- The content on this page originated on Wikipedia and is yet to be significantly improved. Contributors are invited to replace and add material to make this an original article.
European settlement in the area first began 1605, when Samuel de Champlain set up a fur trading post at Place Royale, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence River and the long-vanished Saint Pierre River, near the Iroquois settlement of Hochelaga.
It was not until 1639 that a permanent settlement was created by Jérôme Le Royer. Under the authority of the Roman Catholic Société Notre-Dame, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and a few French colonists set up a mission named "Ville Marie" on May 17, 1642. On January 4th, 1648, de Maisonneuve granted Pierre Gadois the first concession of land—some 40 acres. In November of 1653, another 140 individuals arrived to enlarge the settlement.
The town was fortified in 1725 and remained until French control until 1760, when it was surrendered to the English at the conclusion of the French and Indian War.
The area used to be the city's downtown, with Saint James Street (now renamed Saint Jacques Street) as the financial centre of Canada. The 20th century saw the expansion of the city northwards, away from the riverfront.
Further west, the urban square Place d'Armes is dominated by the Notre-Dame Basilica, the old Bank of Montreal Head Office, the Art deco Aldred Building and the 1888 New York Life Building, the oldest skyscraper in Canada.