History of MontrealIroquois fort, Hochelaga, was already on the island when Jacques Cartier arrived on October 2, 1535. Samuel de Champlain visited again in 1603, but the French did not settle until 1642, when a group of priests, nuns, and colonists under Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded the village of Ville-Marie on May 17 of that year. One of the members of this group of settlers was Jeanne Mance, who, in 1644, founded the Hôtel-Dieu, the first hospital in North America.
The village grew and became an important centre of the fur trade. It was the jumping-off point for the French exploration of the interior by such explorers as Jolliet, La Salle, La Vérendrye, and Duluth.
The city remained populated by a majority of Francophones until around the 1830s. From the 1830s, to about 1865, it was inhabited by a majority of Anglophones, most of recent immigration from the British Iles or other parts of British North America.
The city's growth was spurred by the opening of the Lachine Canal, which permitted ships to pass by the unnavigable Lachine Rapids south of the island. Montreal was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849. In 1852, Montreal had 58,000 inhabitants.
From 1861 to the Great Depression of 1930, Montreal went through what some historians call its golden age. What is today Old-Montreal was then the most important economic center of the Dominion of Canada.
With the annexation of neighbouring towns, Montreal became a mostly Francophone city again by the end of the 19th century. The tradition to alternate between a francophone and an anglophone mayor began and lasted until 1914.
As of January 1, 2002, the entire island of Montreal, home to 1.8 million people, as well as the several outlying islands that were also part of the Montreal Urban Community, were merged into a new "megacity". Some 27 suburbs as well as the former city were folded into several boroughs, named after their former cities or (in the case of parts of the former Montreal) districts.
Origin of the name
It is not certain how the name changed from Mont Royal to Mont Réal. In 1556, Italian geographer G.B. Ramusio translated Mont Royal to Monte Reale in a map. In 1575, François de Belleforest became the first to write Montreal, writing:
- ... au milieu de la compaigne est le village, ou Cité royale iointe à vne montaigne cultivée, laquelle ville les Chrestiens appellerent Montreal..
- "In the middle of the field is the village or royal colony near a cultivated mountain. Christians call this town Montreal."
In the modern Iroquois language, Montreal is called Tiohtià:ke. Other native languages, such as Algonquin, refer to it as Moniang.