A striking union of European charm and North American attitude, Montréal seduces visitors with a harmonious pairing of the historic and the new, from exquisite architecture to fine dining.
Because of its position in the St. Lawrence River, the island of Montréal was originally a diplomatic trading area for regional First Nations: the Atikamekw to the north, the Anishinaabe (Algonquin) to the west and the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), part of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, to the south. This strategic location and fertile soil made Montréal desirable, as archaeological evidence makes clear. Today, the First Nation communities most closely associated with Montréal are the Kanien’kehá:ka—who named the island Tiotia:ke—in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory on the South Shore and the Kanehsatà:ke Lands on the North Shore, near Oka.
Once home to the First Nations people, this island gem on the magnificent St. Lawrence River in time saw travellers from far and wide land on its shores before becoming a bustling port city. The French colonists were the first to arrive, followed by the English, the Scottish and the Irish. Later, myriad peoples from around the world settled the lush swaths stretching up to Mount Royal.
Today, 120 distinct ethnic communities are represented in its population of more than 3.6 million, making Montréal a veritable mosaic of cultures and traditions. The world’s second largest francophone city after Paris, it merits the moniker ‘international’ city, a cosmopolitan centre with proud roots in the past that enthusiastically embraces the future. A world leader in such industries as aeronautics, information technology and biotechnology, the city has also made significant innovations in medicine, multimedia, the arts and urban planning. Its avant-garde spirit has not gone unnoticed: in 2006, Montréal was named a UNESCO City of Design.
Day and night, Montréal pulses with activity. Each season, it is host to an array of events, exhibitions and gatherings for the thousands of culture, nature and thrill seekers who come here to enjoy its diverse offerings. While Montréal’s masterful chefs continue to elevate its reputation as a gourmet destination, creative artists and artisans draw admirers in droves to the haute couture ateliers, arts galleries and charming boutiques that line the city streets.
Getting around the city on a day-to-day basis is hassle-free. Its streets, vast parks, underground pedestrian network, and métro system are safe and easy to navigate. The best way to get to know the city is on foot, through any one of its many colourful and vibrant neighbourhoods which overflow with markets, boutiques, restaurants and local cafés—diverse expressions of the inhabitants’ joie de vivre. Montrealers are naturally charming and quite often multilingual. Their spontaneity and ability to welcome visitors have propelled Montréal to its current position of international host city, where some of the world’s most exciting events are held annually. When one considers the urban landscape and its inhabitants, this resulting passion seems only natural.