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Montreal is the cultural capital of Quebec and the main entry point to the province. Situated on an island in the St. Lawrence River just at its highest navigable point, Montreal has been a strategic location since before the arrival of Europeans in Canada.  Montreal is home to the second-largest French-speaking population in the western world, with Paris being the largest. Walking is a favored way to get around the densely packed downtown and the narrow streets of Old Montreal, especially during the warmer months.  In the winter you can always take the stairs down to Montreal’s famous “Underground City” (Montréal souterrain), a network of pedestrian corridors connecting Métro stations, shopping centers and office complexes. The second largest city in Canada, it is a city rich in culture and history, has an inordinate number of attractive, fashionably dressed people, and a well-deserved reputation as one of the liveliest cities in North America. And now it’s your new home.

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    About Montreal

    Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. It’s one of the biggest French-speaking cities in the world.  The island sits at the confluence of three rivers: the mighty St. Lawrence, the Rivière des Prairies and the Ottawa. Montrealers talk of their streets as going north-south and east-west, but the island itself is askew, tilted to the northeast. Montreal is situated in the southwest of the province of Quebec, approximately 168 miles southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 118 miles east of Ottawa, the federal capital, 539 335 miles northeast of Toronto, 380 miles north of New York City.

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    Demographics show that Montreal residents come from 80 countries, forming many vibrant ethnic communities and neighborhoods.  You will quickly detect a distinct British influence in parts of the city, inherent in the culture since the days when English merchants controlled the city’s trade. The metro are has many neighborhoods here is a brief description of a few.

    The Main
    Splitting the city in half, both physically and psychologically, is St-Laurent Boulevard—The Main, as it is affectionately known. It is here that waves of immigrants first settled upon their arrival in the New World.

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    About Quebec

    Population: 7,651,531
    French-Canadian 82%
    Irish 4.1%
    Italian 3.5%
    English 3.1%
    Other 7.3%

    Capital: Quebec City
    Largest Cities:Montreal, Quebec, Longueuil
    Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)
    Daylight Savings Time: Yes
    Official language: French
    Official website:
    Currency: Canadian dollar

    Quebec, located in Eastern Canada, is surrounded by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay to the west, and by Ungava Bay to the north.

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    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 22°F 4°F 2.90 in.
    Feb 24°F 7°F 2.60 in.
    Mar 36°F 19°F 2.90 in.
    Apr 52°F 32°F 3.10 in.
    May 65°F 43°F 3.00 in.
    Jun 75°F 53°F 3.40 in.
    Jul 79°F 58°F 3.60 in.
    Aug 76°F 55°F 4.10 in.
    Sep 67°F 47°F 3.60 in.
    Oct 55°F 37°F 3.10 in.
    Nov 41°F 27°F 4.00 in.
    Dec 27°F 11°F 3.90 in.

    By Car

    Driving in Montreal can be a little stressful for the first timer.  Signage is generally in French, so make sure you at least know those words before you hit the road. Luckily, other transportation methods are convenient too.

    Rules in Montreal for driving are a little different than you may be used to.  Downtown, many streets are one way, so be mindful of which way you can turn.  Turning right on red is generally prohibited in the city, but elsewhere in Quebec is allowed.  A flashing green traffic light indicates that left hand turns have the right of way.

    Parking downtown is usually regulated by automatic meters.  Spots are numbered, and a nearby booth will accept payment for that spot.  Sundays, nighttime, and holidays are free for parking, but make sure you read any relevant signs.  If it snows heavily, you’ll need to get your car off the street to make way for the plows, or face a fine.

    Public Transportation

    Société de transport de Montréal

    The city is served by a network of buses and subway and commuter trains that extend across and off the island. Currently the subway and bus systems are operated by the Société de transport de Montréal.

    Montreal Metro

    Fast, pleasant and environmentally friendly.  Each station of the Montreal Metro was designed by different architects with individual themes and features original artwork, and the trains themselves run on rubber tires, making the system quieter than most.

    Via Rail

    VIA Rail, which is headquartered in Montreal, provides several rail services to other cities in Canada, particularly to Québec City and Toronto with several trains daily.


