Because of separatism, Toronto outgrew Montréal

How many times have I been told that without separatism, Montréal would still be Canada’s first economical power?

The exodus and some (non-scientific) assumptions

According to american Marc L. Levine, in the 10 years following the 1976 PQ election, 99,000 anglophones left Montréal. (The Reconquest of Montreal, p. 120) This is a huge number, and, as most english commenters will not miss noting, those out-migrants were disproportionately young and well educated, Montréal was thus denuded of its best and brightest.

Let’s assume that all of them went to Toronto and that no one went elsewhere in Canada or in the US. Let’s also assume that all of them had two children as soon as they got to Toronto. The 99,00o figures now becomes 297,000 new inhabitants for Toronto.

And these new inhabitants helped grow Toronto’s economy thus bringing more people not only from Montréal but from abroad. Let’s say that a new job was created by the presence of each one of these new inhabitants and that these jobs were filled exclusively by other new comers. The 297,000 figure doubles and is now a 594,000 inhabitants gain for Toronto and its surroundings and, let’s not forget, a loss of 594,000 for Montreal and its surroundings (who lost those who left, the children they had and the created jobs).

That would explain roughly a difference of 1,200,000 in population for Toronto and Montréal by mid-eighties because of separatism.

The Golden Horseshoe

To fully understand reality, one must not only look at the populations of both Montreal and Toronto but also at the populations of both cities and their surroundings. [2]

Toronto forms the center of a collection of satellite cities and towns, in addition to its suburbs. Such a constellation of cities and towns is called a « conurbation ». Toronto’s conurbation curves around the western end of lake Ontario and has been named the golden Horseshoe.

This small area of land now has 8,100,000 inhabitants. In this area about the size of Prince Edouard Island lives about one canadian out of five. One out of five.

Montreal Urban Community now has 3,8000,000 inhabitants, about 4 millions less than toronto and its surroundings. The gap is much larger than the gap we expected 1,2 million because of separatism. So were there other forces at play?

One might think that Toronto grew massively more because immigrants preferred Toronto to separatism plagued Montréal, and then still blame separatism. But obviously, immigrants also preferred Toronto to Moncton or Winnipeg. And Montréal draws more immigrants than these cities.

And also, Toronto draws immigrants not only from others countries but also from everywhere in Canda, not only from Montréal. And as far as I know, Winnipeg is not plagged with separatism.

So were there other forces at play?

So what happened?

Human settlements and economies historically developped along lines of communication (oceans, open seas, rivers, roads, railroads, passes throught mountains and so on).

Québec historical main line of communication is of course the Saint-Laurent river and the Saint-Laurent river valley development began two centuries before Ontario’s. Ships had to stop at Montréal and Montréal became the first important economic center.

After the opening of the Lachine canal (1826), ships could reach the Great Lakes and Ontario’s development really began.

With the building of railroads (1867 and later), the economic development of the West begins. With the development of both Ontario and  western provinces, the nation economic center of gravity is slowly moving west.

With the opening of the Saint-Laurent seaway (1959), ocean going vessels can now reach Toronto. Higways are spreading across the land and airtravel is opening to the masses. Ontario is no longer an outgrowth of Montréal, it is its own geopolitical and economic entity. [1]

This development along lines of communication is one of the major geopolotical forces that drove the development of Toronto. All this occured well before the rise of separatism and would have occured without separatism.

But when looking only at Canada, we miss the much broader north american picture.

The much broader north american picture

While Ontario and the western provinces were developping, another huge economic gravitational force was also developping.

On the american side of the Great Lakes and across the Mississipi valley, millions were building roads, towns and cities. Again development took place along lines of communication, these lines were the east coast access to the Atlantic, the Mississipi, Missouri and Ohio rivers and the Érié canal reaching to lake Érié.

In the eight american states bordering the Great Lakes now live 87 millions inhabitants, that’s ten times the Golden Horseshoe’s population and twice and a half the total canadian population.

It is said that a picture is worthed a thousand words. Have a look at this satellite picture of North America at night.

