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A Decade In Review: The Events That Forever Changed Montreal In The 2010s

From politics, music festivals, and sports, these are the moments that defined the decade.
Montreal History: The Events That Forever Changed The City In The 2010s
  • This is just an outline of the events that forever altered the course of Montreal history.
  • From student protests to big anniversaries to the election of Valérie Plante, these were the moments that defined the 2010s and that will shape the decade to come.

It's been an eventful 10 years in Montreal, hasn't it? From protests to music festivals to political movements and construction scandals, Montreal has been the epicentre of incredible events that shook the city's culture all decade long. Looking back, there are far too many events to keep track of and too few words to adequately describe them! We'll do our best! From the shocking to the beautiful, Quebec's metropolis has seen a lot of action in the past 10 years. Without a doubt, the events of this decade have forever shaped Montreal's history.

What are your favourite Montreal moments from this decade With another on the horizon, we can look forward to another 10 years of incredible, shocking, and hilarious Montreal moments. 

It's hard to put into words but the love I personally have for this city is bar-none. I'm blessed to live here and to work this job that allows me to always talk about it. 

MTL Blog will be right here with you all, through the good, the bad, and the even the ugly. Cheers to 2020!

Montreal's 375th Birthday

In 2017, Montreal celebrated its 375th anniversary. There was a whole lot to celebrate. Festivities were ongoing throughout the year and featured everything from the opening of a new Ferris wheel in the Old Port, an urban rodeo, and even a Formula-E race.

Former mayor Denis Coderre planned countless more attractions, intending them to be yearly events, but many never returned to the city. Montreal375 is fondly remembered by tourists and locals alike, despite some silly situations.

Construction, Corruption & the Charbonneau Commission

The Charbonneau Commission was a public inquiry into corruption and contract rigging in Montreal's construction industry. The Commission began in October 2011 and dominated headlines for years.

Its revelations were astounding. Witness testimonies revealed a systemic network of bid-rigging and bribery within Montreal's construction companies, where firms would obtain public contracts in exchange for political donations.

What was called "the biggest corruption fraud in Canadian history" caused a long-time Montreal mayor to resign and saw a Montreal and Laval mayor arrested for fraud and conspiracy. As of 2018, Quebec's Unité permanente anti-corruption has convicted 114 people related to the Commission.

Printemps Érable

Who can ever forget 2012s historic student protests in Montreal? The Printemps Érable saw close to half of Quebec's student population protest against a proposed tuition hike, which would've raised university tuition from $2,168 to $3,793 per semester over 7 years.

Protests lasted throughout the year and eventually died down, but the resulting displeasure with the Liberal government at the time saw the Parti Québécois get elected on a promise to halt the tuition hikes — a promise they kept.

2012 wasn't the last time students took to the streets. The "Maple Spring" perhaps inspired the 2015 student protests against austerity measures.

Festival City

Most of Montreal's large festivals like the Jazz Fest and Just for Laughs have been around for decades. Newer festivals like Osheaga and Piknic Electronique since the mid-aughts.

The fact that Montreal is a festival town isn't a new thing, but this decade saw festival culture reach a fever pitch. And it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. Historic attendance numbers and seeing big-name artists are now regular things at Montreal's numerous festivals.


Montreal's own Justin Trudeau won his first campaign for Prime Minister of Canada in 2015. Trudeaumania swept the globe and the world fell in love with the charming politician who calls Montreal home.

Since then, the shine has kinda worn off Justin Trudeau after recent controversies like a blackface photo and his involvement in the SNC-Lavalin Affair.

Though his popularity is at an all-time low, Trudeaumania was a real thing this decade and it helped him win a second term (though now with a minority government) in 2019.

Traffic Nightmare On Turcot

In 2012, work began to completely overhaul the Turcot Interchange and since then, Montrealers have been at the mercy of constant traffic around the area.

Work was supposed to be done in summer 2019 and last time I checked...yep, I'm still stuck in traffic. If anything has defined Montreal this decade, it's traffic on the Turcot.

Though the worst of it is over, the project has been delayed until the end of 2020. I believe the Turcot is the only thing from this decade that'll carry over into the next...

Valérie Plante Wins Big

Valérie Plante made history in 2017 by becoming the first woman elected as Mayor of Montreal.

If the early 2010s were defined by the old-school mayors getting ousted for corruption scandals, the late 2010s were defined by forward-thinking mayors who've brought fresh perspectives to the city.

The Habs Turn 100

In 2009, the Montreal Canadiens celebrated their 100th anniversary with a series of commemorative events. As part of the celebrations, the NHL All-Star Game and the NHL Entry Draft were hosted at the Bell Centre.

The oldest team in NHL history hasn't been that great this decade, all things considered, but they did almost make the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.


