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Montreal is Canada's second-largest city. It is also the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. Its most famous structure, the Olympic Stadium, was home to the Expos baseball team until they got a timeshare in Puerto Rico became the Washington Nationals. The Bell Centre (Formerly the Molson Centre) is the home of the Montreal Canadiens (who previously called the storied Montreal Forum home), the oldest hockey team in the NHL and the team that has won the most Stanley Cups (though they haven't been doing so well in the last two decades). While not as big a filming centre as Vancouver, quite a few movies are still filmed in Montreal. Its wide range of architecture allows the city to act as a cheap stand-in for many European cities. Montreal is also the home of a few Video Game design studios: Ubisoft Montreal (Prince of Persia series and ~Assassin's Creed~); Electronic Arts Montreal (Army of Two); Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex Human Revolution) and now THQ.

As in all of the province of Quebec, Montreal's administration is fiercely protective of its French culture.[1] There are indeed "language police" whose job requirements include, for example, ensuring that English signs are no larger than French signs. (They don't patrol, though. They only respond to citizen complaints.) That said, Montreal is not an unequivocally French city, much to said language police's chagrin. Especially in the downtown area around Ste. Catherine Street[2], quite a few of its inhabitants are native English-speakers (often Jewish), who often adopt a culture closer to American/English Canadian culture than their French compatriots. The city also plays host to two predominantly English universities (McGill and Concordia), and the Canadiens are mostly English-speaking (a huge point of contention for French purists; don't ask). On top of all this, the city attracts quite a few immigrants; overall, it's a cultural mosaic similar to other major Canadian cities.

Tourists are advised to stay in the downtown area, cars and all; not only is English widely accepted downtown but there's bars everywhere and a strip club every other block on St. Catherine's (we're quite serious: St. Catherine's goes bar, restaurant, bar, strip club, interesting shops (that kind and not), museum, bar, strip club, etc.). Generally a good deal. Should English-speakers wish to leave this bubble, it is best, when requesting assistance, to plaintively say, in bad French or humble English, "I don't speak French. Do you speak English?" This is a general rule for traveling in Quebec, but you're more likely to get friendly service with this trick in Montreal than anywhere else in the province.

One unique aspect of the local media market is that, while most other large Canadian cities receive the major US broadcast Networks through affiliates based in cities at least as large as they are (much of southern Ontario gets the Buffalo or Detroit stations, Vancouver gets the Seattle ones, etc.), the closest American cities to Montreal are Burlington, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York, whose combined metropolitan areas (city and suburbs together) are less than one-twelfth the population of the Montreal area. Consequently, these two cities both have the largest city in their broadcast areas in another country. It leads to the strange situation where American TV stations carry large amounts of advertising for foreign businesses -- a good percentage of English-language advertising for Montreal businesses aimed at Montrealers is carried on Burlington and Plattsburgh stations.

Close proximity to Quebec has another interesting effect on Vermont and far northern New York. As they sit right next to a French-speaking area that has far more people than they do (and which sends a lot of tourists their way), it is one of the few regions of the country where French, not Spanish, is the default second language. Road signage on parts of the Adirondack Northway is in English and French while I-89 in Vermont has signs with distances in kilometers, the tourist guides at Fort Ticonderoga (or Fort Carillon, the French name for it) are printed in both languages, and it's not uncommon to hear people on the street speaking in French.

Montreal is known for its epic music scene. Having been hailed as the most creative city in North America in the early 2000`s it has produced such bands as Arcade Fire, Malajube, Young Galaxy (recent Polaris prize shortlisters), Stars, Coeur de Pirate, Wolf Parade, The Stills, and The Dears. As well it is home to music royalty Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright, among others.

Did, we, MENtion, that it's ..... ALso, William Shatner's, BIRTHPLACE?


Films and TV Series set in Montreal

Movies and TV Series filmed in Montreal

Notes

  1. A common misconception is that most French-speaking people in Montreal, and in Quebec in general, share this mindset; while it is quite common among the general populace, many French Quebecers not in political office just don't see what the big deal is about.
  2. even more so when approaching the largely English suburb of Westmount
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