Looking at this picture makes the economical gravitationnal force of the flat, fertile prairie of the great plains bording Missouri and Mississipi rivers obvious. Toronto benefits from the closeness of that huge neighboring economy. From Toronto, passing between lakes Ontario and Érié, one has access to the New York and Pennsilvanis states area ; passing between lakes Érié and Huron, one has access to Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio region. Passing between lakes Michigan and Superior, one is already a little too far west. Toronto is at the gateway to this huge economy at the south of our border.

The american states bordering the Great Lakes are a regional market for Toronto and the closeness of these newly developing markets fueled Toronto’s development.

Montreal is at the north east periphery of this huge north american economic mass.

In the beginning of North America’s colonisation, Montreal was at the gateway to the inner lands and Montreal became Canada’s economic center. With the developement of the inner lands, on both canadian and american side, the economical center of gravity moved west and Toronto benefited from it.

Today, Montréal’s turf is the Saint-Laurent valley; less and less english canadian, Montréal became Québec’s main economic center, it had found its niche, it became more and more québécoise.

Geopolitical forces shaped the development of North America and decided of the faith of Toronto and Montréal. These geopolitical forces shaped the history of human development in all times and all places.

A final thought

A quote from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Mark L. Levine, author of The Reconquest of Montreal :

  « The decline of Montreal would fundamentally alter the relationship between English and French… As long as the English of Montreal remained in control of the canadian economy, their position was secure and unassailable. However, as Montreal’s English-speaking financial elites became the executors of decisions originating outside the province, their situation changed dramatically… It was inevitable in this context that [French opinion leaders] would begin questionning the role of the Englsih community in the management of the provincial economy. » (The Reconquest of Montreal, p.43)

Food for thought for those those who regret the good old times when the english ruled the land and blame separatism for the loss of their paradise. Rome did not decay because of the barbarian invasions, the barbarians invaded Rome because of Rome’s decay.


Additionnal information :

Here is a case report from Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto) :
How Toronto became the financial capital of Canada. The stock market crash of 1929.

See the graph on page 28. According to this paper, the Toronto Stock Market exchange volume outgrew Montreal’s Stock Market by early 1930s.

Trading volume Montreal and Toronto Stock Exchanges 1926 - 1935

Interestingly, the PQ was elected long after the 1930s.


 Footnotes :

[1] About geopolitics, see Jean René Marcel Sauvé Géopolitique et Avenir du Québec, Éditons Guérin, 1994. It’s good for the brain.

[2] American urbanist Jane Jacobs, The Question of Separatism : Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty :

« Montreal used to be the chief metropolis, the national economic center of all of Canada. It is and older city than Toronto, and until only a few years ago, it was larger. At the beginning of this century Toronto was only two-thirds the size of Montreal, and Montreal was much the more important center of finance, publishing, wholesaling, retailing, manufacturing, entertainment -everything that goes into making a city economy.

The first small and tentative shifts of finance from Montreal to Toronto began in the 1920s when Montreal banks, enamored of the blue-chip investments of the time, overlooked the financing of new mining opportunities which were then opening up in Ontario. That neglect created an opportunity for Toronto banks. The stock exchange which was set up in Toronto for trading mining shares merged with the old generalized Toronto stock exchange in 1934, and by the 1940s the volume of stocks traded in Toronto had come to exceed the volume traded in Montreal.

During the great growth surge of Montreal, from 1941 to 1971, Toronto grew at a rate that was even faster. In the first of those decades, when Montreal was growing by about 20 per cent, Toronto was growing by a rate closer to 25 percent. In the next decade, when Montreal was adding a bit over 35 percent to its population, Toronto was adding about 45 percent. And from 1961 to 1971, while Montreal was growing by less than 20 percent, Toronto was growing by 30 percent. The result was that Toronto finally overtook Montreal in the late 1970s.

