|City nickname: "Festival Capital, The City of a Hundred Steeples"|
Location of Ville-Marie
- Total (as of 2005)
- summer (DST)
|Eastern standard time (UTC-)|
Ville-Marie is the largest city in the Intendancy of New Francy as well as its economic capital. According to the 2005 census, the population of the island is nearly 4 million inhabitants.
The city contains the largest concentration of native Francian speakers in the Intendancy. They are still the minority, as a slight majority of residents are native Laurentian speakers and bilingualism is quite common.
Ville-Marie earned its nickname of "Festival Capital" due to the inordinate number of festivals organized each year during the 3 summer months. This includes the Montreal Jass Festival, Just Kidding (humour galas), The World Film Festival and others. Over the years Ville-Marie has also played host to some international sporting events, the most famous of which being the World Games in 1976. These events as well as a relaxed attitude toward morality help give Ville-Marie the allure of a sinful city.
All the partying however is counterbalanced by a suprisingly low crime rate, the biggest concentration of post-secondary students in a north-american metropolis and the largest number of churches per-capita. This last fact is responsible for the other nickname of Ville-Marie: "The City of a Hundred Steeples".
Ville-Marie is situated in the south western corner of New-Francy approximately 168 miles southwest of the capital. Due to annexation over the years, Ville-Marie now covers the whole of the Island of Montreal and its surrounding islands. The Port of Ville-Marie lies at one end of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which is the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes up to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Island of Montreal was originaly inhabited by native tribes such as the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois. The first european settlement was built under the guidance of the Samuel de Champlain in 1608. The establishment was built under the auspices of the Company of Our Lady whose purpose was the evengelization of the natives and was self-financed through the fur trade. The first winter proved to be colder then any of the settlers had ever seen. Being deeply religious, Champlain promised to erect a cross at the top of Mount-Royal if they survived. No one died (which was considered a miracle) and the following summer, a large wooden cross was erected on the highest point of the mountain. It became a tradition for the the Intendant (later mayor) of Ville-Marie to lead a procession every summer to replace the cross with a new one.
The French had to fight off attacks by the Iroquois for almost a hundred years until the peace treaty known as "the Great Peace of Mount Royal". Except for skirmishes fought against their european rivals (and some of the tribes armed by them), Ville-Marie managed to thrive in the following decades.
Like the rest of the Intendancy, the majority of the population sided with the monarchists during the French Revolution. Being closer to the Pays-d'en-haut, the city became the headquarters for troops sent raiding down south to harass republican forces from Louisianna.
While the loss of French traffic created an economic depression, the immigration that followed the Pays-d'en-haut becoming independent lead to a boom. To benefit from this traffic even more, the Intendant of Ville-Marie had major work performed near the area now called Lachine to build a water elevator. The northern passage around the island was too shallow and the southern one plagued by rapids, this was the only solution to enable ships to continue on into the Great Lakes. By charging ships a usage fee for the elevator, the local authorities were able to renovate the port and its surrounding area.
The early 19th century also saw the arrival of many French royalists dissatisfied with the Napoleonic empire and later on the Second Republic. These immigrants built the first university in Ville-Marie: "l'Université Magritte". Another famous landmark for which they were responsible is the League of Noble Emigrees's Meeting Hall in Centre-Ville.
The concentration of money in the city meant financial institutions relocated their head offices from the capital and to this day, "Rue Saint-Jacques" (site of the Ville-Marie stock exchange) is synonymous with New Francy's finances. Around this time, it was decided to replace the wooden cross on Mount-Royal with a larger, permanent white metallic one. The tradition of going up to the mountain once a year remained however, with the mayor symbolicly giving it the first brushstroke of fresh paint.
While the city remained away from outside conflicts over the years, it nevertheless saw a fair share of local riots, most notably the violent pro-involvment demonstrations during the 2 Great Wars (lead by the local zouaves) and the "Roquet Riot". This last one began when a famous local sportsman (Maurice Roquet) was evicted from a hibercross match for supposedly racist reasons: both he (a laurentian) and a francophone athlete had gotten into a fist-fight but only Roquet was evicted.
The 1950's was an era of expansion for Ville-Marie. Under the leadership of Mayor Rejan Banniere, the city built an underground train system, a Sports Village, more expressways, more museums and taller buildings. Banniere also managed to convince the Intendant to enlarge the Saint Lawrence Waterway (to allow the passage of more and larger ships).
One project that was less well received however was the Grand Amalgame. Under the slogan of "One Island, One City", the mayor manage to convince the authorities of the Intendance to allow Ville-Marie to annex all the other towns on the Island and its surrounding islands. While a few had willingly joined up over the years (usually to avoid bankruptcy), his project called for a forced merger. The Intendant accepted and Ville-Marie gained the territory it now possesses.
For its 300th anniversary, the old cross was enlarged and electric illumination added. In addition to being highly visible at night (and from outside the island), the colours of the lights change over the year, going from purple (during Lent) to blue (feast of Marie) to green & red during Feasts Time (late December to early January).
The head of the city government is the mayor ("maire" in french) who is chosen from the echevins. Each echevin is the elected head of one of the 40-odd boroughs ("faubourgs" in french) that constitute the island. The mayor and the echevins together form the city council which is responsible for approving policies and enacting by-laws.
Various commitees (public safety, recycling, water, etc...) exist that report to the council. These are made up of directly elected individual and public servants appointed by the Intendancy's government.