The History of Montreal: A Review

The History of Montreal: A Review

This article first appeared in the July 2013 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.
Life in Quebec Magazine is a lifestyle publication covering the Quebec region and is published at least 3 times per year.
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Review by Mary Hansen

History-of-MontrealThe History of Montréal
By Paul-André Linteau (translated by Peter McCambridge)
ISBN: 9781926824772
Price: $19.95
Published by Baraka Books

The History of Montréal is a straightforward look at how Montreal has weathered the passage of time. Paul-André Linteau packs the facts of the city’s history into a remarkably quick read, from the area’s mysterious beginnings as an Iroquoian settlement that vanished inexplicably to the fall of Gérald Tremblay and everything in between.

Apart from the bare bones dates and names, the book also provides a sense of the recurring themes that threatened and/or contributed to Montreal’s development. Rivalry with other cities is a major component. Though the founding of Montreal was (not without reason) considered a “foolhardy undertaking” by Quebec City’s then governor, the settlement fought hard for a measure of autonomy, persevered through hard times, and eventually enjoyed a long stint as Canada’s largest city. Another rival, Toronto, would surpass it in 1976.

Other key themes include architecture, the influence of religion on Montreal society and, of course, the curious mixing of French Canadians and English speakers that is particular to Montreal. Although the proximity of two linguistic and cultural identities has often been a source of conflict, Linteau also shows how it has been an impetus for development, making Montreal the thriving metropolis and multicultural hub it is today.

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