But even these measurements do not fully suggest what was happening economically. As an economic unit or economic force, Toronto has really been larger than Montreal for many years. This is because Toronto forms the center of a collection of satellite cities and towns, in addition to its suburbs. Those satellites contain a great range of economic activities, from steel mills to art galleries. Like many of the world’s large metropolises, Toronto had been spilling out enterprises into its nearby region, causing many old and formerly small towns and little cities to grow because of the increase in jobs. In addition to that, many branch plants and other enterprises that needed a metropolitan market and a reservoir of metropolitan skills and other producers to draw upon have established themselves in Toronto’s orbit, but in places where costs are lower or space more easily available.

The English call a constellation of cities and towns with this kind of integration a « conurbation », a term now widely adopted. Toronto’s conurbation, curving around the western end of Lake Ontario, has been nicknamed the Golden Horseshoe. Hamilton, which is the horseshoe, is larger than Calgary, a major metropolis of western Canada. Georgetown, north of Toronto, qualifies as only a small southern Ontario town, one of many in the conurbation. In New Brunswick it would be a major economic settlement.

Montreal’s economic growth, on the other hand, was not enough to create a conurbation. It was contained withing the city and its suburbs. That is why it is deceptive to compare population sizes of the two cities and jump to the conclusion that not until the 1970s had they become more or less equal in economic terms. Toronto supplanted Montreal as Canada’s chief economic center considerably before that, probably before 1960. Whenever it happened, it was another of those things that most of us never realized had happened until much later.

Because Toronto was growing more rapidly than Montreal in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and because so many of its institutions and enterprises now served the entire country, Toronto drew people not only from many other countries but from across Canada as well. The first two weeks I lived in Toronto back in the late 1960s, it seemed to me that almost everyone I encountered was a migrant from Winnipeg or New Brunswick. Had Montreal remained Canada’s pre-eminent metropolis and national center, many of these Canadians would have been migrating to Montreal instead. In that case, not only would Montreal be even larger than it is today, but -and this is important- it would have remained an English Canadian metropolis. Instead it had become more and more distinctively Quebecois.

In sum, then, these two things were occurring at once: on the one hand, Montreal was growing rapidly enough and enormously enough in the decades 1941-1971 to shake up much of rural Quebec and to transform Quebec’s culture too. On the other hand, Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe were growing even more rapidly. Montreal, in spite of its growth, was losing its character as the economic center of an English speaking Canada and was simultaneously taking on its character as a regional, French-speaking metropolis. »

[3] Again about those 99,000 anglos who left Montreal. As I argued, Toronto’s development had more to do with geopolitics than with separatism. Could we think that some of those anglos left, not because of separatism, but for other reasons like job transfer or new employment offer? Of course not! It is all because of the separatists…

22 réflexions au sujet de « Because of separatism, Toronto outgrew Montréal »

  1. lukeven

    It had more to do with the PQ language laws than seperatisim itself.

    Before the 70’s, all non-Catholics could only get educated in English. The laws made it impossible to conduct business in English, so they had to move their business out of Quebec.

      1. lukeven

        Yes, it’s not the only reason, it is one of many.

        Jewish immigants to Montreal, for example, didn’t want to be English more than French. They really didn’t have a choice.

        So when the language laws started, their only hope of being employed was to move to Toronto.

        1. Canada Libre

          « So when the language laws started, their only hope of being employed was to move to Toronto. »

          Even the monoligual anglos who stayed are no less employed than anyone else. That makes your fact a lie.

  2. I coincidenlty came across your site and know from nodogs

    Sure Toronto was growing fast before the seppies came to power, however, I don’t share your point of view on the fact that Montreal would have fallen down on its knees to Toronto even if the separatists had never come into the spectrum of existence. the city was the main port in canada, which basically was/still is open year round as opposed to Toronto, which is 6 to 8 month a year, and for that matter, it would be even more logical for Montreal to be main gateway and metropolis of Canada…I can agree with you to a certain extent that the T.O was also a booming machine enough to even up with Montreal but as I mentioned, it’s all a matter of who holds the « main port » for the big boats!