    The U.S. national passenger rail system also provides service to Montreal, operating its Adirondack daily between Montreal and New York City.

    The price of a fare, to which a rate per kilometer is added, is displayed on the taxi meter. Rates do not differ on evenings and weekends. Receipt available upon request. Tipping is customary but not mandatory.

    When the lighted sign on the top of the cab is on, the taxi is available for a client. When the lighted sign is turned off, the driver is waiting for a client or on the way to pick one up.

    There are more than 420 taxi stands and 4,445 taxi cabs in Montréal.

    Air Transportation

    Montreal Airports
    Aéroports de Montréal Head Office
    1100 René-Lévesque Blvd West, Suite 2100
    Montréal, Québec, Canada H3B 4X8
    (514) 394-7200

    Montréal – Pierre Elliott Trudeau
    International Airport
    975 Roméo-Vachon Blvd North, Suite 317
    Montréal, Québec, Canada H4Y 1H1
    (514) 394-7377

    This airport is a half hour west of downtown, just take Highway 20.  It can be a lot longer, depending on traffic conditions, so give yourself plenty of time.  Taxi fare is a standard $35 within the downtown zone.  There are also a variety of different shuttles that connect from downtown for even cheaper.

    Montréal–Mirabel International Airport
    12300 Service A-4 Street
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada J7N 1E8
    (514) 394-7377

    Mirabel is now exclusively a cargo airport.  It’s about an hour north of Montreal.

    Local Phone Numbers

    Area code
    (Montréal Island) 514 or 438
    (Montréal surroundings) 450
    Emergency  911
    Québec Poison Control Centre (800) 463-5060
    Consulate General of the United States of America (514) 398-9695
    Official Montréal Tourism
    Official City of Montréal
    Live Web Cams of parts of Montréal  
    Greater Montreal Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (514) 844-5400
    1555 Peel St, #600
    Infotouriste Centre (514) 873-2015, (800) 363-7777
    1001 Dorchester Square (near Metcalfe)
    Saint-Luc Hospital (514) 890-8000
    1058 Saint-Denis Street
    Notre-Dame Hospital (514) 890-8000
    1560 Sherbrooke Street East
    Hôtel-Dieu Hospital (514) 890-8000
    3840 Saint-Urbain Street
    Royal Victoria Hospital (514) 934-1934
    687 des Pins Ouest Avenue
    Gaz Métro (800) 875-6202
    Gaz Métro is the major natural gas distributor in Québec. This growing company’s network and activities never cease to expand and diversify. In Québec, the Company serves over 150,000 customers in 259 municipalities through its huge 9,166 km long gas grid. 97% of the natural gas consumed in Québec is delivered by Gaz Métro.
    Hydro Québec (888) 385-7252
    Hydro-Québec Distribution provides reliable and continuous electricity service to Québec customers. Ensures a secure supply of electricity. Offers services adapted to customers’ priority expectations.
    Telus Quebec
    TELUS Corporation is one of Quebec’s leading telecommunications companies, providing a full range of communications products and services for Canadians at home, in their workplace and on the move.
    Cogeco Cable (866) 384-4837
    Cogeco Cable is the second largest cable operator in each of Ontario and Quebec and the fourth in Canada based on the number of basic service customers served. Cogeco Cable provides services to about 830,000 video and Internet customers through its two-way broadband cable infrastructure.
    Videotron (514) 380-2967
    Vidéotron Ltée is a leader in new technologies offering: interactive television systems, high-bandwidth network, high-speed cable Internet access, analog and digital TV services.
    Bell Canada (800) 668-6878
    BCE provides residential and business customers with wireline and wireless telecommunications products, applications and services, satellite communications and direct-to-home television services, systems integration expertise, electronic commerce solutions, Internet access and high-speed data services.
    Look (800) 356-5665
    Look is one of the largest Internet Service Providers in Canada, with its own vast network and licensed spectrum exclusive to Look customers. This high-level bandwidth, optimized for business, ensures maximum uptime and means fast, reliable, secure and cost-effective service for you.
    Rogers Cable (888) 764-3771
    Rogers Communications Inc. provides cable television, broadband Internet access, video retailing, digital PCS and cellular services across Canada.
    Shaw Cable
    Shaw Cable is one of Canada’s leading Cable companies, offering cable, digital, internet services to consumers and businesses.
    Star Choice, Satellite System (866) STAR WEB
    Star Choice is a leading provider of digital satellite television in Canada. We offer over 370* channels to choose from, great programming packs, top quality Motorola hardware, access to Instant Pay Per View movies and events and an onscreen, interactive programming guide.


