Partner City


La Metropole

Montreal was founded by the French in 1642 as a mission and fur trade post. After the British Conquest of New France, Montreal grew in importance as a major economic centre, and by 1860 it had surpassed Quebec City as the largest city in Canada, as well as its undisputed economic and cultural centre. Many English and Scottish immigrants settled in Montreal alongside the original French-Canadian inhabitants, giving the city a strong Anglophone presence. Since the late 1800s however, most newly arriving Anglophone immigrants moved west into Ontario and the prairies, and Montreal gradually returned to its original French roots. Today it is the largest French-speaking city in the Americas, and the second largest city in Canada.

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Historic Walking Tours

Tour Spots in Montreal

Then and Now Photos

Funeral of General D'Urban Funeral of General D'Urban

McCord Museum M21904 & On This Spot Enterprises

Funeral of General D'Urban - 1849

An honour guard lines the street as the funeral cortege of General Benjamin D'Urban passes by. D'Urban was a British General who fought throughout the Iberian Campaign in the Napoleonic Wars. Afterwards he served as lieutenant governor in a variety of British colonies, including British Guiana, Antigua, and South Africa. His racist and brutal policies towards black people in South Africa prompted a parliamentary investigation, and the resulting public outcry led to his dismissal. In 1847 he was appointed supreme commander of British forces in North America, and kept his headquarters in Montreal until his death in 1849.

Champ de Mars Champ de Mars

McCord Museum I-20782.1 & On This Spot Enterprises

Champ de Mars - 1866

The Champ de Mars was Montreal's main military parade ground. It stands on part of Montreal's old city walls, which were demolished in the early 1800s when they were no longer thought necessary.

St. Jacques Snowdrifts St. Jacques Snowdrifts

McCord Museum MP-0000.1452.28 & On This Spot Enterprises

St. Jacques Snowdrifts - 1869

Snow piled high in a commercial area on St. Jacques Street.

St Jacques Street from Victoria Square St Jacques Street from Victoria Square

McCord Museum MP-0000.1452.29 & On This Spot Enterprises

St Jacques Street from Victoria Square - 1870

A view east down Saint Jacques Square. A few carriages line the side of the road, which is comparatively empty by modern standards.

A Pastoral Scene A Pastoral Scene

McCord Museum M315 & On This Spot Enterprises

A Pastoral Scene - 1830s

A painting by James Duncan the perspective of Mount Royal showing the city, which has yet to grow much beyond into the fields surrounding Old Montreal.

Skating Rink Skating Rink

McCord Museum MP-1980.47.42 & On This Spot Enterprises

Skating Rink - 1876

A skating rink has been set up at the Old Port of Montreal. The building in the back is today the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum

Nelson's Column Nelson's Column

McCord Museum VIEW-1484.0 & On This Spot Enterprises

Nelson's Column - 1884

Nelson's Column towers over horses and buggies in Cartier Square. Erected in 1809, it commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson and his decisive naval victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar only four years before. It's the second oldest Nelson's Column in the world, and the oldest war monument in Canada.

Flooded Cartier Square Flooded Cartier Square

McCord Museum MP-0000.236.6 & On This Spot Enterprises

Flooded Cartier Square - 1886

A huge flood after the spring breakup has submerged much of the lower part of Cartier Square.

The Lachine Canal The Lachine Canal

McCord Museum VIEW-2231 & On This Spot Enterprises

The Lachine Canal - 1890

Paddlewheelers and sailboats moored near the entrance to the Lachine Canal.

Streetcars in front of the HBC Store Streetcars in front of the HBC Store

McCord Museum II-111369 & On This Spot Enterprises

Streetcars in front of the HBC Store - 1895

Two crowded streetcars stopped in front of the Hudson's Bay Company store on Saint Catherine Street. Beginning in 1861, Montreal's trams were drawn by horses, but in 1892 the horses were replaced with electric power, one of the first cities to adopt this new technology. The Montreal Street Railway was known for being at the forefront of innovation, and pioneered the "Pay As You Enter" (P.A.Y.E.) for collecting fares, a system used by virtually every transit system in the world today. Before that a conductor would walk up and down the aisle collecting fares from passengers. Montreal's electric streetcars were finally phased out in 1959.

On the Parade Ground On the Parade Ground

McCord Museum MP-1977.76.36 & On This Spot Enterprises

On the Parade Ground - 1897

Soldiers in the distinctive colonial style pith helmets are milling about on the Champ de Mars.

View to the Southeast View to the Southeast

McCord Museum Musee McCord M2003.28.1 & On This Spot Enterprises

View to the Southeast - 1907

A view of Montreal towards the southeast.

Crossing St. Jacques Street Crossing St. Jacques Street

McCord Museum M2003.28.9 & On This Spot Enterprises

Crossing St. Jacques Street - 1907

Pedestrians crossing a busy St. Jacques street. Notice the cobblestone street and streetcar rails.

The Silver Dollar Palace The Silver Dollar Palace

McCord Museum MP-1984.25.1.64 & On This Spot Enterprises

The Silver Dollar Palace - 1914

Two men loiter on the sidewalk in front of the Silver Dollar Palace, at the top of Jacques Cartier Square.

Building Cartier Bridge Building Cartier Bridge

McCord Museum M2011. & On This Spot Enterprises

Building Cartier Bridge - 1928

Looking towards the Cartier Bridge as it is under construction, from Victoria Pier.

The Sun Life Building The Sun Life Building

McCord Museum M2011. & On This Spot Enterprises

The Sun Life Building - 1930

The massive Sun Life Building once dominated Montreal's skyline. At the time of its completion in 1931 it had the largest square footage of any building in the British Empire.

Dorchester Street Bridge Dorchester Street Bridge

McCord Museum M2011. & On This Spot Enterprises

Dorchester Street Bridge - 1931

A couple cars and a streetcar on the Dorchester Street Bridge during the Great Depression. The skyscraper at right is the Sun Life Building, which was just completed when this photo was taken. When it was finished it had more square footage than any other building in the British Empire.

Southeast Vista Southeast Vista

McCord Museum M2011. & On This Spot Enterprises

Southeast Vista - 1935

Looking southeast across Montreal. In the foreground is McGill University's campus, and in the distance you can see the cantilever style Jacques Cartier Bridge, which was completed in 1930, a few years before this photo was taken.

Canadian Bank of Commerce Canadian Bank of Commerce

McCord Museum M2011. & On This Spot Enterprises

Canadian Bank of Commerce - 1938

Looking down James Street during a royal visit by King George VI in the lead-up to World War II. The buildings have been decorated with banners for the occasion. The building on the left is the Canadian Bank of Commerce.