History in Montreal

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Early History of Montreal

Montreal history has been long and varied. The First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal for approximately 2,000 years before the arrival of the first Europeans. The St. Lawrence Iroquoians founded the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mont Royal centuries before the French arrived (approximately A.D. 1300). Jacques Cartier, the French explorer, visited the area on October 2, 1535, claiming the St. Lawrence Valley for France.

The second French explorer to visit Montreal was Samuel de Champlain in 1611. He reported that the St. Lawrence Iroquoians and their settlements had disappeared entirely from the St. Lawrence valley. Champlain established a fur trading post on the island of Montreal called La Place Royale. The area was known as Ville-Marie and became a center for the fur trade and a base for French exploration of North America. Montreal remained a French colony until 1760 when it was surrendered to Great Britain after its victory in the Seven Years War. A number of Scots settled in Montreal after the changing of the flag and formed the North West Company which flourished in the western fur trade until merging with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821.

Modern History of Montreal

Two key developments allowed for the development of Montreal in the first part of the 19th century. The opening of the Lachine Canal in 1825 permitted ships to bypass the Lachine Rapids and the construction of the Victoria Bridge established Montreal as a major rail hub. As a result, by 1860, Montreal had become the largest city in British North America and the economic and cultural center of Canada. Montreal continued to grow into the 20th century.

The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 permitted ships to bypass Montreal, thereby ending its dominance. Montreal experienced continued economic growth in the 1960s. Many new buildings were built, new roads were constructed, a subway system was completed and Expo 67 brought international attention to the city in celebration of Canada's centennial.

The 1970s were marked by increased separatist sentiments which included the kidnapping and murder of a cabinet minister, the passage of Bill 101 which established French as the official language of Quebec and a narrowly passed 1994 referendum for Quebec to remain part of Canada.

In 2002, Montreal merged with 27 surrounding municipalities covering the entire island of Montreal. This move was unpopular and resulted in a demerger in 2006 leaving a total of 15 merged municipalities, including Montreal.

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March 28, 2010 change by bret444

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