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The Montreal Port Center

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  • Project initiator: Montreal Port Administration (APM)
  • Partners: tenants, users and workers of the Port who contribute to the project by loaning objects and giving testimonies; professional museologists for the design-production of the exhibition space.
  • Duration of project: since 2017
  • Cost of project: $1.5 M for setting up the permanent exhibition

Context in which the project was created 

On the occasion of revitalizing the ocean cruiser terminal of Montréal, the Port dedicated a room to become the Interpretation Center of the Old Port of Montreal. This fulfilled its commitment to equip itself with such a center, taken in 2014 when it signed the “Port Centers” Charter of the International Association of Cities and Ports (AIVP). This charter is aimed at gathering the world’s ports around a network of reception centers to rekindle links between cities and ports and educate the general public about port activities and their associated trades.

The Port of Montreal is a genuine source of wealth for the city. In the past, its port and maritime activities contributed towards the economic and industrial development and the demographic growth of Montreal and Canada, and they are still synonymous with economic vitality. A hub for goods transport logistics and tourism, every year the Port of Montreal handles more than 1.5 million TEU (20 foot equivalent) and more than 110,000 passengers and crew members. Montreal’s port activities generate more than 19,000 direct and indirect jobs, and give rise to annual economic benefits of about $2.6 billion.


Strategy and objectives

The center’s first temporary exhibition (an investment of $225,000) was launched in 2017 for the 375th anniversary of Montreal: The History of Ships recounts the rich history of the Port of Montreal and recalls its founding role for the city.

The Center’s permanent exhibition will be installed before the end of 2019 and is aimed at providing better understanding of the world and trades of ports.


This facility fulfills three main goals:

  • Draw the city and port closer together; the APM has also opened other free public spaces for the people of Montreal, cruiser passengers and tourists along the Saint-Lawrence River, at the new ocean cruiser terminal grouped under the name Grand Quai du Port de Montréal.
  • Make the general public aware of the port’s activities and their associated trades.
  • Improve the sense of belonging to a port city and better appreciate its characteristics.

The project’s innovative characteristics


This center recalls the founding role of the port in the city’s growth and informs the public about the port’s contemporary activities.


This project is part of an approach aimed at bringing the port and the community closer together and improving the social acceptability of the port infrastructure. It is a showcase of the port authority’s good practices on the world stage.


Results and outlook

  1. In the short term, the port interpretation center has been a key element in opening up the site to the community. With very little advertising, the temporary exhibition – with free entrance – attracted nearly 40,000 visitors and satisfactory feedback.
  2. Other more long-term benefits are expected due to the series of actions developed by the APM to be a “responsible corporate citizen”. The port’s social acceptability is quite good and there’s no doubt that this exhibition contributed to this. With the permanent exhibition – for which entrance will also be free – aimed at groups of schoolchildren, the Port’s managers count on promoting understanding of the port’s activities and the trades associated with them, thereby stimulating employment!

How can this project be duplicated on other rivers?

Such spaces of mediation already exist in many port infrastructures around the world, and they always have the same positioning: that of being an interface between the port, the city and its citizens, and making known the port’s missions and projects, and career opportunities.

The Port maintains on-going dialogue with citizens and works to support the community. Open days, neighbourhood committees, local investment and public consultations on port projects are just some examples of how citizens are treated as active stakeholders, in the same way as business partners. A port centre represents a natural next step for the Port’s social responsibility to the community.

Sophie Roux – VP public affaires, Montreal Port Authority

To know more

Photo credit: MPA – IFGR

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