The whole world remembers the infamous 'Pastagate' incident in 2013. An officer from the Office de la Langue Française visited Montreal restaurant Buonanotte and told the owner that he had to change the Italian words on the menu like 'pasta' to a French equivalent.

'Pastagate' defined a decade of debate about language law implementation and tensions between French and English language groups as Montreal discusses how best to protect the French language amid rapid globalization.

A Grisly Murder Shocks The World

In 2012, a horrible murder occurred in Montreal that was broadcast to the entire world. Luka Magnotta committed heinous acts on a student named Lin Jun.

Magnotta dismembered Jun's body on camera and then mailed parts of him to Conservative and Liberal Party headquarters and various schools around Canada.

The incident put Montreal on the map in the worst way possible.

If I Were Green I Would Die

Summer 2019 will go down in history as the summer Montreal finally moved forward with the long-awaited Blue Line metro extension. Prime Minister Trudeau announced that his government would pony up over $1-billion to get the work done by 2026.

If there's one thing that's defined the latter half of this decade in Montreal, it's public transit. Who can forget the Pink Line plans and the tramway discussions? Plus, the Azur trains made their debut in the metro.

This was also the decade that the Réseau Express Métropolitain began construction. By 2023, the new rapid transit line will connect the North and South Shores, West Island, and downtown.

And, though the OPUS was technically introduced in late 2008, it underscored our city's commitment to providing efficient service all in one package.

Whether dangling from a lanyard or slipped into your wallet, the OPUS was one of Montreal's hottest accessories of the decade.

Everybody Must Get Stoned

Everyone was getting stoned regardless, but Canada's Cannabis Act came into effect in October 2018, making our country one of the few in the world to legalize the devil's lettuce. In Montreal, we kinda went a little wild in the first few days and stores actually ran out of weed.

Today, the smell of weed permeates the air more than ever before and people are just a little more chill than usual.

Chartre des Valeurs

Before Bill 21, there was the Parti Québécois's Chartre des Valeurs. The proposal would've required all public and state sector employees to hide all visible religious symbols.

Where the Bill was most insidious is that it seemed to specifically target the province's growing Muslim population. The public and the media decried the Charter as racist and xenophobic and the proposal was cancelled in 2014.

Sound familiar? One thing that defined politics not only in Montreal but in the whole province this decade was a hardline towards secularism and sometimes blatant Islamophobia. Unfortunately for everyone, that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

So Long, Marianne

One of the most iconic Montrealers ever, Leonard Cohen, passed away in 2016. The whole world mourned his passing and since then, Montreal has paid countless tributes to a legend who arguably was one of the city's first international superstars.

Montreal will never forget Leonard Cohen.

A New Bridge

Last decade, we all witnessed the old Champlain bridge slowly falling apart in front of our eyes. Worried about a potential disaster in the making, the governments of Quebec and Canada promised us a new bridge in 2011.

It was a long process, but dammit, they actually finished it (relatively) on time! Hopefully, it can last the promised 125 years.

Ariel, Où-Est Tu?

Our community was shocked and saddened by the mysterious disappearance of 10-year-old Ariel Kouakou in 2018. One year later, there's still no trace of the young boy who vanished from his Ahuntsic neighbourhood.

The action to find the boy was not as extensive as one would hope, especially from city authorities. Teams of volunteers tried to help in any way they could. To this day, Kouakou's mysterious disappearance has us reflecting on how we can do better to find missing children.

Half A Million Strong

September 2019 saw the largest-ever protest in Montreal history. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg visited our city and mobilized 500,000 people to march against climate change. The event was an unprecedented success and made international headlines.

Large scale protests against tuition hikes, climate change, and anti-police brutality became a summer norm in Montreal this decade. They perfectly encapsulated the tumultuous political energy of our city's youth.

The Rent Is Too Damn High

You might envy me, but I remember a time when you could rent a huge St-Henri apartment for less than $650 a month.

This decade in Montreal saw rampant gentrification in working-class neighbourhoods like St-Henri, Verdun, and Hochelaga. In 2011, some close to 12,000 condo projects were initiated in and around the city. The average rent in the city rose astronomically throughout the decade and will continue to rise every single year.

Bill 21

What started as the Charter of Values became Bill 21 after the CAQ rose to power in a sweeping election victory. While it's a little less heavy-handed than the PQ's Charter, Bill 21 still bans visible religious symbols for public servants in positions of authority.

The passage of the Bill reverberated throughout the country and became a hot topic during the 2019 federal election.

Unlike the Charter, Bill 21 is (mostly) uncontested in the National Assembly. The law will fully come into effect in 2020 and hopefully, the next decade isn't totally defined by its consequences.

The Orange Cone

A Montreal decade in review list wouldn't be complete without mentioning our city's most present and frustrating symbol: the orange cone.

Love them or hate them, they've been there every step of the way, a constant reminder that the city is always under construction.

We look forward to following the trends and developments in the decade to come!

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