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Centuries of History
Before the Founding
A Fortified Town
The Bourgeois Centre of the City
A New Victorian Showcase
The Heart of the Metropolis
The Historic City Centre


May 1642. A group of French settlers, men and women both, founded Montréal on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, on a tip of land that is now part of Old Montréalů

Old Montréal / The Ancienne-Douane
Pierre McCann, La Presse

This little 17th-century French settlement, initially baptized Ville-Marie, would grow and change quickly. The site of Old Montréal would become...

.... a fortified town in the 18th century, under French control up until 1760, and then British. And thenů

... the bourgeois centre of the city in the early 19th century, as Montréal took the spotlight as the political and commercial hub of Upper and Lower Canada. And thenů

... a Victorian showcase in the 19th century, in a Montréal undergoing changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. And thenů

... the heart of the metropolis in the early 20th century, symbolized by the head offices of banks on St. James Street. And nowů

... the historic city centre, the old centre of Montréal, still thriving thanks to projects highlighting its heritage value since the 1960s.

But while the urban history of Old Montréal began in the 17th century, its human history has its roots long before the settlement was founded...


Before the Founding

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Old Montréal

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Last updated: April 2000