Montreal's most linguistically diverse area speaks 48 languages at home

In a small area of Côte-des-Neiges with only 6,600 people, 48 languages are spoken in the home including English and French, making it a hotbed of cultural crossovers and the most linguistically diverse area of Montreal, according to the 2016 census.

Residents say they like being able to speak their native languages with others in the community

The South Asian women’s community centre was having a picnic Friday in the linguistically diverse area of Côte-des-Neiges highlighted by the 2016 census. (Sean Henry/CBC)

In a small area of Côte-des-Neiges, with only 6,600 people, 48 languages are spoken in the home — making it a hotbed of cultural crossovers and the most linguistically diverse area of Montreal, according to the 2016 census.

The area is less than half a square kilometre in size and lies between Darlington Avenue, Jean-Talon Boulevard, Van Horne Avenue and Côte-des-Neiges Road.

There are 48 languages spoken in the census tract, including French and English.

On its streets, in its parks and businesses, languages like Hiligaynon (from the Philippines), Tamil, Bamanankan and Fulah (from West Africa) can be heard.

We spoke to people who live in the area and asked them what they found special about it.

Ambika Sivamoorthy said she speaks almost four languages. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Ambika Sivamoorthy says she speaks three-and-a-half languages: Tamil, English, Sinhala and some French.

She is a community worker at a South Asian women's community centre in the area.

Language is central to what she does — she helps immigrants with language issues, such as helping them fill out forms.

"It's so dynamic, I've already seen 10 to 15 communities living in this area that I'm able to recognize," Sibamoorthy said.

She comes from Sri Lanka and said she was drawn to the area because so many Sri Lankans live there.

Tougale Lhoussale lives in the area because a friend there helped him find an apartment. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Tougale Lhoussale, from Morocco, speaks four languages.

He only arrived in the area a few weeks ago and has already noticed its diversity.

Lhoussale said he was drawn to the area simply because a friend of his lived there and helped him find an apartment.

Joy Migallon was walking through the neighbourhood with her boyfriend, Pierre Olivier, Friday. She's here because of friends. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Joy Migallon speaks three languages and has a lot of friends in the area with whom she enjoys being about to speak her native Tagalog.

David Clarke has seen the area transform over the years. (Sean Henry/CBC)

David Clarke said the area has become this multicultural over the past few decades.

He said it wasn't that way in the 1960s and 70s.

"It was predominantly Jewish and Black that lived there at that time, now it's like the United Nations here. It's nice to see," Clarke said. 

with files from CBC's Sean Henry