The rise of the separatist movement in Quebec during the 1970’s and the imposition of language laws requiring French as the operating language of companies hurt the growth of Montreal very badly.Although Toronto and Montreal had about the same population in the 1950s, nowadays Toronto has about 6 million people while Montreal has only about 4 million.Many head offices moved out of Montreal to Toronto since they could no longer operate in English in Montreal.
Although Toronto is by far the largest head office centre for Canada, I know of some companies that moved from Montreal to Calgary.In fact Calgary now has more head offices than Montreal, despite the fact it only has 1/3 of the population.Actually, I worked for some French companies in Calgary.
Their main operating language worldwide was English, but we supported our French clientele in French and our South American clientele in Spanish.If somebody wanted support in Swahili or Russian we could handle that, too.There is no law against operating in French or any other language in Toronto or Calgary, but there are laws against operating in any language other than French in Montreal.
This is a critical factor for large national and multinational companies since English has become the de-facto operating language for many large companies in Canada and world-wide.The rather hostile attitude toward immigrants in Quebec has also slowed the rate of immigration into Montreal and the vast majority of immigrants now prefer to go to Toronto and Vancouver.
Only about 50 years ago.A quick check of the demographic histories of Montreal and Toronto shows that in 1951, they were about equal, yet by 1961, Toronto had surpassed Montreal when it broke past 1.8 million in population.Montreal’s population fell during the 70’s due to political instability – a provincial government who’s mandate was separatism and a very close referendum led to a mass exodus of anglophones, immigrants, and businesses.
Montreal was, before this, the corporate headquarters of most large Canadian corporations – many companies then moved to Ottawa, Toronto, or out west if the bulk of their business was out there (i.e.mining and petrochemical companies).
For one thing, it’s much easier to do business in Toronto.The restrictions on English that have existed in Quebec since the 1970’s are also an issue.(Disclaimer 1: I speak French well enough that I’m often taken for a native speaker.
Toronto 6.3 million I believe (last census) Montreal 4.15 million (last census)