0.5%).[17] In terms of additional languages spoken, a unique feature of Montreal among Canadian cities, noted by Statistics Canada, is the working knowledge of both French and English possessed by most of its residents.

Language most spoken at home
in the Montreal metropolitan area (CMA)
1996[18] 2001[19] 2006[20]
French 71.2% 72.1% 70.5%
English 19.4% 18.5% 18.5%
Other language 13.4% 13.1% 14.6%
Note that percentages add up to more than 100% because
some people speak two or more languages at home.
Mother tongue languages (2006)[17]
Includes Multiple Responses
Language Greater Montreal Quebec Canada
French 66.5% 80.1% 22.3%
English 13.2% 8.6% 58.4%
Italian 3.5% 1.8% 1.5%
Arabic 3.1% 1.6% 0.9%
Spanish 2.6% 1.5% 1.2%
Creole 1.3% 0.7% 0.2%
Chinese 1.2% 0.6% 1.5%
Greek 1.2% 0.6% 0.4%
Portuguese 0.8% 0.5% 0.7%
Romanian 0.7% 0.4% 0.3%
Vietnamese 0.7% 0.4% 0.5%
Russian 0.5% 0.3% 0.4%
Armenian 0.4% 0.2% 0.1%
Polish 0.4% 0.2% 0.7%


The Greater Montreal Area is predominantly Roman Catholic; however, weekly attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada.[21] Historically Montreal has been a centre of Catholicism in North America with its numerous seminaries and churches, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, and Saint Joseph's Oratory. Some 84.6% of the total population is Christian,[22] largely Roman Catholic (74.5%), primarily due to descendants of original French settlers, and others of Italian and Irish origins. Protestants which include Anglican, United Church, Lutheran, owing to British and German immigration, and other denominations number 7.0%, with a further 3.0% consisting mostly of Orthodox Christians, fuelled by a large Greek population. There is also a number of Russian Orthodox parishes. Islam is the largest non-Christian religious group, with 100,185 members,[22] the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada. The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 92,970.[22] In cities such as Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority,[23][24] or a substantial part of the population. As recently as 1971 the Jewish community in Greater Montreal was as high as 109,480.[4] Political and economic uncertainties led many to leave Montreal and the province of Quebec.[25]

The religious breakdown of the population of Montreal is:

  • Christian: 84.6%
  • No religion: 7.6%
  • Muslim: 3.0%
  • Jewish: 2.6%
  • Buddhist: 1.1%
  • Hindu: 0.7%

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Montréal En Bref". City of Montreal. Archived from the original on 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2007-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Historical Atlas of Canada". Population Distribution, 1851-1961. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  3. ^ a b c "Vol. 1 - Table 2" (XLS). 1951 Canadian Census. University of Toronto. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Statistical Tables — Religion". Statistics Canada Census. Gouvernement du Québec. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data". Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  6. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data". Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Appendix: Table A1 Population by visible minority group and place of residence, scenario C (high growth), Canada, 2006". 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  9. ^ a b "Canada's Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: Canada's major census metropolitan areas". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  10. ^ Statistics Canada (2002). "Selected Ethnic Origins, for Census Subdivisions". Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  11. ^ Visible Minority Population and Population Group Reference Guide, 2006 Census
  12. ^ "Visible Minority Population and Population Group Reference Guide, 2006 Census". 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  13. ^ "Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada, Highlight Tables, 2006 Census: Montreal (CMA)". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  14. ^ "Visible minority groups, 2006 counts, for Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations - 20% sample data". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. April 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  15. ^ 2006 Canadian Census: Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlights Tables: Brossard, Quebec
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c "Montreal (CMA) - Detailed Mother Tongue". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. April 1, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  18. ^ (French) Institut de la statistique du Québec. "Tableau 2 - Langue maternelle et langues parlées à la maison, connaissance des langues officielles, 1996, 1991 et 1986 - Régions métropolitaines de recensement" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  19. ^ "Language Spoken Most Often at Home (8), Language Spoken at Home on a Regular Basis (9), Sex (3) and Age Groups (15) for Population, for Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas 1 and Census Agglomerations, 2001 Census - 20% Sample Data". Statistics Canada, 2001 Census of Population. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  20. ^ "Population by language spoken most often at home and age groups, 2006 counts, for Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations – 20% sample data". Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  21. ^ CBC Article - Church attendance declining in Canada
  22. ^ a b c "2001 Community Highlights for Montréal". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  23. ^ "2001 Community Highlights for Hampstead". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  24. ^ "2001 Community Highlights for Côte-Saint-Luc". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  25. ^ "The Jewish Communities of Canada". Am Yisrael. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 

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