Until Toronto merged with six surrounding cities in 1998, Montreal was the largest city in Canada.
The population of the wider Montreal metropolitan area is 4,098,927 (2016 data) and the population of the islands of Montreal is 2,006,966 (2016 data).
Montreal is a Francophone city and, for many years, the Montreal metro area was considered to be the world’s second largest French speaking city. Today, however, the Montreal metro ranks fourth, after Kinshasa (DR Congo), Paris (France) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
Montreal Metro population
Although the Montreal City population is 1,704,694, the population of the wider Montreal metro area, sometimes also known as Greater Montreal is much larger. In 2016, the latest date for which ￼Statistics Canada￼ has provided demographic information the population was 4,098,927.
Montreal islands population
The population of the islands of Montreal passed the two million mark for the first time in 2016, to reach a total of 2,006,966 people. (Source: ￼Institut de la statistique du Québec￼).
Montreal population growth
Montreal suffered three decades of population decline in the late 20th century (its population fell from 1.29 million in 1966 to just 1.02 million in 1996. The decline was caused in part by the separatist sentiment in Quebec, which caused many English speaking people (anglophones) to leave the city.
That decline appeared to be reversed when the city merged with other municipal regions on the island of Montreal. Overnight, the city’s official population jumped to 1.6 million people and has continued to grow steadily since.
Between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, Montreal’s population grew by 3.34%, making it one of the slowest growing major cities in Canada.
The table below lists the population of Montreal city and the Montreal metro area at the time of each Canadian census, starting with 1871.
|Census Year||City||Metro area|
Montreal population density
The city of Montreal covers 365.13 km2. With a population of 1,704,694 in 2016, Montreal’s population density is 3,889.8 people per km2.
The Montreal Metropolitan area covers 4,098.9 km2. Its population density in 2016 was 890.2 people per km2.
French is the most commonly spoken first language in Montreal. The wider Montral Metropolitan area is considered to be the fourth largest French speaking city in the world.
In 2011 70.4% of people in Montreal spoke French at home, 14.0% spoke English at home and 16.6% spoke another language.
In recent years, the proportion of people in Montreal who speak either English or French as their first language has been gradually decline. French has declined from 71.2% in 1996 to 70.4% in 2011, and English has declined from 15.4% to 14.0%.
Over the same time period, the proportion of people speaking another language at home has increased, from 13.4% in 1996 to 16.6% in 2011.
The most commonly spoken languages other than French or English are Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Creole, Greek and Chinese.
Just over half (53.4%) of the population of Montreal are French-English bilingual.
Ethnicity in Montreal
The 2011 Canadian census recorded information on visible minority groups. In Montreal, 20.3% of people reported that they were from a visible minority, which is just above the Canadian average of 19.1%. The largest visible minority groups in Montreal were Black, Arab and Latin American.
A detailed breakdown from 2011 is not available, but in 2006, the largest single population group in Montreal was White (67.7%), followed by Black (9.1%) and Arab (6.4%). The total aboriginal population in Montreal was recorded at 2.5%.
In 2011 there were 846,600 immigrants in Montreal – that’s 22.6% of the city’s population.
Detailed information on ethnic origins is also available from the 2006 census.
Canadian was the most widely reported ethnic origin – by 47% of people in Montreal. Others in the top five were French (26%), Italian (7%), Irish (6%) and English (4%).
Other smaller groups of note are North American Indian (2%) and Québécois (2%).
Religion in Montreal
Because of its French history, Montreal is predominately a Roman Catholic city. Statistics from the 2011 census show 52.8% of people in Montreal are Roman Catholic, 5.9% are Protestant and 3.7% are Orthodox Christian.
Among broader religious groups, 65.8% of the Montreal population is Christian. Other commonly followed religions are Islam (9.6%), Judaism (2.4%), Buddhism (2.0%) and Hinduism (1.4%).
A further 18.4% of Montreal residents have no religious affiliation.