    Now, as I read throughout your article, I noticed you denied the fact the separatists and their beloved fascist laws played a huge role in it’s downfall, but there are some evidences which indicate that it did in fact bring some severe consequences over its brightness… take sun-life for instance, they even admitted on the news that the reason which triggered them to leave MTL for TOR was due the language law and there is no way you could ever possibly deny that, it’s a fact and there are even more proofs that prove likewise in other case scenarios, michel! Remember when Bombardier threatened to leave the province, this was also due the language law which the Quebec government was attempting to impose right on their nose. Luckily, they decided to drop the entire case, otherwise Bomb would be Headquartered in TORONTO right now…One last thing I’d like to add before I wrap this up, do you seriously think it was just a mere coincidence that the City went drastically straight down the hill when the PQ came to power for the first time??? Seems to me that separatists like you refuse to acknowledge the pain you have inflicted over this province economically. the way I see it, I believe you don’t want to see and admit the ugly truth that hides behind those camouflaging arguments posted up there, which is intended to propagate lies and blind people to the truth…you’re just as bad as those conspiracy theorists who spew their NWO nonsense all over the internet !

    separatists in denial of their own responsibilities and not willing to take the blame for what they did wrong…shame on all of you

    1. Michel Patrice Auteur de l’article

      Thank you for taking time to comment.

      According to anglos’s narrative, separatism is the first and only cause. My point is that separatism is not the only cause of the decline of Montreal, it is a cause among others.

      In another post, I acknowledge that separatism being one of the causes of Montreal’s decline is a rational argument :

      And the argument that our linguistic laws hurt our economy by driving anglophones and businesses out of Québec is a rational argument. Yet, francophones do not seem to care. Isn’t it strange? Why is that so?

      I see two tentative explanations.

      First, we tend to see our history as the history of our people as french quebeckers, more than, let’s say, the history of Montreal or of the territory. […] That Montreal of the 50s was economicaly thriving, we don’t really care since french canadians were not economicaly thriving. We see that our situation as a social group has improved over the decades. English Montrealers care a little more about the past economic thrive of Montreal because it was the thrive of their own social group. […]


    2. Canada Libre

      « .. seppies .. fascist laws .. ugly truth .. »

      This type of hatred and bigotry towards whoever do not submit to anglo supremacy is another important reason for Montréal decline.

      Thanks for giving a clear example of that.

  3. Septards are retards

    You are a separatists in denial of the fact that separatists did play a huge role in ruining MTL…sure Toronto was growng fast, but Mtl wouldn’t not be in miserable shape had not been of threats of separation, language laws and so on….a lot of buisiness left because of those Hitler-like tactics….You’re assumptions are no different than the ones of those who deny the holocaust…..same parallel…separatists deny the fact that they ruin the provincial’s economy just like some nazis deny the holocaust as a fact…

    1. Canada Libre

      Another important reason for Montréal decline is hatred and bigotry towards whoever do not submit to anglo supremacy. Blaming innocent persons unduly, comparing them to Nazis, etc. destroys the image of the city.

      Thanks for giving a clear example of that.

  4. amesprit

    And you, Septards, are you racist to the point that you can’t see the author of this article having been very humble and moderate in his point of view ? Can’t you see that your point of view is more extremist and less acknowledging of all cause of the socio-economic changes that happenned ? Who does the previous state benefit the most in Montreal ? Who for a full hundred year where banned to establish a francophone university in Quebec ? Who were not given the jobs by those who run English businesses in Quebec ? The language law, it is not a law against people who speak english, but a law to help those who speak french to have a way to use french to make a living… in the context of being in an environment surround by forces that want english to the only and main working language everywhere in Canada. Look at Ontario, Manitoba, N.B., where is now the futur for the french language in the workplace ? In museum in most of the communities that use to even have a majority of french speakers. You talk about racist, but very few francophone people in Quebec would dare to show so much racist as you did in your comment. Like little egoistic ill boy, accusing other of doing things that you do yourself tenthfold. But you probably don’t see it that way, yet. Hopefully other reader will not see through your comment the kind of extremist we get from people thinking like you which is a lot in lign with the propaganda you can often receive from some anglophone media, unfortunatly. Time to ban the use of monarchy slave symbols in Canada, starting with those on the dollars and those name like  »royal navy » etc. Same for the sermon of loyalty to the monarchy, even though you might be happy with it.

