Canada PM Trudeau celebrates Montreal's 375th

 17 May 2017 - 20:30

AFP

Montreal:  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday celebrated the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, "one of the biggest francophone cities in the world."

In May 1642, French settlers led by soldier Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, and nurse Jeanne Mance established a trading post at Ville-Marie on an island in the St. Lawrence that indigenous peoples called Hochelaga.

"Could they have imagined that this small French colony, its survival uncertain, would become the metropolis that we know today -- mixed and open to the world," Trudeau said in a speech in the city's old port district.

The bells of all the churches in the city sounded in unison earlier in the day to kick off festivities, with the mayor, Denis Coderre, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in attendance.

Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec noted that the island was not barren when the first Europeans landed in the Americas. It was already a bustling "metropolis" as far back as 6,375 years ago where aboriginals gathered and traded goods.

Several events are planned for the year-long celebration, including the illumination of the omni-present Jacques Cartier bridge to the mainland, which links colors and sounds to people's smartphones.