12 Best Things You May Not Know About Montreal, Quebec, Canada – St. Lawrence River
Port of Montreal, Quebec
A cruise and transshipment point, the Port of Montreal is located along St. Lawrence Seaway. It is operated as an international container port serving Toronto and Central Canada, the US Midwest and the US Northeast. It may be located at St. Lawrence Seaway and an inland of the Atlantic Ocean but the Port of Montreal is the shortest route between Europe and the Mediterranean Sea with the North American Midwest.
This port handles consumer goods, machinery, cereal, sugar, petroleum products and other types of cargo vessels. Likewise, Port of Montreal welcomes cruise ships and is operated by the Montreal Port Authority. Aside from the passenger cruise terminal, it has container terminals, grain, dry as well as liquid bulk, of which six petroleum companies like Shell Canada and Suncor Energy are found in the area.
An Overview on Montreal:
It is not only a city but also an island and is located along St. Lawrence River inhabited by Iroquis Indians before the French explorer Jacques Cartier sighted Montreal in 1535. Together with his men, they climbed up the mountain and planted a cross in the name of France, then named the mountain “Mont Royal.” Originally named Ville Marie (City of Mary) by the French explorers, the city has been founded by Paul de Chomedey Maisonneuve in 1642 and called the city Montreal from Mont Royal mountain.
The French colonists were later defeated by the British in a battle at Plains of Abraham in Quebec City in 1759 thus Montreal was occupied by the U.K. However, the British allowed the French to stay in the city and live as subjects of the vast British Empire. In the ensuing years, colonists from England, Scotland and Ireland arrived and lived alongside the French.
Even if they were under British rule, the French Montrealers flourished. Eventually, the English, Scots and Irish settlers intermarried with the French that is why these days some French settlers have British surnames and a large number of English speaking Montrealers got French last names. It has also become a destination of many immigrants, including Filipinos which makes it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America. These days, Montreal is the most bilingual city in the world where residents speak at least a little of both French and English.
Bienvenue a Montreal. C’est si bon! This time we arrived at the Port of Montreal on October 2000 aboard M/T Knock Stocks. An urban gem with all its good stuff, it was once the largest city in Canada, until Toronto seized that title. Famous for its rich French heritage especially the Old Montreal area which reminds every visitor of what life in the “New World” has been when this city was a bastion of France‘s fur trading business in North America 350 years ago. So let’s get started on the best things you may not know about Montreal.
Birthplace of Cirque de Soleil
Undoubtedly one of the city’s most famous contributions to the world and a best thing you may not know, the Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 at Montreal by 20 street performers. Meaning “circus of the sun” it features a mix of circus acts street performance, exceptional acrobatic accomplishment and the unusual. With its state-of-the-art stages, special effects and world-class stunts, Cirque du Soleil has performed in 450 cities worldwide.
It has the largest LGBTQ+ zone in North America, the Gay Village
You know, every part of Montreal is “a wee bit gay” and the Gay Village, a best thing you may not know, is the largest LGBTQ+ area in North America. Originally called “Le Village de l’Est”, it used to be the safe gathering point for gays and lesbians to celebrate and support each other. These days everyone with an “open mind” is welcome for an unforgettable stroll, do some window shopping or just simply admire its amazing street arts.
Where hockey is considered a religion
While Americans have football, the UK got soccer, Canadians have hockey and a best thing you may not know, in Montreal, it is not just a sport but it’s a religion. An institution and a way of life, ice hockey has its origins in Montreal way back in 1875 at McGill University and this city has been playing the said sports since then. Even kids play street hockey all year long.
The famous video game Assassin’s Creed was made in Montreal
A popular action-adventure video game, Assassin’s Creed and a best thing you may not know, was created by Ubisoft in Montreal. It is actually based on a real Islamic sect known as The Order of Hashshashin who were trained killers used to eliminate leaders during the 12th century in Masyaf, Syria. Ubisoft is a game developer that has a studio in Montreal and the 3rd largest producer of video games in the world.
The cradle of maple syrup production
And since Quebec is Montreal‘s “provence”, it is the home of maple syrup production, a best thing you may not know wherein the city produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup. Considered as Canada‘s “liquid gold” maple syrup goes beyond pancakes as well. There is a maple candy, maple butter, maple spread, and other baked goodies to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Home to an Underground City
In winter, over 500,000 people use it on a daily basis to keep them warm and in summer it provides residents and visitors alike to escape the heat. Beneath the city runs a 30-km labyrinth of tunnels called “The Underground City.” A best thing you may not know, the Underground City connects to shopping malls, hotels, universities, banks and offices including to the seven metro stations of Montreal.
A UNESCO City of Design especially at the Old Montreal and the Old Port
One of the only 3 design capitals of the world (after Berlin and Buenos Aires), Montreal was awarded a UNESCO City of Design in 2006. A best thing you may not know, the historic quarter of Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal) where the city began, provides a window to its rich history with cobblestone streets and remarkable architecture of the 17th-19th centuries. Located also in Old Montreal is the Old Port used in the 18th century during the city’s booming fur trade and while it is no longer in use these days, it is still one of the most visited spots due to its attractive setting and the different activities it offers.
It’s PM Justin Trudeau’s hometown
Though he was born in Ottawa, Canada on a Christmas day in 1971, when PM Justin Pierre James Trudeau was 12 years old his family moved to Montreal. A best thing you may not know, he first worked as a teacher before he entered politics, first as a Member of the Parliament in 2005, re-elected in 2011, then as a Prime Minister of Canada beginning 2015 to the present.
The 2nd biggest French-speaking city in the world after Paris
After Paris in France, a best thing you may not know, Montreal is the 2nd largest primarily French-speaking city on the planet. It continues its strong French influences with most of its residents speaking the language at home. And not only that, it is one of Canada‘s most bilingual cities with most of its people being able to speak both French and English as in the case of my 12-year-old grand-niece, Zoe Annika Ballesteros (pictured above) who moved to Montreal from the Philippines in 2018 but now fluent in both languages.
Where you can find Habitat 67, a quirky housing complex only in Montreal
An iconic and world-famous Montreal landmark constructed for the Expo ’67, Habitat 67 a best thing you may not know is a housing project made up of 354 concrete boxes interconnected and stacked atop each other in semi-pyramidal construction. One of the most innovative and significant projects of the 1960s, Habitat 67 was given a heritage status which you can explore via a guided tour.
It hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics where Nadia Comaneci (Romanian gymnast) scored perfect 10
The first ever held in Canada, Montreal hosted the 1976 summer Olympic games where judges in the gymnastics competition were hard pressed to find a single mistake in the performance of then 14 years old Romanian Nadia Comaneci. A best thing you may not know, she was the first gymnast to have a perfect score of 10 in all of Olympics history leaving Montreal with 3 gold medals at that time.
Home to Basilique Notre Dame, venue of Celine Dion’s Dec. 17, 1994 wedding to Rene Angelil
Located in the middle of Old Montreal and a best thing you may not know, Notre Dame Basilica is a Gothic Revival masterpiece that will leave you speechless. This is not just a place of prayer and a Eucharistic celebration of Catholic worship but the venue of great events as well. Having one of the most colorful interiors in North America, it was in this grand Church where Celine Dion exchanged her marriage vows with Rene Angelil on December 1994. Built between 1824-1829, Basilique Notre Dame also features towers which are reminiscent of the Notre Dame in Paris.
A city of considerable charm, exuberance and exceptional modernity, Montreal promises lots of fun and entertainment. Just say “oui” to this city and you will surely fall in love with all its quirkiness and randomness. There is always something in its every bend waiting to be discovered.