    1. Ardeth Patterson Norman

      Every word a lie. The non french catholic individuals controlled family size, got an education, travelled outside this ghetto, invested their money and did not allow their minds to be distorted by myths of priests and evil men like Lionel Groulx. I could list a thousand people and hundreds of businesses who left their home and the reason was hatred discrimination and bill 101. 38 of them were my own flesh and blood, they are thriving, paying taxes and telling the world the truth about queebeck. Everyone I know has a plan to leave. Last one out turn out the lights..

      1. Michel Patrice Auteur de l’article

        Ms Patterson Norman,

        I am glad that you got this off your chest.
        If every word is a lie, it will be easy to find counter arguments. My post is little long, simply pick one or two points and explain how I am wrong.

      2. Canada Libre

        Ardeth Patterson Norman « minds to be distorted by myths of priests »

        Here like most everywhere else in the world and in history, the (Catholic) church was serving the (anglo) masters into keeping the people servile and quiet. Its no wonder why the first thing we did when we started to take control during the Révolution Tranquille was to get rid of religion and everything got better from that point.

        I am sorry for your misery but that is nothing but the masters suffering from being equal to their servants and I have no compassion for that. If you care about mistreatments done in is country then let’s talk about the deportations, massacres, starvations, infections, internments, concentration camps, language apartheid, segregation and forced exiles imposed by your nation to every one who were in Canada before them.

  5. Robin Chase

    Montreal was the largest metropolitan area in Canada for a century and a half. There were several factors that turned Montreal into the second largest CMA in Canada, and much of it happened prior to 1976.

    In the 1960s, Montreal was not only the largest CMA in Canada and the largest French language metropolitan area in Canada but it was also the second largest English metropolis in Canada. Very few people realize this. The large cities in Canada that now (2021) have an English language population greater than Montreal are many, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa. That would mean that Montreal’s CMA English Mother Tongue population would stand at about 444,000 in 2016 (8th largest in Canada) according to Statistics Canada, which would make it slightly larger than the English Mother Tongue population of Kitchener, London, Ontario and Halifax.

    Montreal lost this English status that many francophones do not even know about. Before Law 101 came into being in 1977, about 85% of immigrant children went to English schools in Quebec. The fear among francophones was that if this trend continued, coupled with a low birth rate, they might find themselves a minority in their own province within a generation. Furthermore, Montreal’s predicted population in the 1960s was trending towards 5,5 to 7 million people by the year 2000 (Montreal’s CMA actual population in 2000 was about 3,500,000 people). This is why the law was put into effect. The ‘historical’ anglophone minority in Quebec could continue to send their children to English public schools (which are not funded by the Quebec government) as long as one parent went to an English school anywhere in Canada (thanks to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling), but once again, immigrants to Quebec could only choose between a French public school or an English private one (both of which are partly funded by the Quebec government). This had many repercussions as a lot of English public schools closed down because there was not an immigrant community to sustain it and they received no funding. What happened is that within a few years, 85% of immigrants to Quebec would put their children in French public schools, and so the francophone population kept growing in the province. The English population in the province decreased or became stagnant in the years to come.

    Sovereignty was a movement that occurred in Quebec well before the 1970s. It had been an issue since the time of the conquest and for years afterwards. When the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s occurred in Quebec, many things happened. One of the things that occurred was that francophones leaders began to take over important industries in the province, becoming ‘masters in our own house’ and very nationalist. What also happened however was that sovereignty was violent at the time. There were many mailbox bombings, riots during the ‘Fete National’ celebrations of 1968, bombings of English businesses like Murray Hill, and of course the FLQ’s kidnapping of James Cross and Pierre Laporte in October 1970 and the execution of the latter. The War Measures Act was tabled and soldiers patrolled the streets of Montreal. What all this did was create an environment that was uncertain for business. Companies like certainty and stability, and being in a city with all these events occurring was not good for the business environment. Furthermore, head offices in Montreal often dealt with clients across Canada and around the world that were anglophones, and so switching over their businesses so that they could get language certificates was not desirable for these corporations. Many of them left for Toronto because the business environment was stable and they could run their corporations in English. Not wanting to lose their customers in Quebec, these head offices became regional centres for the province.

