Montreal suffered in the 1970s from a “Go West” trend, to the benefit of Ontario and the western provinces rich in oil and natural gas. It remains, however, the headquarters of most of the largest Canadian banks, railroad lines, and insurance companies, as well as for the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency, affiliated with the United Nations, that sets the rules and standards for international air traffic. The city is also an important shipping and industrial centre.
The centuries-long colonial fur trade that penetrated the continent to its westernmost territories formed the city’s earliest commercial ventures. Soap making, brewing and distilling (among John Molson’s main civic legacies), and wood and leather fabrication are longtime Montreal industries. Innumerable other products of a modern manufacturing economy emanate from the city’s factories, and the trend has been toward such high technology products as telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals. Services account for the largest share of the regional economy and employment. Shopping areas abound throughout the city, in the more remote residential sections as well as throughout the supermodern underground city of streets and shops that has aided Montrealers to carry on in spite of the 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 metres) of snow dumped on the city each winter.
This deluge of snow from November through April is among the most significant factors in Montreal’s life, costing the city millions of dollars annually to remove it from the streets.
The perennial grumbling of Montrealers about municipal transportation is more an exercise of democratic rights than a reflection of reality. Compared with those in other large cities, bus and subway lines allow easy movement throughout the area at relatively low cost. The subway, called the Métro, has four lines running under the city and to Longueuil on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Each station is different in architectural design and artistic decor. Public transportation dates from 1847, and by 1868 buses mounted on sleighs replaced rail cars during the winter. By 1894 the entire system had been electrified and the last horsecars withdrawn from service. Montreal is also served by two airports (both under the same authority): Montreal-Dorval handles domestic and international commercial flights, and Montreal-Mirabel handles charter flights and air cargo. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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