- It is no question that in our 375 years, Montreal has seen some shit.
- The good, bad, ugly and beautiful all made our city what it is today.
- Take a look at these 12 historic moments in Montreal history that helped shape our city.
If the streets of Montreal could talk, I am sure they would have a lot to say. Throughout its existence, Montreal has surely seen its fair share of notable events.
So many incredible and historic moments have gone on throughout our city, but not all of us locals know about each of these specific moments. Montreal has always been a city filled with life and energy, which is one of the many reasons why it is so loved by the masses.
Throughout the 20th century, so many important moments were had in Montreal. From famous weddings, to sports victories as well as some tragic moments, all these moments, both good and bad have taken part in creating the tapestry that is Montreal.
Each of these events has helped our city become what it is today, and the memories shared by those locals who took part in these moments is part of what makes Montreal such a fabulous place to live.
This little walk through memory lane will demonstrate some of the most memorable and historic events to go down in the 514 during the 20th century.
Celine Dion says, "I do"
Celine Dion is probably the most famous person to come out of our province. Her effortless talent has won over the hearts of not only Montreal locals but citizens from around the globe who flock to see her perform.
Celine is one of the greatest talents the world has ever seen and it was an honour for her to have her wedding here in Montreal.
Celine Dion got married at The Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal in 1994. In 2016, her husband Rene Angelil’s funeral was held at the same church.
Les Canadiens win their first Stanley Cup
Montreal is fanatical when it comes to hockey and their love for the Habs. In 1916, the Montreal Canadians brought home their first-ever Stanley Cup and it is safe to say that the city went a little crazy.
Although the Habs have won a total of 24 Stanley Cups throughout their existence, the first time is still the most memorable of them all.
There is something about your first that you never forget.
Jackie Robinson plays in Montreal
Jackie Robinson is one of the most legendary baseball players to ever live.
Known as the first black player in the MLB in 1947, this history-maker has a major connection to our city.
You may have noticed a mural of Robinson on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and the reason for that is because Robinson played for the Montreal Royals in 1946.
Montreal embraced Jackie Robinson before the world did, which is something you may not have known about our city!
1972 Canada-USSR Summit Series
The series between Canada and USSR is a historic moment in hockey that will be spoken about forever.
This was an eight-game series of competition that was held in 1972. The intention of the series was to create a “best-on-best” competition between NHL players.
Game one took place in Montreal and it is safe to say hockey lovers throughout our city flocked to watch this history unfold before them. Canada ended up winning the series in the final game.
In 1967, the general exhibition called Expo '67 took hold of Montreal from April 27th until October 29th.
This is still considered to be the most successful World’s Fair throughout the 20th century. It was the most attended fair to date, with 62 participating nations, and it was one of the most incredible and influential things to go on in our city.
I really hope this experience can one day find a place in our city again, but chances are, this was a one-time deal.
The Montreal Expos get relocated
The Montreal Expos had a home in our city from 1968 until 2004. On September 29th, 2004, the MLB announced that the franchise would be relocated to Washington, D.C. for the 2005 season and those thereafter.
Later that night, the team played their final game and sadly lost 9-1. Nearly 32,000 fans came to see them play for one last time and if you ask Montreal Expos fans today about the loss of our team, they are still saddened by it.
The closing of the Lachine Canal
In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway allowed ships to directly access the Great Lake ports, which contributed to the closure of the Lachine Canal.
The opening of the Seaway combined with the decline of shipping on the Lachine Canal left a lot of neighbourhoods devastated.
This shift in pattern marked our transition from an industrial economy to a service economy. In 2002, the canal reopened for boating.
The 1976 Summer Olympics
Out of all the things I wish I could have experienced in Montreal, the Olympic Games are at the top of my list. I can’t imagine the electricity that was felt throughout the streets of our city during this time.
This took place during the summer of 1976 and it is best remembered as the Olympic Games where Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn) became known to the world as “an all American hero.”
It is also remembered for Nadia Comaneci and her gold medal gymnastics routine that earned the first-ever perfect score.
Liz Taylor and Richard Burton get married in Montreal
Elizabeth Taylor has been married quite a few times, eight to be exact. However, not many people of our generation know that in 1964 superstars Liz Taylor and Richard Burton got married right here, in Montreal.
The ceremony took place at the Unitarian Church of Montreal and the reception was at the luxurious Ritz Carleton hotel on March 16, 1964. The pair later got a divorce…and then married again, though the second time the wedding didn’t take place on our fair island.
The tragic École Polytechnique massacre
The shooting at École Polytechnique in Montreal is known throughout the country as the Montreal Massacre.
This horrendous mas shooting broke the hearts of all Montreal locals as fourteen women were brutally murdered.
Another fourteen people were injured in these events, ten women and four men. The events took place at the engineering school that is linked to Université de Montreal and the shooter was targeting women.
This event will forever be part of Montreal. If you want to learn more, the incredible and internationally renowned Quebecois filmmaker, Denis Villeneuve, made a movie about this shooting in 2009 and it is honestly incredible and very hard to watch.
Learn more about the film Polytechnique here.
The Oka Crisis
Although this incident didn’t exactly take place on the island of Montreal, it was close enough to us for it to affect our history.
The Oka Crisis was a dispute over land between local Mohawk people and the town of Oka in Quebec, which is less than one hour away from our city.
It began on July 11, 1990, when police were brought in to intervene on gathering Mohawks who were protesting the expansion of a golf course onto unceded land. The stand-off lasted a total of 78 days, ending on September 26, 1990.
Two deaths were reported during these events and the well-publicized dispute ended up becoming a violent conflict between the armed forces and the First Nations.
The region has become a point of contention yet again, in recent months. Read more about it below.
John Lennon Bed-In Performance
John Lennon is a man that is remembered for so many things. He was a Beatle, a writer and most of all, an advocate for world peace.
In 1969, the Vietnam War was in full effect. Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono decided to hold a two-week-long bed-in performance for peace.
He spent one week at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and a second week in Montreal at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
These performances were meant to be a nonviolent protest against wars and a promotion of love and peace.
It is pretty incredible that this went down in MTL! If you are a crazed John Lennon fan, you can actually stay in the same room as him at the Hotel, like Ciara did when she was here for Pride this year!