    In 1971, Montreal was still the largest CMA (census metropolitan area) in Canada by several hundred thousand people over Toronto. Nineteen-Seventy-Six was the first year in a century and a half that any other CMA besides Montreal was the largest in Canada. Back then, both CMA’s had about 2,802,000 people, with Toronto holding a slight edge of several hundred people. It had been growing faster for at least a decade and was by then the financial centre of Canada, something that Montreal most likely shared with Toronto in the 1960s. Now, in 2021, Toronto’s CMA has about 6,400,000 people while Montreal’s has about 4,300,000 people. Several things happened during that time to give Toronto such a commanding lead. The most obvious is that Montreal was perceived, real or not, as an unwelcoming city for anglophones from other countries. When given the choice to send their children to French public schools or English private schools, neither option looked all that appealing. The vast majority of immigrants therefore chose to move to Toronto and to send their children to English language public schools, something that was not an option for them in Montreal. In the 2016 census, Montreal’s immigrant population that has neither French nor English as a Mother Tongue is about 910,000 people. Toronto’s non-English, non-French Mother Tongue population, on the other hand, was most likely smaller than Montreal’s in the 1960’s. In the 2016 census, Toronto’s non-English, non-French Mother Tongue population is 2,518,000 people.

    Perhaps Montreal would have lost its title of largest CMA in Canada eventually, but there would have been a larger sharing of power between the 2 cities, and Montreal’s population would have been much larger. It might not have the dominant francophone identity that it has today, as it would likely have been a bilingual city without Law 101. However, whether one city can handle being a major centre of both French and English Canada might have been too much for it to handle. Political problems and violence might have also occurred. Law 101 in Quebec is sacred, and so it is highly unlikely that Montreal will ever be a powerful English centre of Canada as it once was. If people in Quebec had the choice, they would most likely rather have a dominant francophone city rather than one that is bilingual. I believe that Montreal will be the 2nd largest CMA in Canada for years to come.

    1. Michel Patrice Auteur de l’article

      Thank you for taking some time to comment

      First, yes, you are right, independentism occured long before the 70s. Many seem to forget about this.

      Second, by 1971, Montréal was no longer the largest canadian metropolitan aera. If you look at Toronto’s population only, you are mislead in thinking that Montréal was still larger. You are forgetting the cluster of cities and towns surrounding Toronto. Here is a part of a map from 1921.

      [The complete map](

      The circle representing Toronto’s population is smaller than Montréal’s, but one can see that, by 1921, the total population of the cluster of cities and towns surrounding Toronto is already larger than the cluster of cities and towns surrounding Montréal.

      (I thought that Markdown worked, it doesn’t. click on the links to see the maps…)

  6. Robin Chase

    Hi Michel,

    So, when I write about Montreal having a larger CMA in 1971 than Toronto, I am taking into account the cities around Toronto. The concept that you’re talking about is the Megalopolis, when built up areas are connected. If you look at the map at the link that I have provided (,D.C.%2C%20along%20with%20their%20metropolitan%20areas%20and%20suburbs), you will see that Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington are all built up areas that could be called one Megalopolis of 50 million people. However, I would be surprised if the people of Boston thought of themselves as being in the same city or metropolitan area as New York, and so on. Taking your map into account, one can see that in 1921, the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, or built up area was well established. The question is, why would we include Hamilton as part of the Megalopolis of Toronto and not Kitchener? If we include Kitchener, why not London, Ontario, or Windsor, St Catherines, Peterborough or Niagara Falls? Even today, Hamilton, Kitchener and London or any of those other cities are not part of the Greater Toronto Area, or Toronto CMA, so I doubt they would have been in 1921. Furthermore, people in Hamilton, both in 1921 and today would hardly consider themselves part of the Toronto CMA. Where would it stop?

