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Geography of Montreal

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Title: Geography of Montreal  
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Subject: Geography of Montreal, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Economy of Montreal, Montréal 2025, Municipal government of Montreal
Collection: Geography of Montreal
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Geography of Montreal

Montreal is a city located in the province of Quebec in Canada. The Geography of Montreal is very diverse. Montreal contains two rivers, and 10 geographical regions. There are four distinct seasons in Montreal, each with different temperatures and weather. The levels of sunshine and precipitation vary with each season annually. The citizens of Montreal also have a unique way of determining directions.


  • Geographic location 1
  • Geology 2
  • Street directions 3
  • Climate 4
    • Winter 4.1
    • Spring 4.2
    • Summer 4.3
    • Autumn 4.4
    • Sunshine 4.5
    • Precipitation 4.6
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Geographic location

Montreal is located in the southwest of the province of Quebec, approximately 275 kilometres (171 mi) southwest of Quebec City, the provincial capital, and 167 kilometres (104 mi) east of Ottawa, the federal capital. It also lies 502 kilometres (312 mi) northeast of Toronto, 407 kilometres (253 mi) northwest of Boston and 530 kilometres (330 mi) directly north of New York City.[1]

The city is located on the central and eastern portions of the Island of Montreal, the largest island in the Hochelaga Archipelago, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The port of Montreal lies at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which is the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean.[2] Montreal is defined by its location in between the St. Lawrence river on its south, and by the Rivière des Prairies on its north. The city is named after the most prominent geographical feature on the island, a three-head hill called Mount Royal.[3]

Montreal is at the centre of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, and is bordered by the city of Laval to the north, Longueuil to the south, Repentigny to the east and the West Island municipalities to the west. The anglophone enclaves of Westmount, Montreal West, Hampstead, Côte Saint-Luc, the Town of Mount Royal and the francophone enclave Montreal East are all entirely surrounded by the city of Montreal.[4]


There are ten main geological regions in Quebec: the great igneous plains of the Canadian Shield, the Appalachians in southern Quebec, and the St. Lawrence lowlands that lie between them. Covering over 95% of Quebec, the Canadian Shield contains some of the oldest igneous rocks in the world, dating back to the Precambrian period, over 1 billion years ago. The Canadian Shield is generally quite flat and exposed, punctuated by the higher relief of mountain ranges such as the Laurentians in southern Quebec. The Appalachian region of Quebec is a thin strip of weathered mountains along Quebec's southeast border. The Appalachian mountain chain is actually a long range that runs from Alabama north to Newfoundland. The St. Lawrence lowlands are comparatively tiny in size (about 17 280 square kilometres) but disproportionately important in that they contain most of the human population of Quebec. The lowlands actually consist of three parts: the central lowlands, or the St. Lawrence Plain, a wide and flat triangle extending from Cornwall to Quebec City. The St. Lawrence Plain is almost entirely flat because of the clay deposits left behind by the Champlain Sea (which once covered all of Montreal).

Street directions

One quirk of common Montreal parlance is that directions (north, south, east, and west) along the street grid are sharply skewed relative to the actual compass directions. The St. Lawrence River is taken as flowing west to east (even though it flows north or northeast past the island), so that directions along streets parallel to the river are referred to as "west" and "east," and those along streets perpendicular to the river, "north" and "south." In much of Montreal, "north" is actually northwest, and in some areas such as Verdun and Pointe-aux-Trembles it is actually due west. "Montreal directions" are used in naming street addresses and describing bus routes, among other things. As a result of this discrepancy, Montreal has been called "the only city where the sun sets in the north."

Further folk naming customs refer to "up" and "down," "up" being towards Mount Royal and "down" being towards the St. Lawrence, but the system can be confused on the north side of the mountain (whether "up" means uphill, i.e. Montreal "south," or towards Montreal "north" as it does downtown).[5]

Streets are named "Ouest" or "Est" when they cross Saint Laurent Boulevard. Street numbers rise eastward and westward from Saint Laurent Boulevard, and northward from the St. Lawrence River and the Lachine Canal. (A few streets in Le Sud-Ouest borough, such as rue Charlevoix, cross the Lachine Canal. In those cases, the addresses south of the Lachine Canal have an "O" prefixed to their street numbers.)


Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada

Montreal lies at the confluence of several climatic regions. Usually, the climate is classified as humid continental or hemiboreal (Köppen climate classification Dfb).

Precipitation is abundant with an average snowfall of 2.09 metres (82 inches) per year in the winter. Regular rainfall throughout the year averages 785 mm (30.9 inches). Summer is the wettest season statistically, but it is also the sunniest.

