If you’re new to Montreal, it’s important to understand that this is a city of neighbourhoods. One of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in North America, Montreal has its English-speaking communities and then it has its French neighbourhoods. And then you have a whole spectrum of ethnic neighbourhoods populated primarily by first and second generation immigrants. And while Montreal truly is a melting pot of cultures, there are suburbs like Westmount that insist on preserving their own distinct identity.
What’s up in Westmount?
Let’s start with the price of real estate. But seriously, Westmount has long been one of the most affluent communities in all of Canada.
Today, Westmount still rivals the most expensive neighbourhoods of Toronto and Vancouver, even as real estate prices in Montreal have remained fairly modest compared to those busier cities. In March 2019, the average house price in Montreal was $353,400. Compare that to the Westmount suburb where the median price of a 3-bedroom house is nearly four times that, around $1.3 million. But a modestly sized 3-bedroom is not easy to come by here.
Historically, Westmount has always been an anglophone enclave in the French-Canadian city of Montreal. As such, Westmount has held this as an excuse to resist being amalgamated into the city of Montreal. Debate on this topic has been contentious at times, but for now, Westmount maintains its independence from the francophone metropolis.
Where exactly is Westmount?
The Island of Montreal sits at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and the Ottawa Rivers, just minutes north of the international border with New York state. About halfway up the length of the island, on its southeast edge, you have Downtown Montreal. Immediately southwest of that is Westmount, occupying about 4 sq.km. on the southern slope of Mount Royal, home to about 20,000 residents.
What’s happening in Westmount?
As the demographics of Canada shifted dramatically over the last several decades, Westmount has managed to retain its status as an exclusive, upscale community. While the neighbourhood is mostly residential, several large city parks and historic landmarks lend a sense of unapproachable elegance to this district of charming brownstones and majestic magnolia trees.
King George Park (also known as Murray Hill) covers about 14 acres of luscious lawns, welcoming trees and diverting sports facilities. Westmount Summit, one of the three summits of Mount Royal also comprises an inviting 57 acres of unspoiled forest, Summit Woods, an easy-to-reach paradise for hiking and birdwatching.
Some of the most noteworthy buildings are the neo-gothic Ascension of Our Lord Parish church and the Westmount Square shopping plaza designed by preeminent German architect Mies van der Rohe. Westmount’s Public Library is something of a landmark in itself, opened in 1899, with historic architecture and an expansive greenhouse. The Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal with its prepossessing dome, charming gardens and art museum is also worth visiting.
Schools in Westmount
As one of Montreal’s most distinguished neighbourhoods, it’s no surprise that Westmount has some of the city’s most respectable schools. And like the rest of Quebec, most schools in Montreal provide primary instruction in French. But Westmount is an English-speaking enclave and has a number of English and bilingual schools. See our article on English Language Education in Quebec to learn more.
Several preschools and primary schools feed Westmount High School, the neighbourhood’s only public secondary school. A number of private schools offer more costly alternatives for education in both French and English. We’ve written a complete article on the Private Schools of Westmount, which identifies several prestigious institutes for girls and boys.
Three different school boards divide Westmount’s schools into Anglophone and Francophone, and a third category for CEGEPs. Take a look at our article on CEGEP schools to learn more about these two-years schools that provide vocational training and bridge the gap between secondary schools and university.
You might also check this article on Choosing the best daycare in Quebec.
These are the public school boards of Westmount:
Where are the hospitals in Westmount?
Westmount has a number of health care facilities, clinics, pediatricians and nursing homes.
Where’s the action in Westmount?
A posh residential neighbourhood, Westmount hardly has a reputation for scintillating nightlife, but it does have a host of high-end shopping venues and no shortage of upscale restaurants.
Here are a few tips for dining out in Westmount.
Park’s Restaurant: Antonio Park’s first restaurant still bears his name and still serves the best sushi in the city. One meal here and you’ll want to visit all of his restaurants.
378 Victoria Ave., Montreal, QC, H3Z 2N4
Vago: Exquisite, Italian cuisine that embraces creativity without abandoning tradition.
1336 Greene Ave., Westmount, QC
Petros: If you’re in the mood for something Greek, this authentic establishment delivers more than cuisine, it will transport you to the Aegean Sea and satisfy all your appetites.
4785, rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal, QC, H3Z 1E9
Chez Nick: Something of a hole in the wall in the posh part of town, see for yourself how this unassuming diner has managed to keep its doors open since 1920.
1377 Greene Avenue, Westmount, QC, H3Z 2A5
Cafe Bazin: For a light snack or a serious pastry, Cafe Bazin is the place for clean, crisp quality.
380 Avenue Victoria, Westmount, QC H3Z 1C3
Related Reading: To learn more about what’s happening in Montreal, check out these other articles.
Photo Credit: Westmount City Hall (Wikipedia)