Cities Journal

Top 21 Reasons Montreal Is Better Than Toronto

Photo credit: gpoo / Flickr

Montreal and Toronto have an extraordinary rivalry going back generations. The two cities are completely culturally different, one being more European and the other being more American in style. The ways of life in both places are also very different, as is the architecture, and even the language.

Still, the two cities continue to compete for the title of The Best City in Canada. Which city is really the best, though? It’s not hard to give that prize to Montreal.

Here are the top 21 reasons Montreal is better than Toronto:

1. Montreal Is A Culinary Delight

Montreal is known for having some delicious food. That is because most of the city is European in style, and much of the foods are imported from Europe, particularly France. It is generally accepted throughout Canada that Montreal has the best bagels, the best smoked meats, and the best gourmet-style sandwiches in the country.

As far as restaurants and ethnic cuisines are concerned, both Montreal and Toronto boast a wide variety of ethnic communities and authentic cuisines. For instance, you can find Italian, Greek, Lebanese and Jewish restaurants throughout Montreal whereas Toronto takes pride in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Italian, and Greek food.

Though you may find more ethnic neighborhoods that serve their own foods in Toronto, Montreal has fully incorporated the various tastes in its unique culinary landscape. For instance, those famous Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and bagels would not be as renowned as they are if not for the Jewish community.

Moreover, you will rarely find a city in the world with more restaurants than Montreal. Unlike Toronto where you have to go to a certain neighborhood to try their foods, Montreal is packed with restaurants that offer everything your heart desires.

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  • Then why is it Toronto continues to grow while Montreal does not? I do not think the author is actually fully familiar with both cities.

    • José Raymond Herrera

      Because Toronto is full of immigrants from third world who are desperetly looking for jobs but unfortunately don’t know about quality of life.

      • ALL of Canada is filled with immigrants,too many, too fast!

  • Mark

    Montreal peaked 40 years ago and it’s been downhill since. It’s economy is terrible. It has a crumbling infrastructure and horrific politics.
    Montreal is fun to hang-out for a weekend, but would anyone want to make a living there? A lot of it’s residents are desperate to leave.
    Toronto is booming and has a great future.

  • Cordelia Zimmerman

    Whoever wrote this piece of mental onanism doesn’t live here in Montreal

  • Jamie

    Its called the Stanley Cup…Not World Cup!!! Obviously uninformed about the overall subject!

  • José Raymond Herrera

    Montreal is definitely more european and that’s why I chose Montreal to live.

  • V

    Drinking “after 11:00”
    I meant to say …

  • V

    and kit flying is NOT illegal in Toronto—except at one park in the city where local residents kicked up a fuss about the string, caught in tree branches, being a hazard for birds.

  • Alex Laney

    Kite flying is only banned in one park in Toronto. This is typical of the misinformation in this piece, which is clearly biased. For example, the sports section. Why not mention things like Toronto has more pro sports that Montreal like baseball and basketball, and a retractable roof stadium that works? Or a better soccer stadium? On festivals, Toronto has the CNE which tops any festival Montreal has? And on and on. I have nothing against Montreal having been there numerous times and like the place. The two cities are different and both quite worth visiting and living in.

  • neil

    While I agree with most of this, the fact is that the cost of living is also the reason why employers think they don’t have to pay their employees and why so many Montrealers have above table jobs and below the table jobs. Also, Montreal is in the snow-belt and while that can be fun it can also be a pain in the butt. Also, you better be bi-lingual or your experience there is going to be a sad one.

  • Max Payne

    You forgot to mention how little jobs pay in Montreal. I’d rather be paid a lot more in Toronto and travel abroad (oh like to real France) than be paid the peanuts in Montreal and be stuck biking everywhere (the lack of an good income really does stifle your ability to make payments on your BMW).

    Driving in Montreal is also a headache, it’s as if they couldn’t afford to hire a competent traffic administrator so they settled with what a monkey drew on a piece of paper and went with that.

    Having lived in both cities; if you want a social life Montreal is the place to be. If you want money than go to Toronto.

    • C Jasz

      Money- what money?

      • Max Payne

        You’re doing Toronto wrong if you don’t have money….

        • C Jasz

          I do not have money – unfortunately.
          My pension is peanuts.

