The initiation of the city of Montreal goes back in history to the time Jacques Cartier who had set ship from France, came across the island in 1535. During this period it was a fortified native Indian village named Hochelaga. As part of the geology was elevated with a mountain, Cartier decided to call it Mount Royal. In 1542, Europeans started to settle there, and a hundred years later the Mount Royal region desigated to be the city was called Ville Marie and ordained in the Maissoneuve era. The English captured the region in 1760, and since that time it has grown and developed at an incredible pace to become Canada's main commercial city, and the biggest city within the Dominion.
The founder of New France, Samuel de Champlain, set up a trading post in Montreal in 1609, and in 1635, Monsieur de Montmagny became the ruler of New France at the time of Champlain's death, and in1642, Monsieur de Maisonneuve (Paul de Chomedey), set up Montreal's first proper colony. Yet the needs of the colony of Montreal were neglected, and this delayed its economic success. Religion however, became very strong, and a few institutions were established by nuns from France. Montreal was fortified and populated even more in order to repress native Indian Iroquoi onslaughts and facilitate the Christian conversion of Indians. The latter was carried out by the founding missionaries, and in 1640, a company was designated solely for this purpose. It was decided that three religious communities should be set up in Montreal: “one of priests of convert the Indians, one of nuns to nurse the sick, and one of nuns to teach the children of the Indians and of the colonists”.
The early settlers in Montreal had a very difficult life, and during Ville-Marie's first winter, a massive flood virtually destroyed the entire area. But the inhabitants survived, and a wooden crucifix was installed at the peak of Mont-Royal by Maisonneuve, who wanted to give God thanks. These days, there is a massive steel cross in its place which serves as a historical reminder of the first citizen's of the city. While there was perpetual fighting with the Iroquois, and the winters proved very harsh, the settlers persisted, and new ones joined them after being enticed by the growing fur trading. Furthermore, Montreal proved to be an excellent center for transport and communications.
In regard to the tense fighting between the Iroquois and the French colonists, after sixty years, in 1701, a pact was agreed, and finally there was peace. During the period of 1700 to 1750, life in Montreal was influenced by an incessant war between the English and French. In 1759, when the city of Quebec submitted to General Wolfe, the French decided to change New France's capital to Montreal, and the latter conceded to the British in September 1760. At the time, the population of Montreal comprised 5,000 people, most of whom were French. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, and this officially represented the beginning of British rule, and the expiry of the French authorities.
Although the war had come to a close, it was inevitable that for the following two hundred years, the conflict between the Francophone and Anglo civilizations would determine Montreal's dynamics. The latter was mired in political unrest, and in 1774, Americans tried to turn this to their advantage. In 1775, US troops were led into the city by General Montgomery. They remained there as occupiers for seven months, and only left following a Quebec City defeat in which a robust British fleet entered the St Lawrence. The 1812 war saw Montreal invaded by American soldiers once again, however, this was brought to a halt. By the start of the 19th Century, Montreal took its place as the main commercial municipality of Canada. The port at Montreal played a crucial role for the rest of the country, and functioned as the funnel via which the entire nation could link up to the Old World.
During the first part of the 20th Century, the inhabitants of Montreal enjoyed an era of expansionism and prosperity. However, when the Great War arrived, the hostilities announced by England instantaneously drove Canada into the battle. Montreal became notorious as a North American Paris between WW1 and WW2, and the US prohibition laws which prevailed over a large part of Canada, were overturned in Quebec. The happy lifestyle which Montreal projected attracted huge numbers of US tourists, and the nightlife and liquor trade skyrocketed; however, the good times were seriously stifled by the arrival of the Depression, and WW2 brought both shortages and hardships to the city's population.
Prosperity was however, restored to Montreal straight after the war, yet some regions of the city were poor, and the local government was generally regarded as dishonest. When 1954 arrived, Jean Drapeau was elected major, and this represented the beginning of an energetic crusade to make Montreal one of the most cosmopolitan modern cities.
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