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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

The Historic City Centre

After the Second World War, property developers turned their attention to the new downtown, neglecting Old Montréal. A few new buildings went up, nonetheless, including a tower in Place d'Armes in 1965.

One fortunate consequence of Old Montréal's relative decline was a growing awareness of its importance. In 1964, Old Montréal was declared a historic district.
  Bonsecours Street, circa 1950
Bonsecours Street, by Armour Landry [circa 1950].
Montréal qui disparaît, Clayton Gray,
Librairie J.-A. Pony, 1952

The rediscovery of Old Montréal

The 1960s breathed new life into Old Montréal, as astute renovators and artists lovingly restored beautiful old homes. Bonsecours Market was rejuvenated. Place Jacques Cartier was given a facelift for Expo 67. Since then, and even more since the late 1970s, major public- and private-sector investment has helped highlight the heritage value of the historic city centre and the Old Port.

Restauration of the Papineau house

The Papineau house, restored by Eric McLean in 1964.

A thoroughly modern historic city centre

Old Montréal is more alive than ever, with more than 2,000 households and upwards of 35,000 people working there in design, business and trade, and municipal and legal institutions. Every year, millions of Montrealers and tourists come to enjoy the charms of the old city's meandering streets and sunny squares, fascinating museums and alluring shops, excellent restaurants and the "new" Old Port.

Montage : The Historic City Centre
Montage : Denis Tremblay, 1999

Old Montréal today is a historic mosaic set atop 17th-century foundations, boasting a diversity found in very few other places in North America.



Old Montréal view
Pierre McCann, La Presse
Old Montréal, film location
Old Montréal is one of the most popular film locations in North America.
Bureau du Cinéma (Ville de Montréal).
Some key events


Bonsecours Market, whose merchants reached all the way out to Place Jacques Cartier, was closed.


The Papineau house, on Bonsecours Street, was restored. This was a first.


Old Montréal was declared a historic district.
1965 Bonsecours Market was renovated, to house municipal offices.
1966 Place Jacques Cartier was given a facelift for Expo '67.
1967 General de Gaulle utters his famous "Vive le Québec libre!" from the balcony at City Hall.
1968 Warehouses in Place d'Youville are converted for new uses. A first.
1979 A first municipal-provincial agreement was signed to develop the district.
1979 Work began on recycling Cours Le Royer, a large Victorian development. This was a crucial project.
1991 Champ-de-Mars was redeveloped; the bases of the fortifications reappeared.
1992 To mark the city's 350th birthday, the "new Old Port" and the Centre d'histoire de Montréal get facelifts. Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, was opened, celebrating the birthplace of Montréal.
1995 The historic district was enlarged to include the entire old city centre.
1996 Bonsecours Market was re-opened to the public. Back to its beginnings! Special lights were installed, to highlight the beauties of Old Montréal.
1997 Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel was restored and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys museum was opened.
1998-1999 Many public developments appeared, with their very modern designs nonetheless paying tribute to the past.
2000 New 18th-century-style gardens at Château Ramezay.

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Old Montréal

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Last updated: April 2000