Montreal has an excellent harbor on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the city to the great industrial centers of the Great Lakes. As Canada's most important port, it is a transshipment point for oil, grain, sugar, machinery, and manufactured goods. It is also an important railway hub, and has two international airports, Dorval and Mirabel. Its underground rail system, the Métro, was inaugurated in 1966. The city's industries include pharmaceuticals, high-technology, steel, electronic equipment, refined petroleum, transportation equipment, textiles, clothing, food and beverages, printed materials, and tobacco. It is also a financial service center, which greatly expanded in the 1980s.
Once Canada's preeminent city, Montreal has been eclipsed by Toronto as the country's economic center. Tensions over Quebec's insistence on enforcing its francophone culture have caused an outmigration of English-speaking people to Ontario and to the growing western provinces. Despite these changes, Montreal remains one of North America's great cosmopolitan cities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.