12 Facts About Montreal That Are Actually Lies
Want to know why your pants are currently ablaze? It's because you've been telling lies about Montreal, and you didn't even know it. From the Metro to street signs to simple geographical directions, Montreal's residents unwittingly uphold some pretty interesting untruths, so be fooled no longer, and read on to reveal some “facts” about Montreal that are actually lies...
1. The official name of the city's hockey team is the Montreal Canadiens
Ever wonder why the Habs have a “C-H” logo, even though they're supposedly called the Montreal Canadiens? That's because, technically, they aren't the Montreal Canadiens. The official name of the team is le Club de hockey Canadien, even though next to no one calls the Habs that anymore.
2. Montreal streets are named after saints
Saint-Laurent, Saint Denis, Saint Paul -- you can find a saint on oh-so-many street signs in Montreal, and while you'd assume that they're named as such to commemorate religious icons, that isn't quite the case. When the city of Montreal was being built way back in the day, the lead architect thought it would be best to name streets after his friends and fellow leaders, tacking on a “saint” to make it seem a bit more official. Though some streets are definitely commemorating an actual saint, many are not.
3. Montreal's Underground City is the world's largest subterranean shopping complex
Everyone seems to assume that Montreal's Underground City, the most expansive on the globe, is also the world’s largest underground retail network... though that isn't quite the case. Technically, the accolade of the world's biggest underground shopping complex goes to Toronto's Underground Pedestrian Walkway, otherwise known as PATH, according to Guinness.
4. North is actually North in Montreal
Montrealers know the city tends to do things in its own unique way, and that extends even to the cardinal directions. Basing the direction of streets in their relation to the St. Lawrence River, where East and West reflects the flow of the river while North and South are perpendicular streets, the city formed its very own compass. Technically, North is really Northwest in a most areas of the city, and in some parts North is actually West.
5. The STM Metro announcer is a robot
“Prochaine station Peel,” or whichever station you happen to be stopping at, is spoken over the Metro PA system with such grace and precision that many assume it must be a robot or program speaking the words. Well there's no Her situation going on here, as the voice heard by hundreds of Montrealers every day is actually Quebec actress Michèle Deslauriers, who has been telling you the next stop for the past 11 years.
6. The Metro system is fully heated in the winter
Yet another Metro misconception, and one people tend to assume is true simply because the underground subway network gets so damn hot in the winter. You'd think it was the STM giving everyone a respite from the harsh winds of winter, but in actuality, the entire Metro system is heated simply by the movement of the trains, along with the body heat of passengers and the heating systems provided by neighbouring or connected buildings. With the Metro being an entirely closed network (save entrances), all the heat gets trapped in and you're forced to take off your coat before you overheat.
7. The city and the mountain have always shared the same name
Given that the city of Montreal and Mount Royal are variations on what's essentially the exact same name, many assume the two were given their titles at around the same time. But it wasn't until the 1800s that the city was actually referred to as Montreal. Originally, when the island was settled by missionaries in 1642, the area that would become Montreal was named Ville-Marie, the name now given to the Downtown borough. To give a more basic timeline, "Montreal" first referred to the mountain, then the island, and finally the city itself.
8. The Village has always been The Village
Montreal's gaybourhood, otherwise known as The Village, hasn't always been on the East end of Sainte Catherine St, at least in terms of where most of the LGBT community gathered in the city. Originally there were two hubs for the gay community in Montreal, the West End (between Guy and Stanley St) and what is now The Main strip of Saint Laurent. After a series of forced closures and raids on gay establishments, bars and clubs began opening up on St. Catherine between Berri and Papineau. One bar owner called the new area "Le Village de l'Est,” a nod to the East Village in New York. Eventually the title was trimmed down and the area grew into The Village we know today.
9. Students in Montreal pay the lowest tuition in Canada
You'll often hear this argument used when people complain about the student protests in Montreal and the Quebec area, even though it isn't true. Yes, Montreal/Quebec students do pay cheaper tuition than a majority of other students in Canada, but it's students in Newfoundland & Labrador who are actually charged the least for post-secondary education, though the difference is quite small.
10. Cinema L'Amour is the oldest operating adult movie theatre in North America
Both Cinema L'Amour and San Francisco’s Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre began playing X-rated films in 1969, but the former is older by just a few months. The space that is now Cinema L'Amour was originally opened in 1914 as The Globe, later changed to The Hollywood in 1932. It wasn't until November 1969 that the theatre re-open as adult movie theatre Le Pussycat, which was then renamed once more as Cinema L'Amour in July 1981. So while the space was used as an adult movie theatre for nearly the same amount of time, Cinema L'Amour didn't technically start showing skin flicks till 1981, making the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre the oldest in North America.
11. Everyone in Montreal can speak English AND French
Despite being known as a fully bilingual city, not all of Montreal's residents have a proficient command of both languages. According to a 2011 census, just a bit above half of the city's population (55.8%) reported to speak both English and French, which is still pretty impressive. 10.3% of residents stated they spoke only English, 31.1% identified solely as French speakers, and 2.3% said they spoke neither French nor English. No doubt ordering at restaurants is a tad troublesome for that last group.
12. The second John Lennon-Yoko Ono Bed-In was supposed to be in Montreal
In actuality, Montreal wasn't even the second choice. Originally, the duo planned to storm a bedroom in New York, but were they weren't allowed into the States due to Lennon's heavy marijuana use. Lennon and Ono headed to the Bahamas next, and after spending a single night in the intense heat, they decided they couldn't handle a full-blown indoor protest in that kind of weather. So the pair headed to Montreal on May 26th, 1969 where they stayed in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and history (along with “Give Peace A Chance”) was made.