    With the reasoning that all built up areas form part of one Megalopolis, we could indeed conclude that both Montreal and Toronto, according to your 1921 map, are part of the same metropolitan area. We could extend it to Windsor and Quebec City and call themselves one Megalopolis of 18 million people. Just because Toronto forms part of the Golden Horseshoe area did not make its CMA larger than Montreal’s in 1971, because we cannot include cities that have their own CMA, such as Hamilton, St Catherines or Niagara, Kitchener or London, or Buffalo. Using your reasoning about the Megalopolis, according to Statistics Canada, even though they are considered separate CMA’s, it was only in 1961 that Toronto and Hamilton’s combined CMA’s surpassed that of Montreal (1,824,481 + 395,189 = 2,219,670 vs 2,109,509). Where you draw the line is important.

    According to the BBC (, between 1963 and 1970 there were 200 terrorist acts or incidents that occurred in Montreal targeting anglophones. It was not a few acts, it was a lot more. This drove business and people out of Montreal and into Toronto where it was safer. This might have happened right away, but it explains why Montreal’s growth rate dropped considerably after 1971. Furthermore, according to the documentary ‘The Rise and Fall of English Montreal’, 300,000 people left the city in 20 years, most likely from about 1971 to 1991. We can most likely assume that at least 200,000 of those people moved to Toronto. Next, according to a UN population projection chart (, a conservative estimate of Montreal’s population, if it had followed the trend between 1950 and 1971 would have given it a CMA population of 5,000,000 by 2010. For those who believe that this population trend extended everywhere in Canada, we can clearly see that Toronto’s population ( did not experience the same sort of dip and it’s population recovered quite a bit by 1982. By these calculations, the Toronto CMA would only have become larger than Montreal’s in the 2001 Census, a full 25 years later than when it actually occurred in 1976.

    The biggest jump in Montreal’s population would have been those people who spoke neither English nor French as a Mother Tongue. Without language laws, such as Law 101, 85% of these newcomers would have chosen English public schools. This would mean that Montreal grew by 56,419 people a year between 1971 and today, a theory that is not out of place, considering that Montreal’s population grows by nearly 40,000 today and has for several years. To believe that without Law 101 that discouraged immigrants from moving to Montreal and the numerous acts against anglophones that limited the size of their community, Montreal could have grown by an extra 16,000 people a year is not unreasonable. What is difficult to believe is that Montreal’s francophone community would have okay with English Montreal’s rising population to higher levels than ever before (growing to 1,000,000 people by 2016) and immigrants to Quebec going to English public schools. Would this have occurred? Would French Montreal have allowed themselves to become a minority in the CMA without putting up a fight? That is a tougher question to answer. I don’t believe French Montreal would have wanted a larger, more powerful CMA if it came at the price of French becoming a minority in the city. The price for many francophones would have been too high. The 200 incidents happened for a reason, and it would be difficult to imagine Montreal with a minority French community. It would have upset many people.

    1. Michel Patrice Auteur de l’article

      True, where you draw the line has its importance to compare the growth of the two cities. And I guess that we will not agree on how and where to draw that line.

      Maybe another criteria? What about the stock trade volume in Montréal stock exchange compared to stock trade volume in Toronto stock exchange as a criteria for financial capital of Canada? Would this be a better and a more objective criteria? Or perhaps the number of people working in banks and financial institutions?

      (You wrote : « What is difficult to believe is that Montreal’s francophone community would have been okay with English Montreal’s rising population to higher levels than ever before […] and immigrants to Quebec going to English public schools. Would this have occurred? Would French Montreal have allowed themselves to become a minority in the CMA without putting up a fight? »

      What would have happened? It is not a hypothetical question, it was happening and what what would have francophones done? They would have done just what they did : they voted bill 101 and sent immigrants children to french school.)


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