THE CITY-ISLAND OF LAVAL
Laval city is an island located at the southwest portion of the province of Québec, just next to the Island of Montreal. The city is detached from the Canadian mainland to its north by the Rivière des Mille Îles. To its south, the Rivière des Prairies separates it from the Island of Montreal. The city of Laval occupies Îles Laval and Île Jésus.
Laval is designated as the suburban region for the Greater Montreal metropolitan Area. It occupies a total area of 247 square kilometers or about 95 square miles. Around 401.5 thousand people live in the city, most of whom are white Canadians and French. Around one-fifth of the population was born outside Canada and is considered as one of the major destinations for immigrants coming to the country. Many of the city's immigrants came from French-speaking countries in the Caribbean, as well as from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa. More than 90 percent of the city's population is Christian, most of whom are Roman Catholic. French is the main language spoken in most homes in Laval. Far lower on the list of the common languages spoken by the residents are English, Italian, Greek and Arabic.
Laval's economy focuses on technology, industrial, pharmaceutical, and retail sectors. In politics, the city has become a battleground between parties who call for a separate Québec and those who are working towards a united federation. Many of the city's residents are very vocal with their opinions for and against separation of the province from the entire country.
HOW IT BEGAN
Laval was already a growing town during the middle of the 17th century, but the economy then was more focused on agriculture. The 19th century saw the development of the different municipalities and villages in the island. There was urbanization and the growth of areas making up the island, mainly with the development of Laval as a suburb to cope with the growing population in nearby Montreal. The different municipalities and communities in the island were amalgamated in 1965 to form one city called Laval.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Château Taillefer Lafon. It is a vineyard located at the city's center. It is actually the first establishment in Québec which is called a chateau, which is a label usually given to vineyards that are distinctively European. It continues the tradition of the Taillefer family, who are farmers in Laval since the early 1800s. Check out www.chateautailleferlafon.ca for schedules of their cider and wine tastings.
╣Laval Heritage Trail. This is a route that will take you to the various old neighborhoods making up the city, particularly Sainte Rose and Sainte Vincent de Paul. It is a must-see for tourists and Canadians who are interested in 18th and 19th century culture and architecture, as well as the history of the country.
╣La Récréathèque. It is an amusement park filled with rides and games for people of all ages.
╣SkyVenture Montreal, located at Laval's Centropolis shopping center. It is an indoor facility which has powerful fans to simulate sky diving. It is the only facility of its kind in Canada. This is a popular destination for tourists and residents who would like to get the sense of flight and defying gravity, without jumping out of a plane.
╣Cosmodome. It houses Space Science Center museum and Space Camp Canada, both of which opened in 1994. The Space Science Center is the country's only museum meant for all things related to space science. Meanwhile, Space Camp Canada, one of only five such facilities in the world, helps people to understand the challenges of working in space.
╣Mille-Îles River Park. This is a park situated near a calm river where you can rent boats and canoes. The park features many islands for people to explore and various kinds of wildlife. One of the park's main attractions is an area called “Bayou” where people can navigate through swamps. No, there are no alligators there!
╣Nature Center or Le Center de la nature. Situated at the eastern part of Laval, the park features various landscapes of hills, hiking trails, rivers and ponds. It even has a small farm where children can have a good time playing with the animals. It is also a popular spot for outdoor weddings and receptions, especially during the summer when many of the park's flowering plants are in bloom.
╣Putting Edge Centropolis. It is an indoor facility meant for golf aficionados. It is an indoor mini-golf range, a welcome facility particularly during times when outside temperatures and precipitation are not ideal. It also has facilities to help you organize a golf-themed party for children.
╣Centropolis mall. This is the premier destination for tourists and residents in Laval. It is a giant complex of buildings with a variety of shops, from regular ones that sell shoes and clothing to those selling specialty items. You will also find a wide variety of restaurants and entertainment establishments. What's more, Centropolis is usually the venue for internationally known recreational facilities like SkyVenture.
╣Mondial Choral Loto-Québec. This is an annual event held in the summer and is considered the biggest gathering of chorale singers in the entire North America. Groups perform in various churches and chapels in Laval and usually more than one event is happening at the same time. There are also outdoor events that people can watch free of charge.
╣Rivière des Prairies power-generation plant or Centrale de la Rivière des Prairies. It is a hydroelectric power generation plant built in 1929. The plant generates electricity with the help of the Rivière des Prairies, which runs between the island of Montreal and Île Jesus.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
It is customary to give a 15 percent tip in restaurants. Additional service charge may be given if you are part of large parties. In which case, you don't have to give a tip unless the service was extraordinary. You can either put the tip on the table when you leave, or you can give it directly to the staff.