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6 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Montreal

Like what our flag actually means.
6 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Montreal

Montreal can sometimes feel a little bit isolated. With our strange duality of origins and multiplicity of languages, we are a city unto ourselves. We are cool and unique and sometimes a big player on the world stage.

Here's six things you might not know about Montreal.

1. We gave the world John Lennon and Yoko Ono's second bed-in

What they started in Amsterdam as a honeymoon continued in Montreal's Queen Elizabeth hotel for a week. While in Montreal the couple were filmed extensively and even recorded music directly (most notably "Give Peace A Chance") from their hotel rooms.

2. Montreal's city flag celebrates four heritages

The interactions between Anglo and Franco culture and language can sometimes get complicated in this province. Our city in general though is a standard bearer for how many cultures can coexist and strengthen each other and our flag illustrates this well. Montreal's flag features four emblems: the fleur-de-lys, the thistle, the rose and the shamrock. Respectively, these represent the French, Scottish, English and Irish immigrants who originally founded and built up the city we love today.

3. Our sister city is Hiroshima

Peace seems to be a powerful force in and for Montreal. The partnership established with Hiroshima in 1998 was based on the idea that both would "promote the development of both cities, foster mutual understanding and friendship between citizens, and contribute to a lasting world peace through a broad range of exchanges." While not many people are aware of the partnership, it is a fairly recent linking of cities divided by a huge distance. It will be interesting to see how the union is celebrated in the future.

Photo Cred - AliceInWonderland

4. We are the second largest French speaking city in the world

Only Paris has a larger Francophone population than Montreal. Up to forty countries around the world use French commonly (most of them former French colonies). And yet, we are second in line for the crown.

Photo Cred - SpeakeasyAthens

5. We were once a major player in illegal alcohol distribution

When the US enacted prohibition laws in the 1920's, Montreal became an export hub for black market liquor. Our specialty was whiskey. Montreal businessmen, particularly Samuel Bronfman, capitalized by selling what they could legally manufacture in Canada to distributors in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Thanks to Montreal, the Eastern US didn't go completely dry.

Photo Cred - Pascy Messier

6. No building can eclipse the cross on Mount Royal

The city doesn't allow skyscrapers that would tower over the mountain and its famous cross. These laws were put in place in order to maintain green space and the aesthetic look of the mountain. It's even part of the city's Master Plan: "In keeping with established practice, no building may exceed the height of the Mountain’s summit (232.5 metres above sea level)." The result so far is a beautiful skyline.

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