MONTRéAL history series

(Montréal, mon amour, mon histoire)

This five hour-long documentaries series explores the Aboriginal, French and British roots of Montréal. Supported by nearly one thousand photographs, paintings and maps drawn from major public archives and private collections, this series brings together the city’s builders in a vast panoramic portrait of the first metropolis of Canada.

1 - The River and Its Island

In May 1642, the French officer Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, founds, with Jeanne Mance, one of the great port cities of North America. Following the collapse of New France, waves of immigrants arrive from the British Isles. John Molson brews beer and develops the steamboat. After a golden age as a cereal exporter, the great port and its city slide into a long decline.

2 - Maisonneuve, Cradle of Industry

At the dawn of the 20th Century, industrialists and real estate developers attract a vast working class to the east side of the island of Montréal by offering cheap housing and industrial jobs. Mostly French Canadian laborers make trains, airplanes, tanks and even submarines. The brothers Oscar and Marius Dufresne, enriched by the immense shoe-manufacturing business founded by their parents, build a majestic residence for themselves - the Château Dufresne.

3 - Around the Mountain

Indignant over the cutting of trees on Mount Royal, the city's notables decide that it should become a park, and hire the American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of New York's Central Park. Anglophones and Francophones build, around the mountain, their key institutions - universities, hospitals and a massive Oratory.

4 - La Main : Streets of Immigrants

Jewish, Chinese and Italian immigrants settle along St. Lawrence Boulevard, also known as Montréal's Main Street, or "la Main". But Canada is not always welcoming, particularly in times of war. Racist government policies exclude, marginalize and unjustly imprison many. Following World War II, more enlightened policies permit inclusion and integration.

5 - Downtown, the Age of Lights

Electric lighting and American culture give St. Catherine Street a vibrant nightlife filled with exotic cabarets. Tourists gamble, prostitution is rife, police are on the take. But a whistleblower, Pacific Plante, exposes the system and triggers a public inquiry. The star prosecutor, Jean Drapeau, becomes mayor of Montreal and reshapes the city into a modern metropolis.

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