Sainte-Catherine Street: 7 facts about Montreal's main commercial artery

Sep 21 2022, 8:40 pm

Whether you’re a tourist or a local, there is usually one street that comes to mind when you hear the term “Downtown Montreal,” and it’s none other than good old Saint-Catherine.

With so many of the city’s notable and historical landmarks paving the way, the unmistakable street has the power to tell the city’s story. And if you’re willing to listen, there’s plenty to learn.

In celebration of our city’s main commercial and cultural artery, here are a handful of facts you may not have known about one of the country’s most important pieces of pavement.

The origin of the street’s name is highly debated


meunierd / Shutterstock

There are a handful of theories regarding where the street got its name. One popular hypothesis is that the name was a tribute to Catherine de Bourbonnais — an illegitimate daughter of Louis XV who lived in Montreal.

It’s really, really long


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @photo.shahrzad

Sainte-Catherine Street spans 11 kilometres across the island from east to west.

It’s still a shopper’s paradise

It all began with the arrival of the large department stores, from Morgan’s to the Bay to Ogilvy’s, which all opened their doors in the late 19th century. Today, over 1,200 stores line the street.

The street was never really planned out


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Alice 🌼 (@alice___brlt)

The foundations of what we know as Saint-Catherine Street were laid sometime in the 18th century. We don’t know for sure since it was never officially part of a city plan. As a result, its growth occurred in sections.

Luckily, we eventually figured out how to make a proper map of the busy stretch of road.

Streetcars were an integral part of the street

Montreal Streetcars 1000

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, residents, shoppers, and business people hopped on the many streetcars that once flowed through Sainte-Catherine and its neighbouring downtown streets.

They were eventually replaced with buses by the mid-1950s.

The best way to explore the street is via public transportation


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by STM Mouvement collectif (@stminfo)

Stretching along multiple neighbourhoods, Sainte-Catherine can be accessed by not one, not two, but nine different metro stations.

The street was host to most of the Montreal Canadiens’ Stanley Cup parades

While many of us are too young to remember the Canadiens winning a cup, Montreal’s former mayor Jean Drapeau often referred to Sainte-Catherine as “the usual route” for Habs parades during the team’s dynasty years.

The Montreal Forum, the team’s former arena, was also firmly planted on the main street, making it the optimal celebratory spot.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

+ History
+ Curated