Place:Montréal, Île-de-Montréal, Québec, Canada

Alt namesMontrealsource: English form
Coordinates45.5°N 73.6°W
Located inÎle-de-Montréal, Québec, Canada     (1763 - 2001)
See alsoMontréal TE, Québec, Canadaterritory equivalent to a regional county municipality which it became in 2002
Montréal, Nouvelle-France, Canadauntil 1763
Contained Places
Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ( 1910 - 2002 )
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal ( - 2002 )
Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve ( - 2002 )
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie ( 2002 - )
Ville-Marie ( - 2002 )
Mount Royal Cemetery
Notre Dame Basilica
Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
City district
Ahuntsic ( 1910 - 2002 )
Côte-Saint-Paul ( 1910 - 2002 )
Hochelaga ( 1883 - 2002 )
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal ( - 2002 )
Little Burgundy ( 1906 - 2002 )
Maisonneuve ( 1918 - 2002 )
Mercier ( 1910 - 2002 )
Pointe-Saint-Charles ( 1887 - 2002 )
Rosemont ( 1910 - 2002 )
Saint-Henri ( 1905 - 2002 )
Ville-Marie ( - 2002 )
Ville-Émard ( 1910 - 2002 )
Inhabited place
Ahuntsic ( 1910 - 2002 )
Côte-Saint-Paul ( 1910 - 2002 )
Hochelaga ( 1883 - 2002 )
Maisonneuve ( 1918 - 2002 )
Mercier ( 1910 - 2002 )
Pointe-Saint-Charles ( 1887 - 2002 )
Saint-Henri ( 1905 - 2002 )
Ville-Émard ( 1910 - 2002 )
Pointe-aux-Trembles ( 1982 - 2002 )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

NOTE: Montreal should be spelled as in French: "Montréal". "Montréal, Nouvelle France" and "Montreal, New France" should automatically be redirected here.

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Montréal is a city in the Canadian province of Québec. It is located where the Ottawa River flows into the Saint Lawrence River.

It is the largest city in the province and the second-largest by population in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is on the Île de Montréal or, in English, the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city. A few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard surround the main island.

In 2011 the city had a population of 1,649,519.[1] Montreal's metropolitan area (CMA) (land area ) had a population of 3,824,221[2] and a population of 1,886,481 in the urban agglomeration (when all of the municipalities on the Island of Montreal included).[3] Current 2014 estimates of the CMA place the metropolitan area of Montreal at 4.1 million.

French is the city's official language and is the language spoken at home, as Québécois French, by 56.9% of the population of the city, followed by English at 18.6% and 19.8% other languages (in the 2006 census). In the larger Montreal Census Metropolitan Area, 67.9% of the population speaks French at home, compared to 16.5% who speak English. Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada with 56% of the population able to speak both English and French. Montreal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.

Historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population and economic strength by Toronto in the 1970s. It remains an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, and tourism.



Pre-European contact

Archaeological evidence demonstrates that First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal as early as 4,000 years ago. By the year AD 1000, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages. The Saint Lawrence Iroquoians, a people distinct from the Iroquois nations of the Haudenosaunee then based in present-day New York, established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal two centuries before the French arrived. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation there and at other locations in the valley since at least the 14th century. When the French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, he estimated the population of the native people at Hochelaga to be "over a thousand people".[4]

La Place Royale

Seventy years later, another French explorer, Samuel de Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal. The initial site was La Place Royale, the confluence of Petite Rivière and St. Lawrence River, where present-day Pointe-à-Callière stands. In 1639 Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal in order to establish a Roman Catholic mission to evangelize natives.


