Montreal is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with more than 120 cultural communities represented here. Its population hails from every continent, but chiefly from Europe (37%), Asia (29%), America (21%) and Africa (12%).
In more than one neighbourhood, this cultural diversity is a strong source of identity that is proudly displayed by its residents, of course, but also by its shops, restaurants and other businesses, whose owners are all always happy to offer customers a little piece of “their country.”
But immigration alone doesn’t account for the myriad particularities that are the pride of Montreal. History also has a lot to do with it. Montreal was a major industrial centre that drew many successful business people who built sumptuous houses that can still be admired today on the most beautiful sites in the city. Ordinary tradespeople and labourers, on the other hand, lived near the factories where they worked, but these eventually closed or moved, depriving the workers of their employment and leaving only empty buildings behind.
Many of these neighbourhoods found new vocations, although some still bear the scars of their past and today are home to populations of very modest means.
Another apparent contrast lies in the fact that although Montreal is the 19th most populous conurbationin North America and despite its high level of urbanization, this city has managed to protect scores of natural sites where water, vegetation and forest predominate, even if towering skyscrapers can be seen a mere stone’s throw away.
Montreal’s diversity and contrasts are what lend this city so much of its charm.