Montreal is the metropolis of the province of Quebec. Quebec City is the political capital but Montreal is the cultural and economic capital of Quebec and the main entry point to the province. The second largest city in Canada, it is a city rich in culture and history and a well-deserved reputation as one of the liveliest cities in North America. Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking (as a mother language) city in the world, behind Paris. The population of Montreal is about 1.9 million, with 4 million in the metro area. Montreal is sometimes referred to as The Paris of Canada.
It is on the shore of the St. Lawrence River the last port for ocean going vessels before they need to use the lock system of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a waterway which allows ocean going vessels to reach to the middle of the continent. Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city with a wide variety of cultural centers and activities. World class ski hills are within an hour or two drive from the city.
The Place des Arts is a complex of concert and theatre halls in downtown Montreal. Adjacent to it is the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was founded in 1964 and moved to its present location in 1992. Also nearby is the Complexe Desjardins, an exciting example of modern architecture; the complex, with its multilevel terraces, balconies, mezzanines, and sunken plaza, comprises three office towers, a public square, a hotel, and several restaurants and retail stores. Art instruction is given, among other places, at the Museum of Fine Arts. Besides a conservatory of music, faculties or schools of music offer instruction at the universities. Other significant museums include the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History (Pointe-à-Callière) and the McCord Museum of Canadian History.
Multicultural, multilingual, and in 2016 named Intelligent Community of the Year, Montréal can now also lay claim to being the world’s best city for international students. Climbing six places to top this year’s QS Best Student Cities, Canada’s “cultural capital” performs well across all six categories assessed – including the new Student View component.
Montréal is home to several of Canada’s highest-ranking institutions, including McGill University (currently ranked 30th in the world and 1st in Canada) and the Université de Montréal (126th in the world, 5th in Canada). The city is also a regular contender in lists of the world’s best places to live – and it seems students agree! In the Student View category added to the index this year, Montréal comes out fifth overall, with a particularly strong rating for arts and culture, as well as for its friendliness, diversity and affordability.
None of this is likely to come as a surprise. As a French-speaking city in a largely English-speaking nation that has experienced mass immigration from across the world, Montréal is known for its multicultural makeup and inclusive ethos. It’s also renowned for its laidback yet lively lifestyle, attractive boulevards, thriving creative industries, café culture, and eclectic range of arts venues, live performances and nightlife.
The Greater Montreal Area is predominantly Roman Catholic; however, weekly attendance in Quebec is among the lowest in Canada. Historically Montreal has been a centre of Catholicism in North America with its numerous seminaries and churches, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, and Saint Joseph’s Oratory. Some 65.8% of the total population is Christian, largely Roman Catholic (52.8%), primarily because of descendants of original French settlers, and others of Italian and Irish origins. Protestants which include Anglican Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Lutheran, owing to British and German immigration, and other denominations number 5.90%, with a further 3.7% consisting mostly of Orthodox Christians, fueled by a large Greek population. There is also a number of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox parishes. Islam is the largest non-Christian religious group, with 154,540 members, the second-largest concentration of Muslims in Canada at 9.6%. The Jewish community in Montreal has a population of 90,780. In cities such as Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead, Jewish people constitute the majority, or a substantial part of the population. As recently as 1971 the Jewish community in Greater Montreal was as high as 109,480. Political and economic uncertainties led many to leave Montreal and the province of Quebec.
The religious breakdown of the population of Montreal is:
- Christian: 65.8%
- No religion: 18.14%
- Muslim: 9.6%
- Jewish: 2.2%
- Buddhist: 2.0%
- Hindu: 1.4%
- Sikh: 0.03%
- Other religions: 0.3%
Montreal has the second-largest economy of Canadian cities based on GDP and the largest in Quebec. In 2014, Metropolitan Montreal was responsible for C$118.7 billion of Quebec’s C$340.7 billion GDP. The city is today an important centre of commerce, finance, industry, technology, culture, world affairs and is the headquarters of the Montreal Exchange.
Industries include aerospace, electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, printed goods, software engineering, telecommunications, textile and apparel manufacturing, tobacco, petrochemicals, and transportation. The service sector is also strong and includes civil, mechanical and process engineering, finance, higher education, and research and development. In 2002, Montreal was the fourth-largest centre in North America in terms of aerospace jobs.