Dauversiere hired Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, then aged 30, to lead a group of colonists to build a mission on his new seigneury. The colonists left France in 1641 for Quebec, and arrived on the island the following year. On May 17, 1642, Ville-Marie was founded on the southern shore of Montreal island, with Maisonneuve as its first governor. The settlement included a chapel and a hospital, under the command of Jeanne Mance. By 1643, Ville-Marie had already been hit by Iroquois raids. In the spring of 1651, the Iroquois attacks became so frequent and so violent that Ville-Marie thought its end had come. Maisonneuve made all the settlers take refuge in the fort. By 1652, the colony at Montreal had been so reduced that he was forced to return to France to raise 100 volunteers to go with him to the colony the following year. If the effort had failed, Montreal would have been abandoned and the survivors re-located downriver to Quebec City. The population of Montreal was barely 50 people before these 100 arrived in the fall of 1653.

Ville-Marie remained as the name for the settlement on all official documents until 1705, when Montréal appeared for the first time, although people referred to the "Île-de-Montréal" long before then. "Nouvelle France" or "New France" was ruled as a French colony until 1763, when it was surrendered to Great Britain after the Seven Years' War when it became the Province of Quebec. The new British province extended from the coast of Labrador on the Atlantic Ocean, southwest through the Saint Lawrence River Valley to the Great Lakes and beyond to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Portions of its southwest (below the Great Lakes) were later ceded to the United States in a later Treaty of Paris (1783) at the conclusion of the American Revolution.

Lower Canada and Canada East

In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act that allowed Quebec to restore the use of French customary law ("Coutume de Paris") in private matters alongside the British common law system, and allowed the Catholic Church to collect tithes. Quebec retained its seigneurial system after the conquest.

However, owing to an influx of Loyalist refugees from the American Revolutionary War, the demographics of Quebec came to shift and now included a substantial English-speaking, Anglican or Protestant element from the former Thirteen Colonies. These United Empire Loyalists settled mainly in the Eastern Townships, Montreal, and what was known then as the pays d'en haut (high country) west of the Ottawa River. The Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the colony in two at the Ottawa River, so that the western part (Upper Canada), where English speakers were in the majority, could be under the British legal system. The eastern part, formerly New France, was named Lower Canada and continued with a slightly altered system to that which had been in force under the French.

Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832. In 1841 the provinces of Lower and Upper Canada were renamed Canada East and Canada West, respectively. The opening of the Lachine Canal permitted ships to bypass the unnavigable Lachine Rapids, while the construction of the Victoria Bridge established Montreal as a major railway hub. The city did not include the whole Île-de-Montréal as can be seen on the map above. By 1860, Montreal was the largest municipality in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.

Montreal was not without periods of ill-feeling between its French and English citizens from the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837 onward. It was made capital of the Province of Canada (both Lower and Upper Canada) from 1844 to 1849, but after a mob burned down the Parliament Buildings during a demonstration against a proposed bill, the government was moved to various other towns and eventually to Ottawa by Confederation in 1867. The British North America Act led to the renaming of Canada East to the Province of Quebec.


There was a downturn in economic activity which started in the late 19th century and continued into the 20th, and culminated in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The French-Canadians objected to the principle of conscription during both World Wars.

By 1951, Montreal's population had surpassed one million. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, allowing vessels to bypass Montreal instead of transferring goods from ocean-going ships to smaller lake steamers and vice-versa. In time this development led to the end of the city's economic dominance as businesses moved to other areas. However Montreal experienced growth through the 1960s, including the 1967 World's Fair known as Expo 67, and the construction new expressways and a subway system.

The 1970s ushered in a period of wide-ranging social and political changes, stemming largely from the concerns of the French-speaking majority about the conservation of their culture and language, given the traditional predominance of the English-Canadian minority in the business arena.

The October Crisis of 1970 and the 1976 provincial election of the Parti Québecois, supporting sovereign status for Quebec, resulted in the departure of many businesses and people from the city. In 1976, Montreal was the host of the Olympics. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Montreal experienced a slower rate of economic growth than many other major Canadian cities.

