History of Montreal

The history of Montreal is an interesting story that dates back over 8,000 years. Although human beings inhabited the land for centuries prior, the first recorded history of people living in the area came about when European explorers discovered an enigmatic group of Iroquois Indians inhabiting the area near Mount Royal by the St. Lawrence River in present-day Montreal. The facts on Montreal tell us that a French explorer named Jacques Cartier was the first European to arrive in this part of Canada. He recorded some 200 words of the interested Laurentian language that the indigenous Iroquois spoke at the time, a dialect quite distinct from other groups of native peoples in the surrounding areas. Cartier also traveled to present-day Quebec City on his journey. The French people and their own culture would thereafter heavily influence Montreal culture.

Samuel de Champlain revisited the site 70 years after Cartier had discovered Montreal in 1535. This Frenchman sought to set up a fur trade in Montreal, but was met with fierce resistance from the Mohawk of the Iroquois, who it is thought may have completely obliterated the St. Lawrence Iroquois that Cartier found just several decades prior. When Champlain arrived in the same place, he was shocked to find out that there was no evidence of a human settlement at all, and that these were now most probably simply the hunting grounds of the Mohawk. It took until 1639 for the French to take the first step in creating their vision of a French colonial empire in Canada. A man named Jerome le Royer de la Dauversiere, along with several missionaries for the Roman Catholic Church, created this permanent settlement and opened up the Ville Marie Mission in May of 1642.

The beginnings of the history of Montreal for the French were shaky at best, and after repeated attacks by the Mohawks, most all of the people who remained at the mission moved north to what is now Quebec City. But Montreal culture was already beginning to be shaped by the colonial aspirations of the French and by the fur trade that was established in the region. The city was finally fortified in 1725 and the Great Peace of Montreal between the French and Iroquois allowed the new settlement and the surrounding settlements to grow and develop without constant fear of attack from the natives.

More facts on Montreal help us to realize that the presence of the natives were not the only challenge facing the French. Rather, a loss to the British in the Seven Years War and the pursuant Treaty of Paris forced the French to cede the entirety of their Canadian colonies to the British. From this point forward, Montreal culture would also begin to absorb the influences of the British, as well as American revolutionaries. Montreal became an official city in 1832. After the rocky history of Montreal, complete with all of the fighting and wars, the city has come to stand as one of the most significant in all of North America, both in terms of business as well as the arts. Today, people from all over the world can enjoy the rich Montreal culture, whether it is with classical music and opera, art museums and historical monuments, or the vibrant café and restaurant scene.

Some extra facts on Montreal that people may be interested in knowing are that it is the second largest city in Canada and the largest in the province of Quebec. 52 percent of the population speaks French as a first language, with English coming in a distant second with 12 percent of the population.

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