Montreal is the biggest city in the province of Quebec and is the second biggest city in Canada. The metropolitan area, including outlying suburbs, covers sixteen hundred square miles and is home to over three and a half million people. The human history of the area on which the city is located can be traced back over eight thousand years. It was originally populated by various Native American tribes which include the Huron, Algonquin and Iroquois tribes.

The first European to explore the was Jacques Cartier in 1534. He entered the region at the village of Hochelega on the island of Montreal, a location he found while searching for a passage to Asia. The first permanent European settler to the region wouldn’t show up until the seventeenth century when Samuel de Champlain tried to establish a fur trading post in the region. However, his attempts were thwarted by the local Iroquois tribes who vigorously defended their lands. It wouldn’t be until 1642 that a mission name Ville Marie would be erected in the area as a way to set up a French colonial colony.

Ville Marie would become the area’s center for not only the fur trade, but also for French expansion into the region. This continued up until the mid eighteenth century when the British captured the post. The British Empire would then expand the port into a town and a new era of fur trading started with the creation of the North West Company. During this time the town would experience a rapid influx of British immigrants and in 1832 the town was incorporated into the city of Montreal. In the mid nineteenth century the Lachine Canal was opened and the city began a period of rapid growth. This growth continued to rise until the city became the cultural center of British North America. The city continued to enjoy a period of prosperity until the Great Depression would bring unemployment and poverty to the city. However, this didn’t last long and the city soon rebounded in the 1930s.

Sunny Day in Montreal
Sunny Day in Montreal

Today, Montreal’s economy is the largest economy in the province of Quebec and the second largest in all of Canada. Montreal is a center of industry, technology, finance and commerce in Canada. Major industries in the city include software engineering, aerospace, electronic goods, telecommunications and textiles. The city is home to one of the largest inland ports in the world, the Port of Montreal. This port handles over twenty-six million tons of cargo each year. Another important industry in Montreal is the film industry.

The city hosts the headquarters of Alliance Films and the offices of Telefilm Canada. Because of the cities architectural diversity, Montreal is a popular location for feature films. Other things that contribute to the economy of the city include the many film and music festivals and its largest cultural institution Cirque du Soleil.

The city is also home to many large companies who have their headquarters located there. These include companies such as:

  • Air Cananda
  • Rio Tinto Alcan
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Laurentian Bank of Canada
  • Transat A.T
  • Canadian National Railway

A growing part of Montreal’s economy is tourism. Every year over fourteen million people visit Montreal from all over the world. Some of the more popular destinations in the city include Crescent Street, Saint-Laurent Boulevard and the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood. These streets are well known for their nightclubs, bars and restaurants. One of the most popular attractions in Montreal is Old Montreal or Vieux Montreal. Old Montreal is located in the cities downtown area and has a very distinct European flavor to it. It contains many cafes, has cobblestone streets and has some fine examples of seventeenth century architecture.

Another prominent attraction in Montreal is the Pointe-a-Calliere. The Pointe-a-Calliere is a museum of archaelogy and history founded in 1992. The museum is actually a complex of museums which are composed of three archaelogical sites (Pointe-a-Callière, Place Royale and Fort Ville-Marie), Montreal’s first Catholic cemetery, Eperon building, Place Royale Crypt and Youville Pumping Station. This museum contains over a million archaeological and welcomes over three hundred and fifty thousand people a year.

The Chateau Ramezay is yet another museum located in Montreal. This museum was built in 1705 by Montreal governor Claude de Ramezay. In 1775, it served as the Canadian headquarters for the Continental Army, when the Continental Army seized the city. It now serves as a museum that has over thirty thousand historical objects which include manuscripts, numismatic items, paintings, prints, furniture and ethnological items.

Visitors should also check out the Montreal Planetarium. This planetarium is the largest in Canada with a seating capacity of over three hundred and sixty-six seats. It was built in 1966 in anticipation of the1967 International and Universal Exposition and is located on Saint Jacques Street. Since its opening the Montreal Planetarium has produced over two hundred and fifty shows, fifty-eight thousand presentations and has been visited by over six million people.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal, known in English as Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal is a basilica that was erected in 1829. It designed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture and contains many beautiful features. Its interior ceiling has a deep blue hue and is decorated with gold stars. The sanctuary is filled with wooden carvings and religious statues. The stained glass windows depict scenes of Montreal history and the church has a pipe organ that features four keyboards and over seven thousand pipes.

Montreal is a city that has a wide range of attractions for visitors to the city. The city is alive with restaurants, hotels and other attractions. Some of the more popular restaurants include Le Jardin Nelson, Les 3 Brasseurs, Club Chasse et Peche, Chez l’Épicier and Canadian Maple Delights. Hotels in the city include Auberge du Vieux-Port, Hotel Place d’Armes and Hotel St. Paul. Other attractions in the city include Montreal Biodome, Montreal Botanical Gardens and The Stewart Museum.

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