The history of Dorval, Quebec, dates back more than 350 years to 1667, when Sulpician priests established a mission on the outskirts of what was then called Ville-Marie. The mission, originally called “Gentilly,” was later renamed “La Présentation de la Vierge Marie” and finally “Dorval,” which was incorporated as a village in 1892, as a city in 1903, as a borough of Montreal in 1956, and as a city, again, in 2006.

As with many other settlements on the island of Montreal, the railroad, which arrived in Dorval in 1855, was a major factor in attracting many wealthy, mainly English-speaking, families seeking a summer retreat close to their downtown homes and workplaces. After the Second World War, many middle-class families migrated to Dorval from the City of Montreal and other parts of Canada. From 12,853 residents in 1955, Dorval has grown to its current population of approximately 20,000.

Much of the city’s growth during these years was due to the construction of the Pierre Trudeau International Airport, which opened in 1941 and by the mid-1950s was handling more than a million passengers a year. “Before that, Dorval was mostly farmland,” says Mayor Edgar Rouleau. “Most of the houses were built in those years, as were the industrial and commercial structures.” Comprising about one-third of Dorval’s territory, and one-third of its tax base, the airport is the busiest in the province of Quebec, and the third busiest in Canada, with 16.6 million passengers passing through its doors in 2016. Some 35,000 people work at the Airport and its many related businesses every day. “This creates wealth for the city of Dorval,” says Rouleau.


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