a couple of weeks ago i set out to do a rough sketch of three disparate neighbourhoods in montreal, each located in a different part of the city. i hope you enjoy. feel free to post questions or comments about each neighbourhood.


located a few miles northwest of downtown, on the other side of mount royal, côte-des-neiges and a large and varied neighbourhood containing montreal's largest university, several other schools and colleges, some big hospitals and plenty of distinct areas.

i focused on the central area near the côte-des-neiges metro station. the residents around here are largely immigrants and students, with a huge daytime population thanks to offices, the jewish general hospital and the university of montreal (55,000 students, 6,400 faculty). around the metro station is a cluster of civic facilities (library, recreational centre, schools) and commerce (several supermarkets and greengrocers, two big bookstores, restaurants, bars, cafes, drugstores, etc.). between april and october, a small parking lot near the metro is transformed into a 24-hour fruit and vegetable market.

in terms of building stock, côte-des-neiges was an old village dating back to the early 19th century. it started to urbanize in the 1910s but only in earnest in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. much of the building stock dates to the immediate postwar era.


rosemont is a big, sleepy neighbourhood in the east end of montreal, about four to five miles from downtown. it has two main points of interest: a small commercial district around molson park, in the upper part of the neighbourhood, and another commercial district down the hill in an area known as old rosemont.

this is a traditionally working- and middle-class french-speaking neighbourhood. compared to many montreal districts, there aren't that many immigrants, although there are notable ukrainian and haitian communities here. in recent years, the area around molson park has been gentrified by middle-class families and there are now many cafes, restaurants and an arthouse cinema adjacent to the park.

old rosemont developed in the 1900s and 1910s along the 47 streetcar line. its residents were largely factory and railyard workers (the canadian pacific railway's massive angus shops were just south of here; now they've been turned into a humdrum quasi-new urbanist development. other parts of rosemont developed later, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

downtown west end

the downtown west end (sometimes known as the concordia ghetto, and not to be confused with the west end) is located to the west of montreal's main retail and office core and about a mile and a half northwest of the financial district. its eastern reaches are home to concordia university (31,000 students and 2,000 faculty), which is responsible for much of the neighbourhood's flavour. there are also a number of ESL schools here, some elite private schools and two colleges.

residents here are a mix of immigrants, students, professionals and the various mix of other types of people you'd expect in a downtown area. there are especially large chinese and arab communities here, which is reflected in the area's commerce and the faces on the street. it's also a generally diverse neighbourhood, thanks in part to concordia, which has a very multicultural student body.

the downtown west end was part of the former 'golden square mile,' an uptown commercial and residential district that was home to montreal's english-speaking middle and upper classes between the 1870s and the 1920s. this had always been on the lower end, socioeconomically-speaking, of the square mile, and by the early twentieth century most of its old apartment buildings and victorian rowhouses were distinctly low-rent. the postwar years saw intense construction of large brutalist apartment towers; despite their ugliness, the neighbourhood would not be as interesting today without them. in the 1980s and 90s, the area's rowhouses were renovated and occupied by professionals, but the apartment buildings still remain fairly inexpensive and somewhat run-down.