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Montréal city profile | city data
  • Montréal is the fourth largest French-speaking city in the world
  • It is a ‘city of festivals,’ with over 100 taking place every year
  • It has an active grassroots arts scene, due in part to its low cost of living

City data: Key facts

  • Geographical area: 499 sq. km
  • Total population: 1,942,044
  • GDP (PPP) million: $103,648

Montréal is the largest city in the province of Québec, the second largest in Canada, and the largest francophone city in the world after Paris. Today, Montréal is home to over two million residents and over 120 different ethnic communities.

Montréal is renowned for its arts and culture scene. In 2006, Montréal was designated as a UNESCO City of Design. The city is host to a robust year round cultural calendar of globally attended festivals and events – in the winter with Montréal en lumière as one of the largest winter festivals in the world, and in the summer with Festival international de Jazz de Montréal and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, which see hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Montréal is also internationally recognised for its circus industry and community. Around 2,000 people per day pass through the Cité des arts du cirque, a sectorial cluster dedicated to contemporary circus study and performance.

The physical heart of the city’s cultural offering is Quartier des Spectacles cultural district – formerly the city’s red light area and now home to 85 institutional and cultural partners including performance venues, museums, galleries, cinemas and cultural centres and a series of outdoor public spaces. The area supports 450 cultural businesses and over 7,000 creative workers. Alongside this central offer, Montréal is also prioritising neighbourhood-level cultural development and investment through its Cultural Neighbourhoods programme and Montréal’s Maisons de la culture Network. The metropolis is also recongnised for the richness and diversity of its many museums and institutions. There is also significant investment and activity happening around the redevelopment of libraries into mixed-use cultural centres across the city.

The design and delivery of cultural policy in Montréal was inspired by actions and directives of the Conseil des arts de Montréal (Montréal Arts Council), Culture Montréal, the Government of Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications, and the Metropolitan Community of Montréal. The City of Montréal’s cultural policy aligns with the Province of Québec’s regional cultural policy for, Politique Partout, la culture (Policy Everywhere, culture).

The City has introduced a number of new policies and programmes connecting Montréal to its history, and envisioning a more sustainable and equitable future. In 2021, Montréal introduced Plan d’action en matière de valorisation de la langue française 2021-2024, its first action plan for promoting the French language across the city. And Montréal has launched the Montréal 2030 strategic plan for the city, that covers four priority areas: (1) climate change, resilience and sustainability; (2) diversity, equity and inclusion; (3) democracy and citizen engagement; and (4) stimulating innovation and creativity. These priorities will be addressed across three scales – the human scale, neighbourhood and community scale, and the city scale.

Montréal continues to think about how to address its complicated colonial history, how its past and present is reflected across the city and takes tangible actions to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples. In 2020, Montréal adopted its 2020-2025 Strategy for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, a significant milestone in its reconciliation efforts with First Nations and Inuit communities. Commitments include decolonising city services to ensure more inclusive representation of Montréal and Aboriginal diversity, and a new mural arts programme and creative residencies focusing on local indigenous artists. Also in 2020, Montréal established a new city office dedicated to addressing racism and discrimination in the city and in city services.

Montréal has faced multiple challenges in recent years that pose a direct threat to the cultural sector and creative vitality of the city. Rising property value and associated gentrification, coupled with rising inflation is making it increasingly difficult for cultural organisations and artists to find spaces to live, create and perform. The Covid-19 pandemic has also had a deep impact on Montréal’s cultural sector workforce, leading to a shortage of specialised workers including stage technicians and film industry workers. A number of measures to address the impact of the pandemic on the cultural sector have been rolled out by the City of Montréal and the Quebec government, including $30 million in assistance for artist studios and separate support for performance venues, galleries and museums.

Montréal is currently in its final year of delivery of its 2017 – 2022 Cultural Development Policy, with planning underway to determine the direction of Montréal’s cultural policy for the coming years.