Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Circulation: A classic film about Montreal traffic (feat. Jean Drapeau)

Read more articles by

Editor: Spacing has partnered with the National Film Board of Canada to showcase films from their new online screening room. Matt Forsythe of the NFB is occasionally posting films here on Spacing that explore our public spaces, Canadian or international cities and anything urban.

Kyle MacDonald
suggests this great film from 1955 about the challenges of managing Montreal traffic. Kyle writes:

The fun action starts around 4:00 with elected Montreal officials detailing their plans to alleviate traffic congestion in the city. Kinda neat considering the current election focus on transportation, and the discussion around the Turcot. These are the guys who set the stage for what exists now. ‘Circulation’ is seen from the problem/solution perspective, and the footage shows ‘problem’ areas, in what would be considered very low traffic volumes today!

The film also features a hilarious relief map of Mont Royal and surrounding areas and an appearance by Jean Drapeau – the mayor responsible for the construction of the Montreal Metro system. NOTE: We checked the archives and there doesn’t appear to be a version with English subtitles yet.



  1. Hey guys – this is not a “French Film” as that would have been a film produced in France. This is an NFB film, from Canada, in the French language. That’s an important distinction to make.

  2. Despite their well-intentioned car-free-for-all plan, the mayor Jean Drapeau makes some excellent points – congestion (and therefore transportation) affect the economic well-being of a city; one should never just plan for today but for the future, everwhile avoiding create more problems – which, unfortunately, many currently at Montreal City Hall have yet to grasp.

    What is also striking is that, after 65 years, the downtown can still only be accessed by 2 roads: du Parc and Cà´te-des-Neiges; the bus, the roads all jammed. What progress!

  3. Hm. While trying to find this post again it has come to my attention:

    You guys have 2 NFB “categories”, as well as a video category, and a montreal category, and a traffic category.

    Yet this video is only in 1 of the above…. I think the “Montreal” tag is reserved for Montreal Mondays, which makes sense. Anyway. Just an observation, I know it’s hard to predict how the user goes about looking for something. I should have just searched with the term “Drapeau”