    2 CBFT SRC
    6 CBMT CBC
    10 CFTM TVA
    12 CFCF CTV
    17 CIVM TQC
    29 CFTU edu.
    35 CFJP TQS
    46 CKMI-01 Global
    62 CJNT CH/ethnic


    AM Stations 
    650 CKZW gospel
    690 CINF news-French
    730 CKAC news/talk-French
    800 CJAD news/talk-English
    940 CINW news-English
    990 CKGM sports-English
    1040 CJMS country-French
    1280 CFMB ethnic
    1610 CPAM community
    FM Stations 
    88.1 CBME news/information
    91.3 CIRA religious
    92.5 CFQR soft ac-English
    93.5 CBMC classical
    94.3 CKMF CHR-pop-French
    95.1 CBF news/info-French
    95.9 CJFM hot ac-English
    96.9 CKOI CHR-rhythmic-French
    97.7 CHOM active rock
    99.5 CJPX classical French
    100.7 CBFX public/jazz/classic-French
    101.5 CIBL modern rock-French
    101.9 CHAI community
    102.3 CINQ multi languages
    103.5 CJLM ac-French
    103.7 CKRK community/urban Kanien’keha/English
    103.9 CIME ac-French
    104.1 CFZZ ac-French
    104.9 CJLA ac-French
    105.1 CKDG adult hits, ethnic
    105.7 CFGL hot ac-English
    106.5 CFEI ac-French
    106.7 CKZW gospel
    107.3 CITE active rock-French

    Science & Nature

    Centre des Sciences de Montreal
    King Edward Pier
    Montreal, QC H2Y2E2 Canada
    (514) 283-5256

    This recently opened science and technology centre has quickly become one of the Old Port’s biggest attractions. Along with the IMAX theatre, now part of the centre, three major permanent exhibitions anchor the museum

    Montreal Botanical Gardens/Jardin Botanique de Montréal
    4101 Sherbrooke East
    Montréal, QC H1X 2B2 Canada
    (514) 872-1400

    This west-end park is one of the truly relaxing pieces of greenspace that make Montreal such a wonderful place to live.

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    Musee des Beaux Arts/Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
    1379 Sherbrooke St W
    Montreal, QC H3G1J5 Canada
    (514) 285-1600
    (800) 899-6873

    The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal) is the grande dame of the Canadian museum world. Founded in 1860, the original pavilion, shown at right – now known as the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion – dates from 1912, and the Jean-Noêl Desmarais pavilion, facing it across Sherbrooke St., a Moshe Safdie design, from 1991. The pavilions are connected by an underground passage.

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    Centre d’histoire de Montreal
    335 place d’Youville
    Montreal, QC H2Y3T1 Canada
    (514) 872-3207

    The Centre d’histoire de Montréal, shown at left, built inside the old fire hall on Place Youville, is a deliberately tactile and multimedia experience of what Montreal has been like at different eras of its history – elements like lamp posts, fireboxes, a streetcar ride, are brought together to give a sense of the layered history of the city.

    Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History
    350 Place Royale
    Montréal, QC  H2Y 3Y5  Canada
    (514) 872-9150

    Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, is a national historic site as well as the birthplace of Montréal. Built atop actual remains, Pointe-à-Callière offers visitors a genuine archaeological tour where they can see the first public square, the vaulted canalization of the Saint-Pierre River, the first Catholic cemetery and much more. Advanced technology and a multimedia show projected above the ruins depict Montréal’s past in a new light.