The coldest month of the year is January, with a daily average temperature of −9.7 °C (14.5 °F) — averaging a daily low of −14.0 °C (6.8 °F), colder than either Moscow (−10 °C) or Saint Petersburg (−6 °C). Due to wind chill, the perceived temperature can be much lower than the actual temperature, and wind chill factor is often included in Montreal weather forecasts. The warmest month is July with an average daily high of 26.3 °C (79.3 °F); lower nighttime temperatures make an average of 21.2 °C (70.2 °F), thus air exchangers often achieve the same result as air conditioners. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −37.8 °C (−36.0 °F) on 15 January 1957 and the highest temperature ever was 37.6 °C (99.7 °F) on 1 August 1975.[6] High humidity is common in the summer, which makes the perceived temperature higher than the actual temperature. In spring and autumn, rainfall averages between 55 and 94 millimetres (2.2 and 3.7 inches) a month. Some snow in spring and autumn is normal. Similarly, late heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are a regular feature of the climate.[7]

2006 was noted as the only year in the history of Montreal when there was more rain than there was snow. There were 122.3 cm (48.1 in) of snow, and there were 122.5 cm (48.2 in) of rain. That year, Montreal received more rain than Vancouver, British Columbia.[8][9]


Winter in Montreal is often cold and snowy, and can be windy at times. Most days stay near or below freezing, and temperatures remain well below freezing at night. Sometimes with windchill, temperatures may feel colder than the actual temperature. Typical winter daytime temperatures are between 2 °C and −8 °C (18 °F and 36 °F) and overnight temperatures are between −10 °C and −15 °C (6 °F and 13 °F). Temperatures in the downtown core can be warmer than those in the northwestern suburbs by up to 5 °C (9 °F) due to the urban heat island effect. Some days are milder with temperatures staying well above freezing; conversely, night temperatures occasionally plunge below −20 °C (−4 °F), especially with windchill. Montreal receives plenty of snow throughout the winter season. Snow mainly falls between early December and early March, although it mostly snows in January and February. Although it is rare, light snow could fall in late October and April. Average yearly snowfall is 209 cm (82 inches). Despite plenty of snow during winter, Montreal is seeing an increasing amount of rain rather than snow during the winter. But Montreal still sees plenty of days with sunshine compared to other places at similar latitudes, or even farther south, and more winter sunshine than anywhere else in northern and northwestern Europe. Precipitation occurs between 13 and 17 days per month, including an average of 59 days of snowfall.


Spring in Montreal ranges from chilly to warm weather. Spring-like weather, in Montreal standards, usually arrives in mid-March, sometimes earlier or later, with temperatures around 2 °C to 5 °C (36 °F to 42 °F), but the weather is very unpredictable. April brings temperatures between 8 °C and 15 °C (46 °F and 59 °F), but hot humid weather and snow are possible in the same week. Trees usually start leafing out during the last week of the month. May is a rather warm month. Temperatures are usually in the high teens °C (60's °F) during the first week, but by the last week of the month the weather is warm enough to herald warm summer days, with temperatures around 21 °C (70 °F). Spring is also slightly sunnier than autumn. Precipitation occurs on average between 12 and 14 days per month.


The summer months of June all the way to mid-September bring warm and hot humid weather. Average daytime temperatures stay between 24 °C and 28 °C (75 °F and 82 °F) and overnight temperatures around 16 °C (60 °F). However, temperatures reach and even exceed 30 °C (86 °F) on many days; combined with high humidity, it feels much hotter. Some nights, temperatures remain at an uncomfortable 20 °C (68 °F). While summer is the sunniest season, short-lived thunderstorms are also common. Rain typically occurs on average between 12 and 13 days per month.


Autumn is similar to springtime weather-wise. Temperatures start to cool off towards the end of September, allowing for brilliant fall foliage in October. Daytime temperatures in October are around 13 °C (55 °F), and in November hover at 6 °C (43 °F). Late autumn receives slightly less sunshine than early spring. Autumn usually turns to winter in early December. Precipitation occurs on average between 12 and 15 days per month.


Montreal and the southern Quebec region receive slightly over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, with summer being the sunniest season. The sunniest month is July with 272 hours, and the least sunny is December with 84 hours. Montreal receives more sunshine than northern and northwestern Europe, even in locations as similar or even somewhat farther south latitudes, especially during winter and throughout the year.


The city's average annual precipitation is 1000 mm (39.4 inches), including 785 mm (30.9 inches) of rain and 209 cm (82 inches) of snow. Like the rest of the Northeastern U.S. and most of Southeastern Canada, precipitation is spread evenly throughout the year, with no wet or dry seasons. Montreal has 163 days annually with some rain or snow. Thunderstorms could occur anywhere between late spring through early autumn.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Chodos, Alan. Welcome to Montréal, Where Down is Up and the Sun Sets in the North. APS Physics. Accessed July 1, 2011.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ Montreal Monthly Data Report for 2006
  9. ^ Vancouver Monthly Data Report for 2006
  10. ^

External links

  • 3920 aerial photographs of the Island of Montreal, 1947-1949 from the Archives de la Ville de Montréal
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