From the 1600s to the early 1800s, rivers and lakes acted as highways for the lucrative fur trade, and Montreal became an ideal entrepôt site to facilitate that trade. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers made it an important staging centre for a fur trade to the west and north as far as the Hudson Bay. Lawrence (just west of the city) prohibited some larger vessels from continuing upriver, fur traders were nevertheless able to follow the river to the Great Lakes and, via Lake Michigan, on to the largest river system in North America—the Mississippi-Missouri rivers.
Long after the fur trade had ended, technologies that improved water-based travel, such as dredging and canals, only enhanced Montreal’s status as a transportation centre.
(The Lachine Canal National Historic Site preserves the path of the ship canal at the southern end of Montreal Island that was used to bypass the rapids until the seaway was constructed.) Montreal has a continental climate, but its proximity to the Great Lakes, in combination with prevailing westerly winds, modifies temperatures for both winter and summer.
The average temperature for January is in the mid-teens F (about –9 °C), but the windchill factor can decrease that temperature considerably.
Lawrence was a large sea (Champlain Sea) that eventually drained, leaving the fertile sedimentary St.
Lawrence River valley, which is shaped like a funnel—narrow at the Quebec city end and considerably wider upriver at Montreal.
The city of Montreal occupies about three-fourths of Hochelaga Archipelago, one of three archipelagoes near the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Montreal’s economy, however, was long dominated by an Anglophone minority.
It began as a missionary settlement but soon became a fur-trading centre, a role that was enhanced after the conquest of New France by the British in 1763. Lawrence proved to be a major advantage in its development as a transportation, manufacturing, and financial centre.
One component of the grand design was a successful bid to host the 1967 World’s Fair in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.Those physical conditions eventually translated into a settlement pattern with more farms and people in and around Montreal than around Quebec city.Moreover, Montreal’s location farther south and in closer proximity to the modifying effects of the Great Lakes than Quebec city gave the region’s farmers a distinct advantage in increased frost-free days over those who lived downriver. Lawrence River, draining the Great Lakes, provided a natural waterway and transportation corridor to the heart of the North American continent.Montreal, French Montréal, city, Quebec province, southeastern Canada. From the time of the confederation of Canada (1867), Montreal was the largest metropolitan centre in the country until it was overtaken by Toronto in the 1970s.Montreal is the second most-populous city in Canada and the principal metropolis of the province of Quebec. French Canadians are the majority population in Montreal, which is often said to be the second largest French-speaking city in the world (after Paris), though the accuracy of that statement is sometimes questioned (principally by those who make the same claim for Kinshasa and Algiers).In the summer months the area called the Quartiers des Spectacles hosts several of Montreal’s best-known festivals, including the Just for Laughs Festival, the International Jazz Festival, and the Francofolies (dedicated to Francophone music).Montreal’s neighbourhoods have a distinct character and appeal.Since the 1980s formerly working-class neighbourhoods such as the Plateau Mont-Royal—which is east of Mont Royal and north of the city’s central core—have developed into trendy areas.At the center of “the Plateau,” the 400,000-square-metre (40-hectare) Lafontaine Park offers a bucolic setting with large trees, two ponds, an open-air theatre, and bike paths.Southeast of the Plateau is another of Montreal’s distinctive neighbourhoods, the Latin Quarter, where students have congregated since the 18th century.Adjacent to the Latin Quarter is the Village, or Gay Village, the focus of Montreal’s gay community.