The site of Montreal was called Hochelaga by the Huron Indians when Jacques Cartier, a French navigator and explorer, visited it in 1535–36 on his second voyage to the New World. More than 1,000 Indians welcomed him on the slope of the mountain that he named Mont Réal, or Mont Royal. More than 50 years elapsed before other Frenchmen returned, this time with Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec city. Hochelaga had disappeared, replaced on the shores of the St. Lawrence by a settlement that Champlain called Place Royale.
It was not until May 1642 that Paul de Chomedey, sieur (lord) de Maisonneuve, founded today’s Montreal. He built dwellings, a chapel, a hospital, and other structures, protecting the settlement against Indian attack with a stockade. He named the aggregate Ville-Marie. The community was granted its first civic charter by King Louis XIV in 1644, and Chomedey became its first governor.
The first hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu, was founded in 1644 by Jeanne Mance and the first school for girls in 1653 by Marguerite Bourgeoys. Almost immediately a society of priests, Les Messieurs de Saint-Sulpice, took charge of education for boys. The real development of Montreal began during the first half of the 18th century. Land grants were made, and farming was developed outside the original fortifications. Colonization was initiated under the French seigniorial system, in which a landowner leased portions of his holdings to numerous farming families.
For many years Montreal was a base for explorers and traders, and by the end of the 18th century outlying settlements—Saint-Henri and Lachine to the west and Longue-Pointe and Pointe-aux-Trembles to the east—had taken root, later to become part of the city or of the Montreal Urban Community. By 1672 the population of Montreal had reached 1,500, but it did not obtain city status for another 120 years and was not incorporated until 1833. The city surrendered peacefully to British forces in 1760 and, with all of New France, became part of the British North American empire in 1763. In November 1775 Montreal was occupied by American Revolutionary forces, who retreated in the spring following the abortive siege of the city of Quebec by Benedict Arnold and thus failed to secure Canada for the new United States. In 1796 Canada’s first public library was opened in Montreal, and in the following year daily postal service was established between Montreal and the United States. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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