On 17 May 1642, a group of French settlers led by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance established the missionary colony of Ville-Marie on the Island of Montréal. Today, this modest settlement founded in the middle of the St. Lawrence River is Canada’s second largest city and home to nearly half of the province of Québec’s population. A centre of francophone culture in North America, Montréal also enjoys international renown. Through exhibits, images and articles — as well as several Heritage Minutes about influential Montrealers — this collection celebrates the 375-year heritage and history of this important cultural and economic centre.
Old Montreal is the historic district of the city of Montreal, located in the south-central part of Montreal Island and bounded by the St. Lawrence River to the south, Saint-Antoine Street to the north, McGill Street to the west and Saint-Hubert Street to the east. In the second half of the 20th century, this area came under pressure from urban change, as business and port activity shifted elsewhere, depriving Old Montreal of its historic roles. But in the 1960s, a long process began that completely transformed it into a heritage district (it was at this time that the name Old Montreal came into common use). The designation of the Arrondissement historique de Montréal by the Quebec government in 1964 marked an important step in this transformation. With massive investments from the three levels of government, as well as from businesses and individuals, a lengthy rehabilitation effort began. Nearly 60 years later, visitors can now follow the traces of Montreal’s history back to pre-colonial times, and the changes that the city has undergone since the first European settlers arrived in 1642.
Québec City, Québec, founded in 1608, population 531,902 (2016 c), 516,576 (2011 c). Québec City, the capital of the province of Québec, is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River where it meets the Rivière Saint-Charles. Here, the St. Lawrence narrows to a width of just over 1 km, and navigation is made difficult by a group of islands, the largest of which is Île d'Orléans. Cap-Diamant, a promontory with an elevation of 98 m, dominates the site and was used effectively as a fortification, earning Québec City the name "Gibraltar of North America." The name "Québec" is probably derived from an Algonquian word meaning "narrowing of the river."
Montreal, Quebec, incorporated as a city in 1832, population 1,704,694 (2016 c), 1,649,519 (2011 c). Montreal is Canada’s second largest city and is home to nearly half of the province of Quebec’s population. It is the metropolis of the province and was the most populous city in Canada for a century and a half. It is located in southwestern Quebec on Île de Montreal at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Montreal is a major industrial centre, commercial and financial metropolis, railway and maritime bridgehead, and one of the centres of francophone culture in North America. It is one of the world's great cities and enjoys international acclaim.
In 1673, in order to develop the young colony of New France, Governor Louis de Buade de Frontenac gave large concessions of land to administrators, priests and high-ranking soldiers who became seigneurs. The seigneurie des Mille-Îles was created north of the river that bears the same name.