In the early 1980s Île-de-Montréal became the local "Territory Equivalent to a regional county municipality" instead of the county it had been previously. Regional county municipalities and Territories Equivalent are explained below.

Changes to local government after 2000

On January 1, 2002 Montreal was merged with the 27 surrounding municipalities on the Île-de-Montréal or Island of Montreal, creating a unified city covering the entire island. There was great resistance from some of the English-speaking suburbs to the merger which had been carried out by the French-speaking Parti Québécois. In June 2004 several formerly independent municipalities, totaling 13% of the population of the island, voted to leave the unified city in separate referendums. The demerger took place on January 1, 2006, leaving 15 municipalities on the island, including Montreal. De-merged municipalities remain affiliated with the city through an agglomeration council that collects taxes from them to pay for numerous shared services. The 2002 mergers were not the first in the city's history. Montreal had annexed 27 other cities, towns, and villages beginning with Hochelaga in 1883 and ending with Pointe-aux-Trembles in 1982.

Image:Montreal2001 75 halved.pngImage:Montreal2002 75 halved.pngImage:Montreal2006 75 halved.png
Montreal in 2001Montreal in 2002Montreal in 2006

Every attempt has been made in WeRelate to describe Montreal and its neighbouring communities in terms of its history up to the year 2000. After all, this is the era in which, for the most part, our ancestors lived. However, the historical narrative has been erased from the most easily accessible sources, especially for those of us who live at a distance. "Arondissements" and "boroughs" are descriptions of the 21st-century government; they do not relate to the situation of the centuries before.


  • Anjou
  • Beaconsfield
  • Baie-d'Urfé (spelled with lowercase "d" until then)
  • Côte Saint-Luc
  • Dollard-des-Ormeaux
  • Dorval
  • Hampstead
  • Kirkland
  • Lachine
  • LaSalle
  • L'Île-Bizard
  • L'Île-Dorval
  • Montréal-Est
  • Montreal North (Montréal-Nord)
  • Montreal West
  • Mount Royal (Mont-Royal)
  • Outremont
  • Pierrefonds
  • Pointe-Claire
  • Roxboro
  • Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
  • Sainte-Geneviève
  • Saint-Laurent
  • Saint-Léonard
  • Senneville
  • Verdun
  • Westmount

Municipalities listed in italics are now part of the city of Montreal, which is divided into 19 boroughs (arrondisements)

Research Tips

Maps and Gazetteers

  • Official Transport Quebec Road Map. From a province-wide map showing the administrative regions you can click to an overview of a region. Responding to the "cliquez" on this map brings up a standard road-map of the area which will blow up to readable magnification. The whole website is in French, but the only words you need are "cliquez" and the name of the administrative region.
  • Commission de toponymie Quebec--Quebec's data bank of official Québec place names, commonly known as "TOPOS sur le Web". The website is in French and paragraphs can be translated with Google Translate.

French names for places

Because French is the one official language of Québec, WeRelate employs the French names for places within the province. Many placenames will be similar to their counterparts in English, with the addition of accents and hyphens between the words. The words "Saint" and "Sainte" should be spelled out in full. Placenames should be made up of four parts: the community (or parish, or township, or canton), the historic county, Québec, Canada. You may find placenames red-linked unless you follow these conventions.

Local government structure

The Province of Québec was made up of counties and territories. Counties in Québec were established gradually as the land was settled by Europeans. Each county included communities with some form of local governement (often church-based). Territories referred to the undeveloped sections under the control of the government in charge of the whole province at the time. The communities included townships and/or cantons, depending on the English/French makeup of the county concerned, and also included ecclesiastical parishes with somewhat different boundaries which could overlap with local townships or cantons. Ecclesiastical parish registers have been retained and are available to view (online through Ancestry). Since the 1980s many small townships and parishes are merging into larger "municipalities", often with the same name as one of their components.