  • VOR

    I have never in my life been to city as dirty, and unwelcoming to tourist, as Montreal in Canada. The city is an absolute national disgrace. It is NOTHING like how it was before Quebecs economy tanked and people fled Montreal for Toronto. Ever since then, Montreal has not been the same. The city is literally disgusting. Trash and graffiti everywhere. The homeless problem is absolutely shameful. If you’re not planning on going clubbing then a 4 day trip will be more than enough to see all that there is to see in Montreal. The people are rude to tourist BIG TIME. If you don’t speak French people will try to scam you wherever you go (especially at clubs and hotels). The cab drivers are for the most part crooks and will do whatever it takes to up the fare (this includes driving in circles, making wrong turns, driving slowly, or even slowing down as approaching lights, in the hopes that it turns red). The police are very aggressive and are very much like American police, violent and very deadly. Do not mess around with police in Montreal, they are more like gangsters. When I arrived to Montreal I had a flag of Canada on my car. Within 5 minutes of stopping near a curb, a cab driver came up to me and told me to remove the flag. I asked him why, and he said that people don’t like that flag here and its in our best interest to remove it. He said it would not be out of the ordinary if we returned to see out car vandalised and the flag destroyed. Again, we’re talking about Canadas national flag. Montreal is also VERY poor when compared to Toronto. Its like comparing Detroit to Tokyo. The infrastructures a joke, the police cars and fire trucks are old and outdated, and overall the city has a very cheap and poor feeling to it

    Montreal by far is the most disgraceful city in Canada; I highly recommend avoiding this place at ALL COSTS. Quebec city is a far better visit for sight seeing, and Toronto is a FAR BETTER visit for clubbing and partying. Save your money and learn from my mistake. You’ve been warned…

    • Chemz Swal

      You are right on most issues but being negative serves no purpose not everything is negative in Montreal many areas are being refurbished and the crime rate – still too high – is comparable to Toronto.. you felt unwelcome as an anglo … do you think French people (even of algerian descent like myself) are welcome in Toronto?? wanna bet?

      • VOR

        Ofcourse they are. It’s fucking Toronto, everyones welcome. You don’t know shit about Toronto, do you? Literally the most multicultural city in the world. Montreal, bunch of broke, anglo hating losers

        • Chemz Swal

          Actually Toronto has many positives in my own opinion the strongest point is Toronto calls itself the “people’s city” and truly UNLIKE an American city the city may be big but it is still humane and civilized you dont feel like in a jungle like some american cities. By most multicultural what do you mean? A lot of ethnics???? I am ethnic so dont bs me… like a poster said “rents are way out of line.Toronto – does not have a decent bakery …Flatness and boredom everywhere” read my comments I never said Montreal was a success story.. as for Toronto people there should stop worshipping the USA … and ONLY watch US tv and ONLY care about the USA and ONLY be interested about he US presidential race…

          • VOR

            Toronto is a rich and influential city. The US is a rich and influential country. Honestly, Toronto represents American power in a Canadian society, the perfect city in my opinion

          • Chemz Swal

            Like you so brilliantly say in English ” I rest my case”

          • VOR

            The truth still stands. Toronto is young, rich and vibrant, Montreal is old, poor and dirty. Enjoy.

          • Chemz Swal

            Read the beginning of my comment I have already stated that .. however a city is not like medication 2% of this 4 % of that it is a feeling. I would never live in Toronto but yes it is a nice city.

          • VOR

            Wtf you talking about? Torontos cock >>> Montreal

      • Didou

        No, Chemz, I am of Algerian descent as well and I live in Toronto. Doors are open for all people of different origins. Even at work, they won’t look at your origin if you apply for a job or if you want to get promoted but only your competence will help you do so. I have many friends in Montreal who come to Toronto to try their job prospects and they get many calls for interviews. A thing that they are missing in Montreal except for small jobs. You just have to be a good bilingual, because French is also important for companies located in Toronto.

      • James Glenn

        Criticism shouldn’t be stifled or be seen as “being negative”. Pretending it’s all peaches and cream or simply glossing over the negative points only encourages the perpetuity of the status quo and nothing gets fixed. More people need to voice their grievances and point out ALL the negativity of this city turned garbage heap. Maybe someone in city hall will take notice and do something about it.

  • Archie1954

    For Heaven’s sake, me thinks thou doth protest too much! Neither city is Canada’s best as a matter of fact. Just go to the UN surveys and other surveys and reviews. Vancouver, not only is Canada’s best city, for 10 years running it has been the World’s best city! Read it and weep pompous Easterners.

    • Don_Lo

      Totally agree. While I was reading the article, I kept thinking, ”Montreal and Toronto have nothing on Vancouver!” They sound so lame in comparison.

  • Don_Lo

    The only things Montreal is good for is partying, shopping, the food, cheap school tuitions, hockey, and getting laid. The city was great between the 1960s-1980s, but not anymore. The roads and bridges are falling apart. People are rude and racist. I`ve never encountered so many low class, ass-backwards people in my life. The cops are major a-holes. The politicians and construction industry are corrupt. The taxes are high. The job market is a joke. You see people who worked as doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. back in their home country now working as telemarketers, in factories, or driving cabs because the province refuses to recognize their credentials. And meanwhile, there`s a shortage of doctors and nurses in hospitals. Downtown is starting to look like Detroit with all the graffiti and boarded up buildings. The ridiculous language laws make it difficult for businesses to set up shop in the province. Quebec has fallen so far behind other provinces economically that it will never go back to its former glory. This is a great city for young students but after graduation, they`re better off finding work elsewhere if they want to live a comfortable life.

