Montreal, Canada, is in the southwest of the province of Quebec. Incorporated as a city in 1832, Montreal is Canada’s second largest city and is home to nearly half of the province of Quebec’s population.
The Hochelaga Archipelago, also known as the Montreal Islands, sits at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. There are over two hundred islands, the largest being the Island of Montreal. The port of Montreal lies at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic.
Montreal is classified as a warm-summer humid continental climate. Temperatures in winter months are cold, averaging–3°C. With an annual snowfall of 214 centimeters, Montréal receives more snow than Moscow. Temperatures rise to 11°C in April or October. Summers can be hot. Average summer temperatures are 26°C.
Data and Facts
- Originally founded in 1642 as Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.
- Montreal is a UNESCO city of design. No building in Montreal can be taller than the cross on the Mount Royal Mountain.
- The dominant religion in Quebec is Christianity, which is adhered to by roughly 90.2% of the population.
- French is the city's official language, spoken by 49.8% of the population, while English is spoken by 22.8%. 18.3% of the population speak other languages.
- Currency: Canadian dollar
- In 2016, Montreal had a GDP of about 170 billion Canadian dollars.
The City of Montreal is the largest of the 29 municipalities in the Montreal Urban Community. The Montreal Urban Community (MUC), created in 1970, handles police, fire protection, water supply, roads, public transportation, and regional planning for towns and cities on the island of Montreal. The MUC is governed by a council representing mayors and councilors from each of its 29 municipalitie.
The city of Montreal has its own 57-member city council and a directly elected mayor. The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 65 members from all boroughs and has jurisdiction over many matters, including public security, agreements with other governments, subsidy programs, the environment and urban planning.
Reporting directly to the council, the executive committee exercises decision-making powers similar to those of the cabinet in a parliamentary system and is responsible for preparing various documents including budgets and by-laws.
Montreal is also the seat of the judicial district of Montreal, which includes the city and the other communities on the island.
Montreal has the second-largest economy of Canadian cities based on GDP and the largest in Quebec.
After having an economy based on the fur trade for 150 years, Montreal evolved into a diversified commercial metropolis, focusing on both international trade and the distribution of manufactured goods. Industry played a growing role from the mid-19th century, and in the 20th century the services sector expanded with the rise of financial institutions, universities and engineering firms.
Today the city is an important centre of commerce, finance, industry, technology and culture. Industries include aerospace, electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, printed goods, software engineering, telecommunications, textile, tobacco, petrochemicals, and transportation.
The Port of Montreal is one of the largest inland ports in the world handling 26 million tonnes of cargo annually. it remains a transshipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods
The service sector is also strong and includes civil, mechanical and process engineering, and finance. The finance sector employs approximately 100,000 people in the Greater Montreal Area. As of March 2018, the city was ranked in the 12th position in the Global Financial Centres Index.
Montreal is also a leading research and development centre, with its four universities and numerous research institutes and laboratories in areas such as telecommunications, pulp and paper, aerospace, software and pharmaceuticals.
Despite Toronto’s dominant position, Montreal hosts the headquarters of a number of Canada’s major corporations and remains a significant financial centre.
The city is home to the Montreal Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in Canada. The corporate headquarters of the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada were moved to Toronto but their legal corporate offices remain in Montreal. The city is also home to head offices of two smaller banks, National Bank of Canada and Laurentian Bank of Canada. Many foreign subsidiaries operating in the financial sector also have offices in Montreal, including HSBC, Aon, Société Générale, BNP Paribas and AXA.
Montreal is also a global hub for artificial intelligence research with many companies involved in this sector, such as Facebook AI Research (FAIR), Microsoft Research, Google Brain, DeepMind, Samsung Research and Thales Group.
The video game industry has been booming in Montreal since 1997, coinciding with the opening of Ubisoft Montreal. Recently, the city has attracted world leading game developers and publishers studios such as EA, Eidos Interactive, BioWare, Artificial Mind and Warner Bros.
The Montreal Oil Refining Centre is the largest refining centre in Canada, with companies like Petro-Canada, Ultramar, Gulf Oil, Cepsa, Nova Chemicals, and more.
