Montreal is a city rich in history. Inhabited for over 4000 years, it was first colonized by the Mohawk people. Jacques Cartier then arrived in Montreal in 1535. However, it was only in 1642 that European settlers founded Ville-Marie, which later became Montréal. The city has over the centuries grown by leaps and bounds and with over 4 million inhabitants, it is still one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America.
The rich history of the French and English speaking populations intermingled with more recent migration waves has made Montreal a multicultural destination with many activities for visitors.
The Old Port and Old Montreal are a major tourist draw with their narrow cobble-stone streets, european architecture and tourist attractions. The city grew over the centuries into its diverse streetcar suburbs such as the Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile-End that are now a destination for artists and video game companies. New neighbourhoods mingle with the old and bring to life a vibrant and exciting place to be.
Montreal has hosted both the World Fair (Expo67) and the Summer Olympics (1976). Thanks to its appeal and available facilities, Montreal is a major player on the international convention circuit.
The history of the city is intertwined with the history of its various transportation infrastructure projects.
Montreal was as far west one could travel on the Saint-Lawrence River, with the Lachine rapids blocking western travel. Its port grew rapidly still centuries later still plays a major role in the local economy. Montreal’s metropolitan area is also home of various canals that were constructed primarily during the XIXth century as well as the Saint-Lawrence Seaway built after WWII. Montreal also once boasted a major ship building industry.
Trains also play an instrumental role in the history and geography of Montreal with railway lines radiating from Montreal and linking it to the rest of the continent. As the Canadian railway hub, it has hosted a variety of railways and is still home of the Canadian National Railways, Canada’s passenger rail serviceViaRail, while Canadian Pacific Railways still retains major facilities and offices as well.
The aeronautical industry is very important in Montreal as well. Historically, Montreal was until the 1970’s, Canada’s main international gateway. Montreal’s airport system still supports major cargo, passenger and military functions. Furthermore, Montreal is still Canada’s hub for the airplane manufacturing industry. The world’s third largest airplane manufacturer, Bombardier is based in Montreal and boasts a variety of facilities. Furthermore, many other manufacturers have maintained for decades a major manufacturing presence, including Pratt&Whitney and Lockheed Martin.
Transit vehicle construction has a history that is over 150 years old, and is currently represented by North America’s second largest transit bus manufacturer, NovaBus, a division of Volvo.
Montreal boasts one of the highest ratios of students per capita of any large metropolitan area around the world. With four large universities (2 french and 2 english) as well as various other university institutions make Montreal a world-class research hub.