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From the 1600s to the early 1800s, rivers and lakes acted as highways for the lucrative fur trade, and Montreal became an ideal entrepôt site to facilitate that trade. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers made it an important staging centre for a fur trade to the west and north as far as the Hudson Bay. Lawrence (just west of the city) prohibited some larger vessels from continuing upriver, fur traders were nevertheless able to follow the river to the Great Lakes and, via Lake Michigan, on to the largest river system in North America—the Mississippi-Missouri rivers.Long after the fur trade had ended, technologies that improved water-based travel, such as dredging and canals, only enhanced Montreal’s status as a transportation centre.While the Place Ville-Marie remained an important landmark, taller buildings were constructed at the end of the 1990s.In 1992 the skyscraper commonly referred to by its address, the 1000 de la Gauchetière, became the tallest building in the city (without antenna) at 617 feet (188 metres).Montreal remains a city of great charm, vivacity, and gaiety, as well as one of unquestioned modernity.At the end of the last ice age, some 11,700 years ago, the lower St. Montreal is a city with considerable French colonial history dating back to the 16th century.
The prevailing winds and Great Lakes also influence precipitation, which is relatively even year-round amounting to approximately 41 inches (1,050 mm) annually.
Characteristic of the architecture of many of Montreal’s residential neighbourhoods is the prevalence of three-story town houses, which are typically divided into three or five apartments accessed by distinctive curving or spiral exterior staircases.
Montreal’s residents benefit from four large farmers’ markets.
Those physical conditions eventually translated into a settlement pattern with more farms and people in and around Montreal than around Quebec city.
Moreover, Montreal’s location farther south and in closer proximity to the modifying effects of the Great Lakes than Quebec city gave the region’s farmers a distinct advantage in increased frost-free days over those who lived downriver. Lawrence River, draining the Great Lakes, provided a natural waterway and transportation corridor to the heart of the North American continent.