30 things you might not know about Montréal

Daniel Baylis

Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.

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Montréal has a reputation for being a charming French-Canadian city with European roots and delicious food. But we’re so much more than that. Here are just a few fun facts you might not have known about Montréal.

1. In the Mohawk language, the island of Montréal is called Tiohtià:ke tsi ionhwéntsare. This name refers to the Lachine Rapids to the island's southwest or Ka-wé-no-te. It means "a place where nations and rivers unite and divide.”

 

2. What other cities call “pastrami,” Montréal calls “smoked meat.” Sandwiches can be found across the city, such as Schwartz’s and The Main Deli Steakhouse.

 

3. Montréal is a UNESCO City of Design. Check out the beautiful architecture around the city, especially in Old Montréal and the Old Port.

 

4. While working at Montréal’s McGill University as a system administrator in 1989, Alan Emtage created the first Internet search engine. It was called Archie.

 

5. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is Canada’s largest church. Built between 1904 and 1967, this National Historic Site is a pilgrimage site for both spiritual and architectural reasons.

 

6. In the summer of 1976, Montréal hosted the first Olympics – and the only summer Olympics – ever held in Canada. Today, visitors can explore various Olympic venues.

 

7. Mount Royal Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same person who designed New York City's Central Park.

 

8. In 1967, Montreal hosted the World’s Fair or as it’s popularly known, Expo 67. One of the best mementos from the event is Habitat 67 — an iconic housing complex designed by Moshe Safdie.
 

9. The Port of Montréal is one of the largest inland ports in the world handling 26 million tonnes of cargo annually.

 

10. Montréal makes many movies. Films such as Blades of Glory, Life of Pi, Batman & Robin, The Red Violin, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and X-Men were all shot in Montréal!

 

11. The song “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was recorded at Montréal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel 1969 during a weeklong bed-in.

 

12. Montréal is home to the Canadiens ice hockey team, the franchise with the most Stanley Cup wins, and the National Hockey League (NHL) was founded here in 1917.

 

13. During Prohibition, Montréal was a titillating destination for Americans who came across the border to imbibe in booze and try their luck with gambling.

 

14. The first executioner in Montréal was gay.

 

15. Montréal is home to more than 60 governmental and non-governmental IOs, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that monitors the development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.

 

16. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is the largest art museum in Canada by gallery space.

 

17. Montréal’s annual fall restaurant week is called MTLàTABLE.

 

18. The Montréal bagel has been to outer space! Astronaut Gregory Chamitoff (a Montréal native) brought three bags with him to the International Space Station.

 

19. There are an estimated 600 churches on the island of Montréal, with 450 of them dating back to the 1800s or earlier. Mark Twain noted, "This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window.”

 

20. Canada’s first LGBTQ film festival, image+nation, was founded in Montréal.

 

21. Montréal has a bylaw stipulating that no skyscraper can be taller than the top of the Mont Royal.

 

22. In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montréal obtained a patent for a method of producing peanut butter from roasted peanuts using heated surfaces. He is considered one of the inventors of peanut butter.

 

23. The Montréal Botanical Garden is home to 22,000 plant species and it is considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens in the world due to the extent of its collections and facilities.

 

24. Montréal has more bike paths than any other North American city. At the latest count there were over 800 km of paths, and even more are being built.

 

25. For several years in a row, Montréal has ranked as North America’s best student city (by the QS World University Rankings).

 

26. Montréal is home to more than 50 National Historic Sites of Canada, more than any other city.

 

27. Montréal’s famed Underground City is a pedestrian network under the city that links metro stations to shopping plazas for over 33 kilometres (about 20.5 miles).
 

28. Parc Jean-Drapeau was partially formed by using the fill excavated during the construction of the Montréal Metro (subway) in the early 1960s.

 

29. When kids across Canada write letters to Santa Claus, they include the postal code “H0H 0H0” because it reads “ho ho ho.” An “H” at the beginning of a Canadian postal code indicates the area of Montréal. So, technically speaking, all of Santa’s mail is addressed to Montréal.

 

30. Montréal is an island! In fact, Montréal is the largest of over 200 islands that make up the Hochelaga Archipelago.

Daniel Baylis

Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.

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