Upon his arrival to the small Iroquois settlement of Hochelaga, nestled upon the St. Lawrence River, the French explorer Jacques Cartier  asked his Native hosts to lead him to the mountain nearby. On October 2, 1535, along with his Native guides, he climbed the mountain and proclaimed it "Mont-Royal" in name of the French King François I.  He wrote in his journal: 'Et au parmy d'icelles champaignes, est scituée et assise ladicte ville de Hochelaga, près et joignant une montaigne... Nous nommasmes icelle montaigne le mont-Royal.' (Mount Royal or MontRéal evolved into Montreal,as it is known today. 

The Island of Montreal , initially named place Ville-Marie by Jacques Cartier in honour of the Virgin Mary, was founded by Paul-de-Chomedy, le Sieur-de-Maisonneuve. Initially a European sodier, he was chosen by the Societé-Nôtre-Dame-de-Montréal to take possesion of their concesssions in the New World (North America). Tasked with the mission of establishing a colony on the Island of Montreal, he arrived in New France in 1641. On May 17 of 1642 he and 50 British settlers first set foot upon the Island where colonization began, in the hopes of converting the local Iroquois to Catholicism. By 1643 Chomedy capped off his efforts with the erection of a huge cross at the base of Mont-Royal.  

France ceded its much ignored colony New France to the British in 1763, pursuant to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (Quebec City) and in accordance with the terms of the Traité-de-Paris. But the French culture flourished none-the-less as the French were given many consessions including the keeping of their Civil Law. Nowadays both newcomers and immigrants alike are expanding the city's identity; today it is truly a multicultural city. The Italian, French, Irish, English, Lebanese, Magreb and Carribean communities are particularly well-represented. 

Montreal was the capital of Canada from 1844 to 1849, until the Parliament Buildings were set on fire by an angry mob. A significant point in its history came in the early 19th Century with the construction of the Lachine Canal, greatly expanding opportunities for maritime trade, perhaps at the expense of Quebec City, located much further up the St. Lawrence River.  Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and has been characterized by a number of ambitious engineering projects over the years, such as the Victoria bridge (the first to span the St. Lawrence and in its day, the longest bridge in the world), a railroad tunnel under the mountain (now used for commuter trains), a major expansion of its harbour, the city's system of underground tunnels, the metro, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and various highway and skyscraper projects.  Unlike many other North American cities, Montreal does not boast particularly tall skyscrapers because a city by-law prohibits buildings taller than the Mont-Royal mountain. As a result, the tallest building in Montreal is only 51 storeys high.  

Montreal played host city to the International and Universal Exposition in 1967 (Expo '67), and the Summer Olympics in 1976 . Home to one of the most vibrant gay districts in North America, Montreal hosted the first ever Outgames in 2006.