Montreal is the largest city in Canada’s Quebec Province and is home to almost two million inhabitants. Although Montreal is considered a modern city by even first-world standards, the city is nevertheless steeped in culture and heritage, being influenced by many immigrants. However, most of the influence has a French flavour to it. Much of the city’s modern-day success is built on a massive construction phase in the 1960s. These are some of the highlights of that era.
1962 – The First Underground Tunnel in Montreal
The development of the Place Ville Marie office tower and subterranean shopping mall was a huge engineering feat for that time period. Even today, the underground tunnel would not be an easy task to complete in the timeframe.
An interesting fact is that the site was chosen to remove a pit of railway tracks to the north of Central Station as it was deemed an eyesore by the town planners. The final phase of construction included an underground tunnel that linked to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and Central Station.
1962 – Pont Viau Reopened – Montreal in the 60s
Built originally in 1930, and also known as Ahuntsic Bridge, Pont Viau (or Viau Bridge) was rebuilt in 1962 to accommodate the growing vehicle traffic as the neighbourhood of Pont-Viau grew more populous as it grew in popularity. The bridge is part of Route 335, making it a very important part of linking infrastructure to Montreal.
As the town grew, the bridge needed to be widened in 1983, and today services around 40,000 vehicles every day.
1965 – Founding of Lakeshore General Hospital
With construction of the Lakeshore General Hospital finally completed in 1965 in Pointe-Claire, Montreal finally had a state-of-the-art acute care medical facility to service its growing population. Even after 5 decades, the hospital has maintained its position as a world-class healthcare provider.
Today, the hospital is best known as a trauma centre, often the first point of call for vehicle accidents, due to its close proximity to several major highways. The ER unit treats over 70,000 patients every year and functions as a training facility for emergency response personnel.
1966 – The opening of the Montreal Planetarium – Montreal in the 60s
In April 1966, Mayor Jean Drapeau opened the doors to the Montreal Planetarium in answer to the growing curiosity in space travel. Construction took over 3 years to complete at a cost of $1.2million. The first of over 250 unique shows was “New Skies for a New City”. Over the years, the planetarium saw over 6 million visitors pass through its doors for almost 60,000 shows in both French and English, making it one of the city’s premier attractions to locals and tourists alike.
In 2011, the Montreal Planetarium shut its doors for the last time, paving the way for The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. This new structure is situated in the Espace pour la Vie, in close proximity to the Olympic Stadium and Biodome. Boasting two theatres and a large exhibition space, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is following in its predecessor’s footsteps as a major attraction in Montreal.
1966 – Montreal Metro Completed
After years of construction, and many delays, the Montreal Metro was finally opened in the second half of 1966, once again under the mayorship of Jean Drapeau. In true Francophile style, the metro’s design was inspired by the Paris Metro and closely resembles it.
Over the years, it has stretched from linking with 26 stations on 3 lines, to 68 stations on four lines, making it Canada’s second busiest rail transport system and the 4th overall in the greater North America.
Today, the Montreal Metro facilitates well over 350 million passenger trips every year.
1967 France Pavillon at Montreal Expo 67 – Now houses the Casino de Montreal
The 60’s were a busy time for Mayor Jean Dupont in putting Montreal on the map. In 1967, Casino de Montreal was built. Although the casino today spans three buildings, two of which were built for the International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67) which touted as a benchmark-setting expo of the 1900s. The expo attracted over 500k visitors on day 3 and represented over 60 nations.
One of the buildings constructed for Expo 67 was La Ronde – one of the biggest amusement parks of its time. Today, La Ronde is operated as Six Flags and the old building is the current home of the Casino de Montreal.
What used to be a 24/7 casino has now been forced to change their operating hours due to COVID-19. Many patrons have thus moved online which comes with the added benefit of being able to multiply your deposit using generous deals only available online.
1967 – The completion of Habitat 67
Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, Habitat 67 is a model community situated in Montreal. Habitat 67 was born out of Safdie’s Master’s Degree in Architecture at McGill’s University but came to fruition during Expo 67 when it was created as a pavilion.
Still standing today, Habitat 67 is one of the most iconic developments in modern-day Montreal architecture and is acclaimed as one of the most avant garde creations of its time.