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    Just For Laughs Festival
    St-Denis St
    Montreal, QC H2X1K1 Canada
    (514) 845-3155
    (888) 244-3155

    The Montreal Casino
    Metro Jean-Drapeau and Bus 167 – or inquire at the Dorchester Square tourism counter or at your hotel for free bus services, or take a taxi from downtown

    The Casino de Montréal is a 24/7 extravaganza of gambling, food and drink. Built inside the pavilions of France and Quebec from Expo ’67, it’s a multi-level experience of roaring, tinkling fun. Bring money.

    The Underground City
    Many people come to Montreal to shop in its wide range of international boutiques.

    The most famous aspect of shopping in Montreal is the Underground City. Constantly growing, the “city” – which links many major buildings and multi-level shopping malls in the area – is a shopper’s paradise in any season. One major section is reached via Peel and McGill metro stations on the green line, and another via Bonaventure station on the orange line. East of McGill station is a growing axis from Place-des-Arts metro down through Complexe Desjardins and beyond.

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    Recommended Tours

    Old Montreal
    St-Antoine St south to the St Lawrence River
    Montreal, QC H2Y3B2 Canada

    To get an idea of life in New France during the 18th and 19th centuries, a walking tour of Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) is a must.

    A good place to start would be the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel, which is located at the corner of St-Paul and Bonsecours streets in the eastern end of Old Montreal. The nearby Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), built in 1847, is a testament to Montreal’s influence in British North America. The building, comprising a Greek Revival portico, a tin-plated dome and cast-iron columns imported from England, is a good example of that era’s neoclassical style. Today it houses boutiques and exhibits.

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    Ste-Catherine Street, the main drag for the fashion conscience and the serious trendies. Want edgy, take in “the Main”, Saint-Laurent Street, which has a wild mix of the stylish, the freakish, the fetishist – you get the picture. If you are interested in the exclusive, the classic, or the more traditional, try Sherbrooke Street from Guy to Montagne, Laurier Street west of Avenue du Parc, in Outremont and Les Ailes on St. Catherine. If you don’t want to brave the outdoors in a Montreal winter, then consider the thousands of shops in the “Underground City”, which includes Complex Les Ailes, the Eaton Centre, Les Galleries University, Cours Mont Royal, Place Montreal Trust and Place Ville Marie and more.

    Atwater Market
    Fresh produce and specialty items accessible from the Lachine bike path downtown. A great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning in the summer. Downtown, Montreal, (Lionel-Groulx Metro)

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    Public School System

    Like the rest of Québec province, Montréal has two public school systems, one for French speakers and one for English speakers. The Charter of the French Language (1977), known as Bill 101, restricts access to English-language schools and requires children of immigrants to be educated in French. As a result, French-language schools became increasingly multiethnic.

    With four universities, Montréal is one of the leading centers of higher education in Canada. There are two English-language institutions: McGill University (1821) and Concordia University (1974). Their French-language counterparts are the Université de Montréal (1876) and the University of Québec at Montréal (1969). Both private and state universities are funded by the province on a similar footing. The metropolitan area also has 16 public community colleges and 15 private institutions that offer some college-level training.

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    English School

    The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) was formed as an amalgamation of the English sectors of the former Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, the Commission des Écoles Catholiques de Montréal (CECM), Commission scolaire Jérome-Le-Royer and the Commission scolaire Sainte-Croix. The EMSB was founded on July 1, 1998.

    The English Montreal School Board, Quebec’s largest English Language school board, follows a number of core values including those of fairness and equity in its hiring practices. The EMSB is an equal opportunity employer with 4000 employees and 90 schools and centers. There are 40 elementary schools, 17 secondary schools, 11 outreach schools, 10 social affairs institutions and 11 adult and vocational centers. Currently, there are more than 38,000 students enrolled.

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    In the Quebec education system, the general and vocational college (Cégep) is the first level of post-secondary education. Students wishing to continue their education at the university level after secondary school must first complete a college program. Unlike any other educational institution in the world, colleges are noteworthy in that they offer both pre-university and technical training that prepares students for the labor market. Regardless of the program in which they register, all college students receive general training.

    In the Montreal region, 12 public colleges, 43 private colleges, 4 private secondary schools and colleges and 3 government schools offer college, pre-university and technical training.

