<< Back to Home & Style, July 2014

City Style: Montreal

  • Karen Cakebread

Canada’s second-largest city enjoys worldwide recognition for its inclusionary design ethos.

To describe Montreal as a North American city with a British background and a French varnish is to oversimplify its complex nature. On this island city where the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers meet, the downtown core is bordered roughly by Old Montreal, with its limestone edifices and cobblestone streets, and Mount Royal, whose elevation determines the height of all new construction (buildings are limited to about 51 stories), with people of more than 120 ethnicities residing in the avenues of the surrounding districts. Residents cling tenaciously to their Frenchness, using the language to protect their Quebecois culture, at the same time as they embrace new urban-design trends—both cutting-edge and quirky—such as digital lighting in public spaces and striking graffiti murals. Montreal was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2006 for prioritizing architecture and design that benefit all of its citizens, in manifestations as basic as its bike-sharing system and as overarching as the way it converted the Expo 67 World’s Fair grounds into a multifunctional recreational and residential area that is still well used nearly 50 years later. This collective joie de vivre translates to satisfying discoveries for visitors who happen upon Montreal’s many surprises. 

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