We’re heading to Montreal today and wanted to learn a little more about Canada’s second-largest city.
1. Montreal is the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec.
2. Although Montreal is one the world’s five largest French-speaking cities, most residents are bilingual. Many speak a third language.
3. The city of Montreal is built on a 30-mile-long island along the convergence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. A tunnel and 15 bridges link the island to the mainland.
4. The city is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of Montreal that rises to 764 feet above sea level.
5. Mount Royal Park, located on the city’s namesake hill, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also was a co-designer of New York City’s Central Park.
6. The city of Montreal was originally inhabited by the Saint Lawrence Iroquoians, who established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal in the 14th century.
7. French settlers, led by Paul de Chomodey de Maisonnevue, arrived on the island now known as Montreal in 1642. Their intent was to build a fort and establish a mission to convert the native population to Christianity.
8. On May 17, 1642, the settlement of Ville-Marie or “City of Mary,” was founded on the southern shore of Montreal island, with Maisonneuve as its first governor.
9. By 1685, Ville Marie was home to some 600 colonists. The city became a fur-trading center and a gateway for westward expansion by the French.
10. The name Ville Marie appeared in all official documents until 1705, when Montreal appeared for the first time, although people referred to the “Island of Montreal” long before then.
11. During the last part of the 17th century, the beaver was Europe’s most popular fur. As many as 20,000 beaver pelts were shipped from Montreal to France each year, making the city the fur trading capital.
12. During the American Revolution, the United States sent Benjamin Franklin to Montreal to persuade the Canadians to join the American cause against the British. After staying 10 days, Franklin left convinced that it would be easier to buy Canada than to conquer it.
13. The world’s first recorded indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal on March 3rd, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink. Organized by McGill University student James Creighton, the hockey game was played between two nine-member teams using a wooden puck.
14. In 1879, the McGill University Hockey Club became the world’s first organized hockey team.
15. In 1924, a 103 ft.-high illuminated cross was erected on Mount Royal in remembrance of a flood that nearly destroyed the early French colony in 1642. Today the cross is usually lit in white LED lights, but can be changed to other colors, such as purple which is traditionally used upon the death of a Pope.
16. No building in Montreal can be taller than the Mount Royal Cross.
17. The Metro was inaugurated in Montreal in 1966. Today is has 68 stations on four lines. Each station was designed by different architects with individual themes and original artwork.
18. Montreal hosted Expo 67, considered to be the most successful world’s fair in the 20th Century.
19. Habitat 67 — conceived by architect Moshe Safdie and built as a pavilion for Expo 67 — is one of Montreal’s most recognizable buildings. Habitat 67 is comprised of 354 identical prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various combinations up to 12 stories high making up 156 residences.
20. La Ronde — the entertainment complex built for Expo 67 on 988 acres of man-made islands in the St Lawrence – is now Canada’s second largest amusement park, and is owned by Six Flags theme park company.
21. La Ronde features 10 rollercoasters and covers 146 acres on the eastern tip of St. Helen’s Island. Three million people visit the amusement park each year, with many riding The Monster, one of the world’s highest double-tracked roller coasters.
22. Montreal’s Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel gained international recognition when John Lennon and Yoko Ono conducted held their legendary bed-in from May 26 to June 2, 1969, writing the anti-war song “Give Peace a Chance.”
23. Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics, during which Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect “10” and captured the All-Around gold medal. Today, the Olympic Park is a popular tourist attraction with a bio dome that re-creates a variety of climate zones and animal habitats.
24. Assassin’s Creed, a popular action-adventure video game was created in Montreal by Ubisoft.
25. Montreal’s Underground City is a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city connecting 20 miles of shopping malls, museums, universities, hotels, banks, offices and seven metro stations. The underground tunnels help Montreal residents and visitors escape the city’s winter chill and snow, as well as the summer heat.
26. Montreal-style smoked meat is a type of kosher-style deli meat product made by salting and curing beef brisket with spices. The smoked meat is prepared similarly to New York pastrami but with different seasonings. The recipe for Montreal steak seasoning is based on the seasoning mixture for Montreal smoked meat.
27. Poutine is a famous food in Montreal consisting of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.
28. Notre-Dame Basilica, located in the historic district of Old Montreal, is famous for its dramatic Gothic Revival architecture.
29. James O’Donnell, an Irish-American Anglican architect from New York, was commissioned to design the new church building in 1824. O’Donnell, the only person buried in the Basilica’s crypt, converted to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed, likely to be allowed to be buried in the church he designed.
30. Celine Dion’s December 17, 1994 wedding to René Angélil occurred at the Notre-Dame Basilica, as did the memorial service for Angélil on January 22, 2016.
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