History of Laval

City of Laval constitutes one of the 17 administrative regions of Quebec.

The city occupies the island of Jesus, north of Montreal, just across the Des Prairies River. The territory of Laval was originally inhabited by Mohawks. The first European Settlers were French Jesuits who came there in 1636 after they had been granted a seigneury of the island. They founded a mission. Around 1670 the first settlers established here, and when Europeans arrived, they named the island "Montmagny Island", in honour of New France’s 2nd governor.

In 1636, however, the island changed its name to become "Jesus Island", since is was owned by the Jesuits.

In 1675, François de Montmorency-Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, gained control of the seigneury. The territory remained rural for many years.

In 1850, the only built-up area on the island was Sainte-Rose Village. It remained as the main community for the remainder of the century. With the dawn of the 20th century came urbanization. Laval-des-Rapides was incorporated in 1912, followed by L'Abord-à-Plouffe and Laval-sur-le-Lac three years later, as well as several other communities. Laval began to grow throughout the following years, due to its proximity to Montreal that made it an ideal suburb.

A few amalgamations followed, thus L'Abord-à-Plouffe amalgamated with Renaud and Saint-Martin creating the city of Chomedey in 1961.

In 1975, the Quebec government decided to amalgamate the whole island into a single city of Laval.

Thus the dozen cities including Sainte-Dorothée, Chomedey, Laval-des-Rapides are in the middle of the Laval Island", Sainte-Rose, Laval-des-Rapides, Auteuil, Saint-François and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. were were merged into only one: Laval. The former cities thus became districts. At the time, Laval had a population of 170,000.

However, the island of Jesus or Laval is still rural in nature, with most of the urban area in the central region and along the south and west river banks.

Today, about 20% of the population of Laval were born outside of Canada, many immigrants hailing from the French Caribbean, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. The city is highly Christian, particularly Roman Catholic, while Protestant and Orthodox groups constitute the remainder of the population. Religions such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and others number less than 5% combined.

house laval

View of Laval's residential houses. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com

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