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Montreal

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-OlympicStadiumMontreal is the largest city in Quebec, and though Quebec City is the capital, Montreal is the cultural center of the province.  The second largest city in Canada, and the 15th largest in North America, Montreal is one of the liveliest cities in North America, offering endless entertainment and enrichment.

Though Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world (behind Paris), it is very much a bilingual city, and those who don’t speak French will have no trouble getting around.

Montreal was home to many First Nations native peoples.  They built fortified villages and cultivated maize in the area. Their settlements existed at the foot of Mount Royal for several hundred years before the French came to the scene.  In the 15th century, Samuel de Champlain noted that much of the native people had left the area, probably due to an influx in European migration, disease, and tribal wars. Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal in 1611. It soon became the center of the fur trade, helping the colony to establish further.  It also served as a base for further French exploration into North America, and a Roman Catholic mission, Kahnweake, was established to help convert native people.

In 1760, France was forced to surrender their North American territories to Great Britain, in the aftermath of the Seven Years War.  Montreal became an incorporated city in 1832, and the Lachine Canal opened not long after, allowing ships to bypass the Lachine Rapids, and creating greater possibilities for trade.  The Victoria Bridge helped to make Montreal a major railway hub, also increasing trade.  By 1860 Montreal had established itself as the cultural and economic hub of Canada, as well as the largest city in British North America.

From 1844 to 1849 it was the capital of the Province of Canada.  However, after a Tory mob protested the passage of a bill by burning down Parliament, the capital was moved to Ottawa.

During the 1920s, Prohibition in the U.S helped Montreal become a mecca for Americans seeking alcohol.  Montreal built up a large industry surrounding alcohol and burlesque because of the large number of people coming over the border to enjoy the city. By the 1950’s, Montreal’s population and grown to over one million people.  The opening of the St Lawrence Seaway allowed ships to bypass Montreal, diminishing its economic dominance.  However, the city continued to grow, and was the home of the World’s Fair, Expo 67, during the 1960s.  It also hosted the Olympics in 1976.

In 2002 Montreal and the 27 surrounding municipalities were merged, helping to create a more unified city of Montreal, spanning the entire island.  The move was not popular, especially in the English speaking suburbs, and several suburbs voted to leave the city.  This has resulted in Montreal being made up of many interesting, unique districts all of which have something special to offer to tourists waiting to explore them.

Montreal has a long, rich history, and is often hailed as Canada’s cultural capital.  It is full of museums, art centers, brilliant theater, and is the center of Canada’s french language television production.  It is also renowned for its beautiful churches, and is home to the second largest copper dome in the world, after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  It offers great places to do some of your favorite winter activities, like ice skating and snow shoeing, and is a short distance from downhill skiing and other great winter activities.

Getting to Montreal is easy.  International flights go into Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, after which it is easy to find a taxi or take the STM Airport Express bus 747 to downtown Montreal.  Buses run between the airport and downtown 24 hours a day and are significantly cheaper than a taxi ride.

Plattsburgh International Airport and Burlington International Airport are both nearby airports on the U.S side of the border.  This may help American travelers save on airfare but arranging ground travel will be more difficult.  Montreal is roughly a one hour drive from Plattsburgh.

By train, Amtrak’s Adirondack service offers daily rides to Montreal.  Greyhound Lines and Adirondack Trailways offer bus service from New York to Montreal.  Vermont Transit also offers four daily services from Boston.

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