Montreal today is vibrant, known for its culture, and a hot spot for all things food and music. But all that good stuff didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took about 375 years for the city to be shaped into what it is today.
This year, Montreal is marking its 375th anniversary meaning there’s no better time to celebrate one of Canada’s most colorful urban centres. Here are some fun facts about Montreal’s past and a few ways to celebrate during this very special year.
1. Montreal hosted the first Olympics ever held in Canada in the summer of 1976. Today, you can visit the Olympic Park and see icons like The Montreal Tower.
3. Mount Royal Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City. Be sure to stop and take in the view at the lookout.
4. Long before Europeans made their way to what’s now Montreal, the Iroquois people called this region home. You can visit the Pointe-à-Callière, a national archaeological and historic site, to discover more local history.
5. Montreal was the largest city in Canada for a period of time. Now, just because it’s smaller than Toronto doesn’t mean there isn’t still a ton to see and do.
6. Love architecture and history? Then the fact that Montreal is a UNESCO city of design might be of interest to you. Check out the beautiful architecture around the city - especially in Old Montreal and the Old Port.
8. During Prohibition, Montreal was a sinful reprieve for Americans hopping over the border to track down booze and places to gamble. You can still find delicious cocktails all around the city, and even a speakeasy or two.
10. Though most of the rest of Canada speaks English as a first language, Montrealers (and most Quebecers) are known for their French culture. This dates back to 1535 when Jacques Cartier (who now has a bridge named after him) arrived in Montreal after navigating the St. Lawrence River and claimed it for France.
That’s just a few of the facts that make Montreal unique. To really understand this unique city, explore it for yourself at one of these 375th celebration events:
Starting May 17
Montreal’s landscapes don’t get much more iconic than the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. In honour of the city’s 375th birthday and Canada’s 150th anniversary, Montreal multimedia designers Moment Factory are making the iron giant even more spectacular by converting it into a massive, illuminated interactive art piece.
May 17 – September 2
Images and scenes will be projected on rippling water walls and other spectacular installations in this piece. It will tell the story of those who lived there, who arrived by the St. Lawrence, whose livelihood depended on it, who built, innovated and set off to link Montreal to the rest of the world. In short, memories of the St. Lawrence will come alive through this installation in the Old Port neighborhood.
Les arts de la rue
July 1 – 31
Hundreds of artists from six countries will be performing upwards of 800 shows for Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations as a part of a spectacular street theatre event. This event is extra special because it’s the largest of its kind ever held in North America!
Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything
November 9, 2017 – April 1st, 2018
This multidisciplinary exhibition offers the public a collection of brand-new works commissioned from, and created by, local and international artists who were inspired by Leonard Cohen’s masterful style and recurring themes. These artists represent the visual arts, performance art, music, the written word and film, thus providing visitors with a dynamic, participatory and immersive experience.
A not-to-be-missed nightly experience in Old Montreal requiring this one-of-a-kind app (it’s free!). Cité Mémoire delivers a playful, lyrical interpretation of Montreal’s history, inspired by the city’s most remarkable characters and events. Roam the streets after dark and discover 20 different projected tableaus that come alive with images, words, and music.
Fusing the past and present, Montreal is a city that’s waiting to be explored. Plan your trip and celebrate at the Montreal Alive 375 website.