Every once in a while, your smart aleck friend will be spouting out their usual verbal mess of factoids, and while you're trying to ignore their obvious attempt to sound smart, one bit of info hits your ears that makes you go "no way dude, that's bullsh*t."
The thing is, you have no clue if said fact is actually false, it just sounds kind of ridiculous, and so you stay quiet even though you could have lost the chance to make your smarter-than-thou friend seem like a tool.
We've all been there, and sometimes it doesn't work out, and you look like a turd for calling out someone on what is actually the truth. So, to ensure this doesn't happen to you, at least when encountering a conversation pertaining to Montreal, we've assembled some bullsh*t sounding facts that actually are true, which you can read below.
1. Montreal Was One Of The Most Important Heroin Ports In North America
Back in the 1950s, the dominant crime families of Montreal, with some help from those in New York, used Montreal as an entry point for heroin and many other drugs. All the imported "goods" were then smuggled to NYC and other major metropolises throughout North America. Get more info on Montreal's mafia history here.
2. Most Of Île Sainte-Hélène Is Made From Land Found In The Metro Tunnels
When the city of Montreal started planning the logistics for Expo '67, they realized the city itself couldn't house the World's Fair, as their simply wasn't enough room.
Getting a bit creative with a solution, the city essentially took all the land that was being excavated for the STM metro network and used it to expand Île Sainte-Hélène to the current land mass it has today. Île Notre-Dame, adjacent to St. Helen's, was built entirely from scratch.
3. There Was Once A Three-Hour Long UFO Sighting In Downtown Montreal
Otherwise known as the "Place Bonaventure Incident," this particularly hard-to-believe event occurred on the eve of November 7th, 1990. A woman on the rooftop pool of Place Bonaventure Hotel reported seeing a circular object in the sky that was shooting beams of light.
All sorts of officials were called in (including NASA scientists) for the alleged UFO sighting, which lasted almost a full three hours, from 7:20pm to 10:10pm.
4. Montrealers Had Over 1500 Slaves When Slavery Was Legal In The City
Many believe Canada as a haven for freedom, but remember slavery wasn't abolished in Canada until August, 1833, and since Montreal was founded in 1642, that accounts for about 200 years in which slavery was active and legal in the city.
According to a Concordia Masters student Gregory Coulter, who is researching slavery in Quebec, more than 1500 slaves were owned in Montreal's history. 1007 were indigenous slaves and 517 were African slaves, though many more could have been unrecorded.
For an interesting look into slavery in Montreal, check out these ads for slaves from the Montreal Gazette here.
5. Montreal Has Its Own "Museum Of The Absurd"
Catering to all who enjoy the absurdities of history, Le musée de l'absurde is a dynamic and constantly changing collection that showcases all the weirdness of mass media.
If you're interested in visiting Le musée de l'absurde, note that the exhibit doesn't have a set location. Be sure to head to the official Facebook page to see when and where their next pop-up museum will be.
6. Montreal's Underground City Is NOT The World's Largest Subterranean Shopping Complex
Technically, this is all about the wording.
While Montreal's underground city is the largest underground city network in the world, it is not the largest subterranean shopping complex. That title goes to Toronto's PATH network, which houses a full 4 million square feet of retail space.
7. Montreal Shares The Same Latitude As Venice, Italy
With a latitude of 45°N, Montreal lines up with not only Venice, but also Milan, Zagreb in Croatia, and Queenstown in New Zealand is at the opposite end of the poles with a 45°s latitude*.
*Edit: Bold added after the post was published. Thanks for keeping us on our toes
8. Montreal's Metro Network Has No Heating System
Walking into Guy-Concordia station during the winter may make this claim seem extra bullsh*t, but it's true.
Not counting ticket booths and certain STM staff areas, the entirety of the underground metro network is heated entirely by the movement of the trains, heat received from nearby and connected buildings, and from the body heat of passengers.
9. Montreal Was The Third Choice For John Lennon & Yoko-Ono's Infamous "Bed In"
We all like to think Montreal was the first choice for the music history event that saw the creation of "Give Peace a Chance," but in truth, Montreal was actually third.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono originally planned to head to New York for the peaceful protest against the Vietnam war, but couldn't get in because Lennon had a recent cannabis conviction. The Bahamas was the next option, a locale quickly cast aside because of the intense heat.
So, as the third option, Montreal won out, and the infamous duo headed to Queen Elizabeth Hotel on May 26th of 1969, and held their week-long Bed In For Peace.
10. There's An Official Limit To How Tall Buildings Can Be In Montreal
If you've ever wondered why Montreal doesn't have giant skyscrapers like other cities, the answer is pretty simple, the city just doesn't allow it. Limits on height are placed upon every building in Montreal, with no building allowed to be higher than Mount Royal. In the downtown area, buildings can't exceed 120 metres in height, with 223 metres being the city-wide limit.
Only two buildings actually reach the city's height-limit, namely 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque. Some believe 1250 René-Lévesque to actually be taller than 1000 de La Gauchetière, but in actuality it's shorter and is just built on higher ground.
11. Mount Royal Park & New York City's Central Park Were Designed By The Same Guy
Frederick Law Olmsted is the man in question, famous for being the architect behind NYC's Central Park and many others across North America, including Mount Royal Park.
12. Montreal Has Its Own Horror Movie School
Officially titles the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, the oddly specific genre film school has been operating for quite a while, and is open to the entire Montreal community. Two semesters are held every year, with courses including topics like zombies in horror films, reality horror, and Shakespeare in horror.
To learn more about Montreal's horror movie school, and even to enroll, check out our feature here.
13. There's A Law In Montreal Where You Can't Drive A Car With A "For Sale" Sign On It
For whatever reason, there's an official city ordinance which prohibits any moving vehicle from having a for sale sign up on the window, or visible at all. If the car is parked/immobile, the for sale sign is all good.
Not quite certain why this rule exists, but it's probably because the sign itself is a potential distraction to others on the road.
14. The Cross Is Only On Mount Royal Because Some Guy Made A Deal With Heaven
When flooding was threatening the newly found settlement of Ville-Marie (what is now Montreal) in late 1642, Paul de Chomedey got a little desperate. Fearing for the lives of all those in the settlement, Montreal's founder beseeched the Virgin Mary in heaven to stop the flooding, and in exchange he would erect a cross on the top of Mount Royal.
Whatever flooding plagued Ville-Marie stopped, and so de Chomedey climbed to the top of Mount Royal in January of 1643, wooden cross in tow, and marked the mountain with the iconic religious symbol we still see today.
And yes, I am aware Paul de Chomedey is not just "some guy," his name is just a tad too long for a snappy subtitle.