Traces. Places. Memories.

…-1641 : First Peoples

More than 13,000 years ago, the first humans reach North America. But at that time the Montreal region was under a thick layer of ice. Little by little, as the glacier recedes, the Champlain Sea forms. The water level eventually drops and Montreal Island appears. The oldest hints of human presence are from around 4000 years ago, when groups of hunter-gatherers visit the island. Around the year 1000, the region’s inhabitants turn to agriculture. Their descendants greet Jacques Cartier on Montreal Island in 1535.

There are in this village about fifty houses, built all of wood. Some of them are fifty paces long and twelve or fifteen broad. They are covered over with the bark and skin of trees...

Jacques Cartier, 1535.

A key event

First Contact

Two people. Two cultures that meet and clash. The first known contact between the St. Lawrence Iroquoians and Europeans is made in 1534, in Gaspé Bay. It is only the following autumn, that Jacques Cartier sets out on a short expedition. He goes upriver until he reaches the island of Montreal, where he comes upon the village of Hochelaga. He remains there for just a day.

What's left from this era?

Archaeological sites

Dozens of archaeological sites on the island of Montréal bear witness to the presence of indigenous peoples. In 1996–97, digs beneath the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel revealed traces of a Native campsite that was more than 2400 years old. Archaeologists have also unearthed traces of a quarry on Mount Royal, used for centuries by First Nations to obtain hornfels, a stone essential for making edged tools. This site is still accessible where Avenue Mont-Royal meets Voie Camillien-Houde.