  • C Jasz

    Lived in Montreal for 7 yrs, been living in Hogtown since 1977.
    Here, rents are way out of line.Toronto – does not have a decent bakery that makes good rye bread.
    Flatness and boredom everywhere,nothing compares to the St Lawrence River and Mont-Royal.

    • James Glenn

      Ah, the St Lawrence river, Montreal’s direct pipeline to our complex toilet system. Yes, it’s absolutely awesome to dine that close to mega tons of flushed excrement.

  • Chemz Swal

    This article echoes the one that says Toronto is better once again it portrays an over-flattering portrait of Montreal to me the place where you live should be the one where you feel comfortable. Toronto is doing much better than Montreal, it is modern, has much better restaurants and less homeless people but I would never live there… amidst unilingual anglos who worship the USA and where there is NO unique culture binding people together but on the contrary a variety of cultures that live in cultural ghettos .. no that is not for me. Add to this outrageous prices for condos and appartements…

  • SilverCristo

    Montrealer here and I have to disagree. These are not substantial reasons to make this case. In my view, Toronto surpasses Montreal in several areas. *Please note I originally posted a comment but decided to remove it due to its length.

  • Paulina

    I use to live in Montreal 5 years, and Moved to Toronto after that. Absolutely disagree, after awhile in Toronto I realized HOW MANY amazing high class restaurants are in the city food is even better that in some Montreal’s good restaurants, water front is so long, so it makes city much nicer far walks and hot summer days. Niagara, Tobermorey, Burlington,Oakville..sooo many places to visit, and in Montreal we have only Old port ( very small tho) and Mont Royal… I won’t speak about ppl cuz its a fact ppl in Toronto more open and FRIENDLY!!

  • Philippe Deschenes

    I’ve been to both cities. Great stuff on both parts. For anything regaring economy, Toronto is doing slightly better for sure. Montreal is better on pretty much all other aspects though. Way more cool and fun, best food, friendly and diverse – and historical. You could say that Toronto is currently the head of Canada, while Montreal is the heart.

    • James Glenn

      “For anything regaring economy, Toronto is doing slightly better for sure”
      THAT is a complete understatement. I get you’re trying to be nice here but let’s drop the politeness and call a spade a spade. Toronto is doing MUCH better than Montreal. Better infrastructure, better urban planning, more shopping options, greater choices, more direct flights to the world, etc. Not to mention all the major corporate HQs left Montreal decades ago and went to Toronto because of Quebec’s stupid language protectionism.

  • Xx_thislistsuxa$$_xX

    this list is gayer than your mom ho

  • James Glenn

    Top 21 Reasons Montreal Sucks
    1- Potholes.
    Instead of fixing them, they pass laws that prohibit lawsuits against the city for damage caused by negligence.

    2- Corruption.
    They find money to build statues of cigarette butts and dog turds but do little to nothing for small businesses affected by needless and obtrusive construction. One recent, egregious example: Bishop vendors are barely able to pay their rent. Oh, and let’s not forget the eyesore known as The Olympic stadium that cost about $1.47 billion CAD after throwing a tarp over it for a roof. Money well spent.

    3- Stupid laws.
    The mayor is afraid of pitbulls so he passed a law banning them from the city. They’ve also passed a bylaw making it illegal for hookah spots to allow hookah on their outdoor terraces. Seriously. The genius in charge thinks smoking indoors is beneficial somehow.

    4- Endless construction.
    See #2.

    5- Endless traffic.
    See #4.

    6- Poorly thought out urban planning.
    Red lights that don’t sync up but cause traffic piles. 3 lane highways that suddenly shrink to one for no good reason. The Decarie circle. the Decarie expressway.

    7- Fees on fines.
    Really? Wtf is the fine for if it doesn’t cover the cost of administering it? And what the hell needs to be administered? If you want to fine someone $120 for parking then make the damned fine $120 instead of $60 + $30 administration fee + $30 whatever fee.

    8- Provincial stupidity and interference.
    L’office de la langue francaise. ‘Nuff said.

    9- I’m tired of this list.
    I just realized the list goes well beyond 21 items. I have better things to do with my day.

    One more thing. The article’s item #21 entitle “No Weird Bylaws” was clearly written by someone either deliberately trying to mislead the reader or has not left his mother’s basement since reaching puberty.

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