At the Confluence of Geography, Society and History: Montreal and the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban Landscape

  • Dinu Bumbaru C.M.Email author
Part of the Creativity, Heritage and the City book series (CHC, volume 2)


Founded in 1642 by French Catholics on First Nations (indigenous) land, the utopian settlement of Ville-Marie has become the modern metropolis of Montreal. It was shaped by the geography of its site, the diverse nature and cultures of its people and its history as a place of confluence and trade with the river (Saint-Laurent) and the mountain (Mont Royal) as its main landmarks. Although Canada is a State Party to the World Heritage Convention, the Quebec Legislature acknowledged ICOMOS charters in its cultural development policy (1993) and the City of Montreal has adopted in 1992 an Urban Master Plan focusing on the urban form and architecture, the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape is seldom mentioned.

Yet, decades of civic and professional reflections and debates on the city’s physical and social heritage are consistent with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation’s concepts and processes. The long-standing attention to the iconic presence of Mont Royal or some symbolic institutions and landmarks translated into urban planning policies and tools addressing views and public spaces. Recognition of Montreal’s traditional urban habitat architecture and neighbourhood structure is reflected in the formal planning tools as well as in community structures like “tables de concertation”. And the citizen nature of the heritage debate in Montreal since the 1970s brought an integrated Heritage Urbanism Consultation approach echoing the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation.

In 2018, the future of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation in Canada and Quebec rests mostly with local and metropolitan levels at a time of major infrastructure and economic challenges and the re-humanisation of the industrial city. The history of urban heritage debates and growing devolution on metropolitan areas like Montreal offers an opportunity for the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation to accompany authorities and civil society in keeping and shaping the city.


Citizen participation Heritage views Civic commons Cultural diversity Urban identity Metropolitan landscape Public participation Mont Royal F. L. Olmsted Monument of nature 

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fondation Héritage MontréalMontrealCanada

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