History of the Old Port | Old Port of Montréal

The Quays of the Old Port are steeped in history. The first colonists arrived here on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, and it was thanks to the port that old Ville-Marie grew into the thriving international metropolis of modern-day Montreal.

Origins: 1642-1930

1642 Montréal is founded by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve. The Lachine rapids prevented him from sailing further west, so he likely anchored at what is today the Old Port.
1760 The fur trade expands and the first port facilities are built. Instead of landing on muddy river banks, merchants build temporary wooden docks along the shore.
1809 The Accommodation becomes the first steamship to offer regular service between Montréal and Quebec City. It departs from the pier of John Molson, owner of the vessel, west of the Bonsecours Chapel.
1825 Official opening of the Lachine Canal, which made it possible to sail up the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes.
1830 The Montréal Harbour Commission is created to enlarge the port and improve facilities. The first phase of this work would take place over the next 20 years.
1850 A canal is dredged between Montréal and Lac Saint-Pierre. The Port of Montréal is now able to accommodate transoceanic ships. The railway industry begins to flourish.
1859 Victoria Bridge is opened, allowing trains to cross the river. Montréal becomes Canada’s primary hub for rail and maritime transport.
1886 The first transcontinental train departs from the port.
1898 The federal government allocates one million dollars to upgrade port facilities. Major infrastructure built during this period includes concrete quays, steel storage sheds, docks and grain elevators.
1922 Clock Tower is inaugurated and cold-storage warehouse is opened. Montréal is the most important grain port in the world.
1928 Annual tonnage reaches its peak: over 12.5 million tonnes of merchandise transit the Port of Montréal.
1930 Inauguration of the Montréal Harbour Bridge, renamed the Jacques-Cartier Bridge a few years later.
1959 Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Ocean-going vessels can now reach the Great Lakes without stopping in Montréal. The port experiences a drop in activity.
1963 Old Montréal is declared a historic district.
1970 Lachine Canal is closed to shipping.
1976 The Port is moved farther east, putting an end to port activities in Old Montréal. The Port of Montréal specializes in handling containers and soon receives its one millionth container.
1977 The Canadian government announces its intention to redevelop the area left vacant by the port’s move. Subsequent years see public consultations on its future vocation.
1981 The Old Port of Montréal Corporation is established. A linear park is created along Rue de la Commune, and six of the eight rail lines are removed.
1982 Clock Tower is restored. Grain Elevator No. 1 (near the entrance to Alexandra Quay) is demolished to improve access to the river, in accordance with public wishes.
1987 The Old Port of Montréal Corporation master plan is submitted and approved, advocating the enhancement of the site and its rediscovery by Montréalers.
1989 The Old Port site gets a makeover: development plans and work on the Bonsecours Basin, the Jacques-Cartier Quay and other facilities.
1992 Inauguration of the “New Old Port of Montréal” on the 350th anniversary of Montréal’s founding.
2000 The Montréal Science Centre opens on May 1.
2002 Lachine Canal reopens to pleasure boaters.
2005 The government and Old Port of Montréal Corporation adopt the 2005–2015 Vision Development, a plan to enhance the Old Port’s recreational, tourism and cultural infrastructure.
Today The Old Port welcomes six million visitors annually


By phone

(514) 496-PORT (7678)


1 800 971-PORT (7678)

Postal address

Old Port of Montreal Corporation inc.,

333, de la Commune West

Montreal (Quebec) H2Y 2E2 Canada


(514) 283-5256

Contact Media

(For journalists only)


Marketing and Business relations Director

333, de la Commune West

Montreal (Quebec) H2Y 2E2 Canada

Tel. : 514838-2658