Beginning in 1979 the historic counties of Québec were replaced by administrative regions and regional county municipalities (abbreviated as RCM in English and MRC in French). Regional county municipalities are a supra-local type of regional municipality, and act as the local municipality in unorganized territories within their borders. (An unorganized area or unorganized territory is any geographic region in Canada that does not form part of a municipality or Indian reserve. There is a list in Wikipedia.) There are also 18 equivalent territories (TEs) which are not considered to be RCMs. These are mostly large cities with their suburbs, but include 4 very large geographical areas where the population is sparse.

The administrative regions (above the RCMs in the hierarchy) are illustrated on a map in Wikipedia. The regions are used to organize the delivery of provincial government services and there are conferences of elected officers in each region. The regions existed before the change from historic counties to regional county municipalities.

The above description is based on various articles in Wikipedia including one titled Types of municipalities in Quebec

NOTE: WeRelate refers to Québec communities as being within their historic counties because this is the description which will be found in historical documents. FamilySearch and Quebec GenWeb follow the same procedure. However, it is always wise to know the current RCM as well in order to track these documents down in local repositories and also to describe events which have taken place since 1980.

Because the former or historic counties and the modern regional county municipalities can have the same names but may cover a slightly different geographical area, the placenames for Regional County Municipalities or "Territories Equivalent to regional county municipalities" are distinguished by including the abbreviation "RCM" or "TE" following the name.

Historic counties (which were taken out of use in about 1982) were made up of townships or cantons. The two words are equivalent in English and French. Eventually all the Québec cantons in WeRelate will be described as townships. Many townships disappeared before 1980 with the growth of urbanization.

If the word parish is used, this is the local ecclesiastical parish of the Roman Catholic Church. Parish boundaries and township or canton boundaries were not always the same.

The WeRelate standard form for expressing a place in Québec is township/canton/parish, historic county, Québec, Canada,
or local municipality, administrative region, Québec, Canada for places established after the changes of the 1980s.


Censuses were taken throughout the 19th century in Quebec (or in Lower Canada or Canada West before 1867). Surprisingly most of them have been archived and have been placed online free of charge by the Government of Canada (both microfilmed images and transcriptions). All can be searched by name or browsed by electoral district. The contents vary. Those of 1825, 1831 and 1841 record only the householders by name, but remaining members of each household were counted by sex and by age range. From 1851 through 1921 each individual was named and described separately. The amount of information increased throughout the century, and in 1901 people were asked for their birthdate and the year of immigration to Canada. Unfortunately, enumerators were required only to record the birthplace province or country (if an immigrant). Specific birthplaces have to be discovered elsewhere.

The links below are to the introductory page for the specific census year. It is wise to read through this page first to see what will be provided on a specific census, and what will be lacking. Links to the records follow from these pages.

Other Sources

  • FamilySearch Wiki Information for the province and for indivdiual counties, and places within counties.
  • The Drouin Collection: explaining its history and purpose in a FamilySearch Wiki article
  • The Drouin Collection provided by and (pay websites).
  • Genealogy Quebec in French, the website of the Drouin Institute. (also a pay website) with more databases than are on Ancestry.
  • Quebec GenWeb (English version--for the most part)
  • The Quebec Familiy History Society is the largest English-language genealogical society in Quebec. Most of their services are members only, but their Bulletin Board has useful tips for everyone. These may change from time to time.
  • The CanGenealogy page for Quebec. An overview of available online sources with links written by Canadian genealogist Dave Obee.
  • La Mémoire du Québec online. Édition 2017. "Le dictionnaire des noms propres du Québec." In other words, an up-to-date gazetteer of places in Québec organized as a wiki. Each entry is a timeline.
  • Eastern Townships of Quebec Connector. A blogpost with links to many websites dealing with Quebec genealogy, particularly for those who don't speak French well. All parts of Quebec are mentioned.
  • Google "translate French to English" for those words and phrases you can't quite remember from schooldays.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Montreal. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Province of Quebec (1763–1791). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.