Montreal population density since 1971

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This map, which comes courtesy of Statistics Canada, shows the evolution of Montreal’s population density since 1971. Basically, what you can see is that Montreal has become significantly less dense over the years. Between 1971 and 1991, high-density zones shrunk while the city sprawled outwards; since 1991, things have been more or less stable.

Some of this has to do with depopulation, especially in working-class neighbourhoods that fell on hard times in the 1970s and 80s. But most of it comes thanks to a decrease in household size; while a typical Plateau apartment would have been home to an entire extended family before the 1970s, only a professional couple or small family would live there now.

The same trend can be seen in Toronto, where population densities dropped in the immigrant-rich west end. Unlike Montreal, though, Toronto’s density decline stopped in the 1990s and actually began to reverse itself. Downtown Toronto is now more densely-populated than it has ever been, thanks mostly to a huge condo boom that has added tens of thousands of residents to the area. The same thing has occurred in Vancouver, which has only gotten denser and denser as the years have gone by.


  1. great map. interesteing to see. I’d like to see a lot more residential apartment blocks and towers being built downtown in the years to come. As a developer I am accutely aware that to enhance the livelihood and 24 hr activity of the city center and downtown core especially, higher density quality residential projects are key. Moreover, they are lacking in downtown Montreal. I’d like to see mixed use developments in particular; I believe that they are the future in Montreal and the best business model in order to build beautiful buildings architecturally, using quality materials, that are also commerically successful.

  2. Beautiful way of presenting statistics compared to old-fashioned tables.
    Would it be so great though if Montreal centre was densely carpeted in 28 floor buildings? perhaps there is an optimal central density? Of course, it is good for tax revenues and perhaps for transit use, although more densely populated surburbs is probably the best,

  3. High-rises don’t necessarily make a pleasant high-density neighborhood. As an example, the Plateau, often described as the densest neighborhood in North America, is characterized by short 3-4 story buildings. Making a dense, yet human-scale living environment where mixed uses can actually interact.

  4. I’m doing a small amoun of research. I have never been to Montreal, but I was wondering if someone could tell me the population of Montreal in 1969.

    I then want to compare the population with Victoria B.C. for the same year, but I can find that out at a different site…..david

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