The Port of Montreal is one of the largest inland ports in the world handling 26 million tonnes of cargo annually. As one of the most important ports in Canada, it remains a transshipment point for grain, sugar, petroleum products, machinery, and consumer goods. For this reason, Montreal is the railway hub of Canada and has always been an extremely important rail city; it is home to the headquarters of the Canadian National Railway, and was home to the headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway until 1995.
BNP Paribas 1981 McGill College Avenue
The headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency is in Longueuil, southeast of Montreal. Montreal also hosts the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a United Nations body); the World Anti-Doping Agency (an Olympic body); the Airports Council International (the association of the world’s airports – ACI World); the International Air Transport Association (IATA), IATA Operational Safety Audit and the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC), as well as some other international organizations in various fields.
Montreal is a centre of film and television production. The headquarters of Alliance Films and five studios of the Academy Award-winning documentary producer National Film Board of Canada are in the city, as well as the head offices of Telefilm Canada, the national feature-length film and television funding agency and Télévision de Radio-Canada. Given its eclectic architecture and broad availability of film services and crew members, Montreal is a popular filming location for feature-length films, and sometimes stands in for European locations. The city is also home to many recognized cultural, film and music festivals (Just For Laughs, Just For Laughs Gags, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and others), which contribute significantly to its economy. It is also home to one of the world’s largest cultural enterprises, the Cirque du Soleil.
The video game industry has been booming in Montreal since 1997, coinciding with the opening of Ubisoft Montreal. Recently, the city has attracted world leading game developers and publishers studios such as Ubisoft Montreal, EA, Eidos Interactive, Bioware, Artificial Mind and Movement, Strategy First, THQ, Gameloft mainly because of the quality of local specialized labor, and tax credits offered to the corporations. Recently, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros., announced that it would open a video game studio. Relatively new to the video game industry, it will be Warner Bros. first studio opened, not purchased, and will develop games for such Warner Bros. franchises as Batman and other games from their DC Comics portfolio. The studio will create 300 jobs.
Air Canada Centre (French: Centre Air Canada), the headquarters of Air Canada
Montreal plays an important role in the finance industry. The sector employs approximately 100,000 people in the Greater Montreal Area. As of March 2016, Montreal is ranked in the 21st position in the Global Financial Centres Index, a ranking of the competitiveness of financial centres around the world. The city is home to the Montreal Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in Canada and the only financial derivatives exchange in the country. The corporate headquarters of the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, two of the biggest banks in Canada, were in Montreal. While both banks moved their headquarters to Toronto, Ontario, their legal corporate offices remain in Montreal. The city is home to head offices of two smaller banks, National Bank of Canada and Laurentian Bank of Canada. The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, an instutitonal investor managing assets totalling $248 billion CAD, has its main business office in Montreal. Many foreign subsidiaries operating in the financial sector also have offices in Montreal, including HSBC, Aon, Société Générale, BNP Paribas and AXA.
Several companies are headquartered in Greater Montreal Area including Rio Tinto Alcan, Bombardier Inc., Canadian National Railway, CGI Group, Air Canada, Air Transat, CAE, Saputo, Cirque du Soleil, Quebecor, Ultramar, Kruger Inc., Jean Coutu Group, Uniprix, Proxim, Domtar, Le Château,
Others are Power Corporation, Cellcom Communications, Bell Canada, Standard Life, Hydro-Québec, AbitibiBowater, Pratt and Whitney Canada, Molson, Tembec, Canada Steamship Lines, Fednav, Alimentation Couche-Tard, SNC-Lavalin, MEGA Brands, Aeroplan, Agropur, Metro Inc., Laurentian Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, Transat A.T., Via Rail, Novacam Technologies, SOLABS, Dollarama, Rona and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. ~
The Montreal Oil Refining Centre is the largest refining centre in Canada, with companies like Petro-Canada, Ultramar, Gulf Oil, Petromont, Ashland Canada, Parachem Petrochemical, Coastal Petrochemical, Interquisa (Cepsa) Petrochemical, Nova Chemicals, and more. Shell decided to close the refining centre in 2010, throwing hundreds out of work and causing an increased dependence on foreign refineries for eastern Canada.~