Do You Really Live In Montreal? This Map Shows All The Confusing Definitions Of 'Montreal'

City? Island? Agglomeration? Community? What gives?

Senior Editor
Map by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal. Right: Aerial view of downtown Montreal and the Saint Lawrence River.

Map by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal. Right: Aerial view of downtown Montreal and the Saint Lawrence River.

City of Montreal. Island of Montreal. Agglomeration of Montreal. Montreal metropolitan community. All called Montreal. Not all the same thing.

A diagram and map of Montreal by local researcher Raymundo Cassani illustrate all the official definitions that divide the urban area.

In a post to his blog, CastorisCausa, Cassani explains the distinctions.

First, there's the City of Montreal, the collection of 19 boroughs whose residents elect the Montreal City Council and mayor. The City of Montreal isn't entirely on Montreal Island, however, nor is all of Montreal Island part of the City of Montreal.

The city also includes Île-Bizard to the northwest and Île-des-Sœurs to the southeast, as well as Île-Sainte-Hélène and Île-Notre-Dame, which comprise the municipal Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Montreal Island is host to 14 municipalities in addition to the City of Montreal: Baie-d'Urfé, Beaconsfield, Côte-Saint-Luc, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, Hampstead, Kirkland, Montréal-Est, Montréal-Ouest, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Senneville, the Town of Mount Royal, and Westmount.

These municipalities, now independent, were for a few years part of the City of Montreal after a 2002 merger. They're now referred to as the on-island suburbs or the villes liées.

Diagram by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal.Diagram by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal.Raymundo Cassani | CastorisCausa

The demerged cities and towns now form part of the Agglomeration of Montreal and so does the Town of Dorval Island, which also became part of the City of Montreal in 2002, but is neither part of the municipality of Dorval nor, obviously, on Montreal Island.

The distinction between the Agglomeration and the City of Montreal gives us the amusing case of the Town of Mount Royal, which despite its name and proximity to Mount Royal, is no longer part of the City of Montreal but is part of the Agglomeration of Montreal.

The same goes for Montréal-Ouest and Montréal-Est (which, because of the current municipal divisions on the Island of Montreal, aren't even farther west and east, respectively, than the westernmost and easternmost points of the City of Montreal).

Now looking beyond the Island of Montreal and the smaller islands surrounding it, there's the Montreal Metropolitan Community, Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), an association of 82 municipalities surrounding (or in some cases, surrounded by) the City of Montreal, including Dorval Island and the on-island suburbs, that aims, as Cassani put it on CastorisCausa, "to promote the intermunicipal collaboration to improve the development of the region in diverse aspects: economy, society, public transportation, environment, etc."

Map by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal.Map by Raymundo Cassani illustrating the different official definitions of Montreal.Raymundo Cassani | CastorisCausa

The last definition Cassani illustrates in his map and diagram is the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), a designation used by Statistics Canada. It includes municipalities that are not part of the CMM. The CMM also includes municipalities that are not part of the CMA.

Cassani goes into more detail about the history of these terms and their practical applications.

There are, anecdotally, lifelong Montreal residents who often fumble these definitions, so we hope this clears everything up. (There are also lifelong Montreal residents who can't distinguish between a neighbourhood, borough, and on-island municipality, but that's a different story).

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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