    Several educational institutions in Metro Montreal prepare students for International Baccalaureate (I.B.) examinations. The value and prestige of these exams are recognized by most major universities around the world.


    Metro Montreal is home to 11 institutions of higher learning, including four major universities (two English-language and two French-language) and seven affiliated schools. The region ranks second in all of North America for the number of university students per capita.

    The institutions all enjoy a high degree of autonomy and are free to establish their own program of studies, research projects and pedagogical methods. Each institution also sets admission and registration requirements for students, awards its own degrees and hires all its personnel.

    Several institutions offer specialized training programs, specifically in leading high-tech industries such as aerospace, the life sciences and information technologies.

    Université de Montréal Established in 1878, the Université de Montréal, with its 13 faculties and two affiliated schools, is one of the largest French-language universities in the world.

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    Canada Revenue Agency
    (800) 267-6999

    Canada has a wide variety of social programs, and the money for them has to come from somewhere.  Canadian taxes are generally slightly higher in total than those in the US, though it’s broken down a little differently, because the Provinces are generally in charge of the specific social programs instead of the federal government.  As a Canadian resident, you are required to pay taxes here.  The Canada Revenue Agency’s website has many helpful tools to help you figure out what your tax liability is.

    US citizens’ income tax liabilities are based on worldwide income, so you’re still responsible to pay the IRS on income earned in Canada or other countries.  You do get an $80,000 dollar exemption on money you earn overseas, so the tax burden will be significantly lower.  You can also get foreign tax credit because of how much you’re paying in Canada.  The best move is to let a tax professional help you out with the paperwork.

    Mail Delivery

    Canada Post
    (866) 607-6301

    Canada Post is the Canadian postal service in charge of letter and package delivery in the country.  It delivers Monday through Friday.  Canada Post covers more area than any other postal service in the world.  Standard mail delivery throughout the country is four days.  First class mail will reach its destination in one day.  Addressing conventions for letters are the same as it is in the US.

    As of the beginning of 2007, the price of postage for a standard letter is 52 cents.  Canada Post sells “permanent” postage, meaning that even if the cost of postage rises, the stamps purchased for 52 cents will still be sufficient to mail an envelope.  To mail a letter to the United States, postage is 93 cents, and it costs C$1.55 for a letter to anywhere in the world.


    The dollar is Canada’s currency, which is divided into cents, just like in the US.  Often it is abbreviated C$ to distinguish it from other dollar currency. Some merchants in Vancouver will accept American currency, as will parking meters.  The exchange rate hovers around C$1.15 for US$1, or 86 US cents for each C$1.

    Canadian Banknotes
    Canadian notes are issued by the Bank of Canada, and come equipped with modern security features, like holograms, watermarks, and other technologies.  The also have Braille-like bumps on them to help the blind determine the note’s value.  Just like the US, a “buck” is slang for a dollar. Canadian banknotes incorporate a Braille-like feature, allowing the blind to determine the value of the note.  Canadian banknotes are currently issued in the following colors and denominations:

    $5 is blue
    $10 is purple
    $20 is green
    $50 is red
    $100 is brown

    Canadian Coins
    Coins are minted by the Royal Canadian Mint, and feature Elizabeth II on one side, and usually wildlife on the other.  The $1 coin, for instance, has a loon on it, and is know as the “loonie.”  The mint issues coins in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1, and $2 denominations.

    Work Permit

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    (888) 242-2100

    To work in Canada, you need to get a work permit, which is a written authorization to work in the country, normally for a specific amount of time. There are certain industries which are exempt from needing a work permit.  Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is in charge of the permits, which are then issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).  Your employer should take the first steps with HRSDC to get the process moving.

    To get a permit, you must:
    Have no criminal record
    Be in good health
    Not be deemed a security risk
    Prove that you have enough money to maintain yourself and your family

    The documents you’ll need are:
    Proof of identity in the form of a valid passport and two photos of you and your family members

    Proof of employment in Canada, usually as a letter from your employer, and proof that you meet the job requirements for the position

    You can apply as a family to get a work permit and have your spouse and children accompany you there, but they can’t work unless they fill out their own permit application.


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