Several other companies are headquartered in the Greater Montreal Area such as Rio Tinto Alcan, Canadian National Railway, Air Canada, Cirque du Soleil, Jean Coutu Group, Uniprix, Power Corporation, or Standard Life.
Like many major cities, Montreal has a problem with vehicular traffic congestion.
Public local transport is served by a network of buses, subways, and commuter trains that extend across and off the island. The subway and bus system are operated by the Société de transport de Montréal. The bus network consists of 203 daytime and 23 nighttime routes. The Metro was inaugurated in 1966 and has 68 stations on four lines.
Montreal has two international airports, one for passengers only, the other for cargo:
- Montréal–Trudeau International Airport, formerly known as Montréal–Dorval International Airport is the primary international airport serving Montreal. Trudeau is the busiest airport in the province of Quebec and the third-busiest airport in Canada by both passenger traffic and aircraft movements, with 20.3 million passengers and 236,908 movements in 2019.
- International Aerocity of Mirabel, known as simply Mirabel, is a cargo and former international passenger airport. The main role of the airport today is cargo flights, but it is also home to MEDEVAC and general aviation flights.
Montreal is emerging as one of Canada’s leading city for tech and innovation. But the city’s technological impact isn’t limited to the nation’s borders; Montreal is one of the most high-tech cities in the entire world.
There is a lot of activity going on right now in Montreal’s startup scene. The city has become a major hub for artificial intelligence, video game development, biotechnology, and travel startups.
There is many startup accelerators offering assistance and funding to entrepreneurs, for example:
- Creative Destruction Lab, a seed-stage program for scalable, science-based companies.
- TandemLaunch, a seed fund that helps turn research from local universities into exceptional technology companies.
- MTL Lab, helps startups to validate their business model and get their first customers in the tourism, culture, and entertainment sector.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic about 2019 was that no less than three Quebec companies raised $200 million each or more.
Some of the biggest Montreal tech startups of 2019 were Sonder, in direct competition with Airbnb, Coveo and Element AI, an artificial intelligence. All raise at least $200 million each but they are not the only startups in the scene. Breathe Life, MIMS, Payment Trails , ArtStation or MobeeWave are some other examples of the most popular startups in the city.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
The Province of Quebec provides universal health insurance for all its citizens. Montreal is home to 20 hospitals, including the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montréal General Hospital, Saint-Luc, Sacré-Coeur, Hôtel-Dieu, Jewish General, Montréal General, and others. Many hospitals are affiliated with either the McGill or University of Montréal Medical faculties.
Montreal has the highest concentration of post-secondary students of all major cities in North America. Reflecting its bilingual character, Montréal has both English and French schools and universities.
Every year, Montreal hosts more than 18,000 foreign students from more than 150 countries and in 2013 it was ranked the number 1 destination for tertiary studies.
There are 11 university level institutions in Montreal, including the 4 world-class universities: McGill University, Concordia University, University of Montreal and UQAM.
Montreal is Canada's second-largest media market, and the centre of francophone Canada's media industry.
There are four English-language television stations: CBC Television, CTV, Global and Citytv. There are also five French-language television stations: Ici Radio-Canada, TVA, V, Télé-Québec, and Canal Savoir.
Montreal has three daily newspapers, the English-language Montreal Gazette and the French-language Le Journal de Montréal, and Le Devoir.
Montreal is a centre of film and television production. The city is also home to many recognized cultural, film and music festivals.
Montreal has a vast network of museums, art galleries and exhibition centres like The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Musée d'art contemporain or The Museum of Canadian History and Montreal Museum of Archeology.
Given that Montreal is mostly French-speaking, most popular local bands and singers sing in French although Montreal's English-speaking music scene also succeeds in getting attention from popular media around the world.
Montreal also has a vibrant summer festival scene. The Montreal Jazz Festival, starting on June 28th is the biggest of its kind in the world and illustrates well this melting of genres.
Montreal is home to several professional sports teams including the Montreal Canadiens – an NHL team, the Montreal Expos – a baseball team, the Montreal Alouettes – a CFL team and Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer. The most popular sport is ice hockey.