9 things you didn’t know about Montréal

Thom Seivewright

Montréal is a city rich in hidden stories, urban secrets and little-known facts. Here are nine things that even some hardcore Montréal lovers might not know.

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1. Montréal is the largest of over 200 islands that make up the Hochelaga Archipelago. Many of the islands are uninhabited (not counting adorable wildlife) and some even make up a “national” park, Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville, which, despite its official name, is a provincial park.

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2. Mount Royal, the mountain that gave the city its name, has three summits: Mount Royal, Outremont and Westmount. Some 280 hectares of greenspace make up the Mount Royal Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who also designed New York’s Central Park.

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3. No building can be taller than Mount Royal. Municipal regulations prohibit buildings taller than the height of the mountain’s summit (232.5 metres above sea level). Score a point for preserving nature in urban environments!

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4. Montréal’s flag showcases five symbols that represent the five founding peoples. The white pine tree and its roots for the Indigenous Peoples, the fleur-de-lis for the French, the rose for the English, the thistle for the Scottish and the shamrock for the Irish.

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5. Montréal is hockey’s capital. The first official hockey game was played in Montréal on March 3, 1875. It took place indoors, at Victoria rink (near where the Centre Sheraton stands today). Just a slap shot away, at the Windsor Hotel, located across Stanley Street (that name is not a coincidence), the National Hockey League (NHL) was founded in 1917. And our local team, the Montréal Canadiens, have won the Stanley Cup more than any other franchise.

6. Montréal is the only Canadian city to have hosted the Summer Olympics. The games were held in 1976 and some star athletes included 14-year-old gymnast Nadia Comaneci and Decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner. For years after the games, Nadia was one of the most common names for baby girls born in Montréal.

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7. Ile Sainte-Hélène is partially man-made and some of the soil came from digging the tunnels during the construction of the metro system in the 1960s. Ile Notre-Dame is entirely artificial. Together, the two islands form Parc Jean-Drapeau and are home to the La Ronde amusement park as well as major festivals such as Osheaga, Heavy Montréal and îleSoniq.

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8. Montréal has more bike paths than any other North American city. At the latest count there were over 800 km of paths winding their way through town, and even more are being built!

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9. Our bagels are different (not to mention the best)! Because of the old tradition of boiling them in honey-infused water and baking them in wood fired ovens, Montréal bagels are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth delicious on the inside – a culinary experience unique to this city.

Thom Seivewright

Thom Seivewright, blogger

Thom enjoys fulfilling Montréal stereotypes such as being obsessed with Leonard Cohen, being perfectly fluent in Frenglish and being addicted to maple syrup. He loves pretending to be a tourist in his own city yet when he travels he loves pretending to not be a tourist at all.

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