Montreal, Quebec's History on TransCanadaHighway.com



Jacques Cartier's reached Montreal on his second voyage to North America, in 1535, when he explored the island and climbed Mont Royal. The island was settled by 1000 Iroquois, who lived in a fortified town they called Hochelaga.

When the explorer Samuel de Champlain passed her in 1611, he did not find the town, but recognized the island's location at the junction of the Ottawa and St Lawrence rivers as a perfect spot for a fur trading post. A group of French citizens settled there in 1642, called it Ville Marie and tried to convert the natives to Christianity, though ran into resistance from the Iroquois natives, which continued until a treaty was signed in 1701.

BeaverThe fur trade was the reason for Montreal's existence and growth for the next 150 years, and was the launching point for couriers des bois (runners of the woods - trapper and fur traders) into the interior of the continent, exploring to the mouth of the Mississippi and west to the Rockies. The British army took Montreal in 1760, and France ceded of the colony to Britain. At first this transfer saw little change in the life of most Québécois who were permitted to maintain their language and religion. The fur trade was transferred to the Scots who ran the North West Company from the city, until it merged with the Hudson's bay Company in the 1820s. Montreal became the landing point for the thousands of British settlers in Canada, many of whom stayed in the area, some of which ventured further inland settling along Lake Ontario or up the Ottawa River. The Catholic Church, which dominated rural society resulted in large but economically and educationally deprived families of French-speakers which ensures continued demographic dominance in Quebec over all the Enlish-speaking immigrants.
The fur trade was the reason for Montreal's existence and growth for the next 150 years, and was the launching point for couriers des bois (runners of the woods - trapper and fur traders) into the interior of the continent, exploring to the mouth of the Mississippi and west to the Rockies.

The British army took Montreal in 1760, and France ceded of the colony to Britain. At first this transfer saw little change in the life of most Québécois who were permitted to maintain their language and religion. The fur trade was transferred to the Scots who ran the North West Company from the city, until it merged with the Hudson's bay Company in the 1820s. Montreal became the landing point for the thousands of British settlers in Canada, many of whom stayed in the area, some of which ventured further inland settling along Lake Ontario or up the Ottawa River.

The Catholic Church, which dominated rural society resulted in large but economically and educationally deprived families of French-speakers which ensures continued demographic dominance in Quebec over all the Enlish-speaking immigrants.

Canal Lachine Canal, historical site The creation of Lower Canada (now Quebec) and Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1791 emphasized the inequalities between anglophones and francophones, as the French-speaking majority in Lower Canada were ruled by an assembly of francophone priests and seigneurs who had to answer to a British governor appointed in London. Rebellions against this hierarchy by the French Patriotes in 1837 led to an investigation by Lord Durham, who concluded that English and French relations were akin to "two nations warring within the bosom of a single state". Durham recommended immersing French-Canadians in the English culture of North America.

By the 1800s, Montreal led Canada's industrial revolution and by the early 1900s, its residents controlled 70% of the wealth of Canada. French-Canadians remained isolated economically until English-managed industrialization drew francophones into the cities, creating a French middle class.

Over the 20th century, Montreal expanded rapidly with its influx of Irish, Germans, Italians, and eastern European Jewish immigrants. The city absorbed neighbouring towns to become a large island city with a population of about 2 million. In the 1950's the city's architecture began to change as modern highrises sprouted in the city's downtown core.

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal's east end In the 1960s, under Mayor Jean Drapeau, its underground Metro subway system connected all of its neighbourhoods, and in 1967, the city hosted the world's air, better known as "Expo 67" which was very much the international symbol of Canada's centennial, and in 1976, Montreal hosted the summer Olympic Games.

A shake-up of Québec society came about with the "Quiet Revolution" in the 1960s, spurred by the Liberal provincial government under Jean Lesage. The Liberals, despite being staunchly federalist, were constantly at loggerheads with Ottawa.

Québécois' desire for recognition of their culture and their political power reached a violent peak in 1970 with the terrorist actions of the largely unpopular Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) who kidnapped cabinet minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. When they killed Laporte, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau enacted the War Measures Act and sent Canadian troops into the streets of Montréal.

Six years later, a massive reaction against the ruling provincial Liberals brought the separatist Parti Québécois (PQ) to power, led by René Lévesque. The Parti Québécois accelerated the process of social change with the Charte de la langue française, better known as Bill 101, which established French as the province's official language.

This led to a massive outflow of nervous English-speakers to Ontario and other parts of Canada, and a provincial referendum on Separation in 1980 was narrowly defeated 60% to 40%. Trudeau set about redrafting and repatriating the country's Constitution in the autumn of 1981. Because Quebec was not given a veto to protect its language rights, the provincial government refused to sign it. The 1990 Meech Lake Accord, architected by prime minister Brian Mulroney, which addressed a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and recognized Québec's status as a "distinct society" did not succeed in bringing Quebec into the constutional fold.

Another referendum in 1994 was held where the province opted to remain a part of Canada by a margin of under one percent (50.6% to 49.4%). This close call awoke the federalist camp, and prompted the governing Federal Liberals to invest huge sums to keep Quebec (and its voters) in Confederation. In 1992, Montreal celebrated is 350th anniversary.

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