Montreal is one of the most famous Canadian cities which is not surprising since it is the largest city of the province of Quebec. Certainly, this place is full of tourist attractions and should be one of the destinations of your trip to this country. In case you want to dig for some curious facts about this great city, you will find a lot of interesting information in this article.
The geography of Montreal
Not everyone is aware of the fact Montreal is actually is an island. Indeed, it was built on the island located along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. The length of this island is 30 miles. There are fifteen bridges connecting the island to the mainland as well as a special tunnel.
By the way, the name of the city comes from the name of a hill with three picks located right in the centre of the city. The hill itself is called Mount Royal and it gave the name to the city. The height of the hill is 764 feet above the level of the sea.
The history of Montreal
You have already learnt that the city got its name from the hill of Mount Royal. Actually, Montreal used to be a village known as Hochelaga built at the foot of the hill by the first inhabitants of the area. These inhabitants were the Saint Lawrence Iroquoians. The village was built in the 14th century.
The development of Montreal
When the French settlers arrived to this area in the 1642, it the island was already known as Montreal. The leader of the French settlers was Paul de Chomodey de Maisonnevue and his goal was to spread Christianity around the native population. In such a way, a new settlement was created on the southern shore of the island. The name of the settlement was Ville-Marie which can be translated as “City of Mary”. The first governor of this settlement was Maisonneuve.
The settlement was quite small with only 600 residents in 1685, however, with time, it was developed into a centre for fur-trading and also became a major gateway for the French expansion around the lands of modern Canada. The fur sold at that time was primarily of the beaver. Obviously, the location of Montreal in such a close proximity to rivers has a great influence on the development of the fur-trading industry. At the same time, the beaver fur was the most popular type of fur in Europe, so the residents of Montreal had a great chance for developing a significant position on the international market. With time, the city itself became a capital for fur trade.
Now, you know that the name of Montreal is connected to the name of the Mount Royal hill, yet, as you can imagine, it was not like that all the time. While colonists usually referred to the area as to Island of Montreal, it had been officially called Ville Marie until 1705. This was the year when people switched to the Montreal name for the first time.
Montreal and hockey
Certainly, it is impossible to talk about the history of any Canadian city without delving into the topic of ice hockey. When it comes to this iconic sports, you should know that the first indoor game of ice hockey took place in Montreal 1875. The place where the game was held the Victoria Skating Rink. There were two teams each of which had nine members. The teams were using a wooden puck for playing. James Creighton, the student of McGill University organised the game.
Subsequently, The Hockey Club of the McGill University became the first organised team for ice hockey.
The population of Montreal today
As you can imagine, such strong French roots made this city one of the largest French-speaking areas of Canada. According to the statistics, it is the fifth largest French-speaking city right now. Yet, in practice, the majority of the population of this city is bilingual whereas a significant part of the citizens also speak three languages.
The attractions of Montreal
Have you known that Mount Royal Park located in Montreal was actually designed by the same person who participated in the designing process of Central Park of New York City. This designer was Frederick Law Olmsted.
One of the important attractions of Montreal is an illuminated cross of the 103-feet height which is located on Mount Royal. The cross has been there since 1924 and its aim is commemorating the flood od 1642 which was rather close to destroying the entire colony of the first French settlers. Currently the government of the city is using LED illumination for the cross, however, depending on a particular date, the colour of the illumination can be changed. For example, when a Pope dies, the colour of the cross is traditionally changed into purple.
There is another interesting fact about the cross. According to the rules of the city, none of its buildings and other constructions can be higher than the Mount Royal Cross.
By the way, do you know that Assassin’s Creed which is one of the most successful video games of the action and adventure genres was developed by Ubisoft in Montreal?