The Reconquest of Montreal

Language Policy and Social Change in a Bilingual City

Marc V. Levine
Book Cover

PB: $43.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-899-8
Publication: Aug 91

HC: $54.50
EAN: 978-0-87722-703-8
Publication: Jun 90

Ebook: $43.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0380-3
Publication: Aug 91

320 pages
6 x 9
8 tables, 1 maps

An examination of the nature of the linguistic transformation of Montreal and the role of public policy in promoting it


Although Montreal has been a bilingual city since 1760 and demographically dominated by French-speakers for well over a century and a quarter, it was not until the late 1960s that full-fledged challenges to the city’s English character emerged. Since then. two decades of agitation over la question linguistique as well as the enactment of three language laws have altered the places of French and English in Montreal‘s schools, public administration, economy. and even commercial signs. In this book, Marc Levine examines the nature of this stunning transformation and, in particular, the role of public policy in promoting it.

The reconquest of Montreal by the French-speaking majority makes for interesting history. It includes episodes of intense conflict and occasional violence and tells the fascinating story of how an economically disadvantaged and culturally threatened linguistic community mobilized politically and used the state to redistribute group power in Canada’s second largest city. In addition, the history of Montreal’s language question offers analysts of urban politics and public policy an excellent case study of some of the central issues facing cities containing more than one major linguistic community.

After tracing the politicization of the language question in the 1960s and 1970s, Levine analyzes the impact of the three controversial language laws penacted by the Quebec provincial government between 1969 and 1977. Exhaustively researched, The Reconquest of Montreal is the definitive study of the most explosive issue in Quebec political life.


"Levine's superb analysis of postwar Montreal language politics is...a model case study with significant implications both for urban development and socio-linguistics."
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research

"As an outsider as well as an academic, Levine is able to analyze the language situation more objectively than most local commentators of either of the main language groups. (His) comprehensive analysis of public policy measures affecting the relative positions of French and English in Montreal goes far beyond the mere language laws that Quebec has adopted since the late 1960s.... Anyone interested in language in Quebec will find it a valuable historical summation of a peaceful revolution, and a helpful explanation of why, and how, we've come to Bill 178."
Montreal Gazette

"Political scientists and economists...can learn much from historian Marc Levine.... (He) has a keen appreciation of major issues in political economy and a proper skepticism about simple explanations.... Levine's book is far richer than what can be captured in a short review. It is thoroughly researched, gracefully written, and carefully thought out. It is recommended to students of political economy, ethnic and minority relations, Canadian politics, and urban affairs—indeed to all those who have an appreciation for intelligent and sophisticated analysis."
American Political Science Review

Table of Contents

A Note on Vocabulary
List of Abbreviations
Note to the Paperback Edition
Map of Montreal

1. Introduction

2. An English City: Montreal before the Quiet Revolution
Urban Growth and Linguistic Diversity, 1760-1960 • Linguistic Geography and the Two Solitudes • Language Use and Language Choice through 1960 • Language and the Economy: Historical Patterns • The Politics of Language through 1960 • Language Policy before 1960 • Urban Governance and Linguistic Accommodation • The Winds of Change: Language and Politics in the 1950s

3. The Quiet Revolution and the Politicization of Language
The Roots of the Quiet Revolution • Linguistic Tensions and the Quiet Revolution • Francophone Demands for a Government Language Policy, 1960-1966 • The Anglicization of Immigrants • The Political Ramifications of Immigrant Anglicization

4. Linguistic Crises and Policy Responses, 1967-1969
Policy Response I: Bill 85 • Conflicts Become Crises: Linguistic Battles of 1969 • Policy Response II: Bill 63 • Language and the Restructuring of School Governance • Conclusion

5. A Polarized City, 1970-1976
Montreal 1970: A City in Turmoil • The Federal Government and Montreal's Language Question • Holding Action, 1970-1973 • Bourassa Prepares to Act • Bill 22: A Policy Disaster • Conclusion

6. Bill 101 and the Politics of Language, 1977-1989
The PQ Enacts a Language Policy • Anglophones and Bill 101 • Conflicts and Compromises in Language Policy, 1979-1985 • Bourassa Reignites the Language Question, 1985-1989 • The Impact of Bill 101: Education • Conclusion

7. Public Policy, Language, and the Montreal Economy, 1960-1989
The Quebec State and Francophone Economic Development • State Corporations and Francophone Economic Development • The Linguistic Impact of Public Works • Closing the Linguistic Education Gap • Language Policy and Regulation of the Private Sector • Conclusion

8. The Francisation of the Montreal Economy
The Language of the Workplace • The Control of Capital • The Socioeconomic Status of Francophones • The External Face of Business • Public Policy, Market Forces, and Economic Change • Conclusion

9. English and French in the New Montreal
Linguistic Demography, 1971-1986 • The End of the Two Solitudes? • The New Ethnicity and Francophone Montreal • The New Francophone Class Structure • Whither the Language Question


About the Author(s)

Marc V. Levine is Associate Professor of History and Urban Affairs and Director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


In the Series

  • Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development edited by John R. Logan and Todd Swanstrom

    Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development, edited by John R. Logan and Todd Swanstrom, includes books on urban policy and issues of city and regional planning, accounts of the political economy of individual cities, and books that compare policies across cities and countries.