Kamala Harris’s connection to Montréal

published on August 17, 2020
What's New in Montréal

Kamala Harris made headlines when it was announced that she would run as the vice-president candidate for the Democratic Party in the 2020 American election. Her name was immediately splashed across every major international newspaper outlet and she quickly became the number one trending article on Wikipedia. And all with good reason: Harris is the first African-American, the first Asian-American, and the third female vice presidential running mate on a major party ticket. In short, she is making history.

Montréal roots

Harris has a significant connection to Montréal: she lived here during her teenage years. From seventh grade to the end of high school, Harris and her family lived in Montréal, specifically its Westmount neighborhood. Harris graduated in 1981 from Westmount High School (incidentally the same school that songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen attended a few decades earlier).

The family’s move to Montréal—from her birth place in Oakland, California—was precipitated when her mother, a breast cancer specialist, accepted a research position at the Jewish General Hospital and a teaching job at McGill University.

Admittedly, the transition from temperate California to Montréal winter came with its challenges. From her memoir, Harris writes, “My mother tried to make it sound like an adventure, taking us to buy our first down jackets and mittens, as though we were going to be explorers of the great northern winter.”

After high school, Harris headed back south to attend university at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Montréal cheers

Living outside of the USA—even just across the border in Canada—isn’t necessarily a talking point for an American politician. So, we probably won’t hear Harris mentioning her Montréal connection, at least not in the immediate future.

And while it might be inaccurate to claim Harris as a “Montréaler,” the city is proud of Harris and her connection. Locals—such as the mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante—were quick to express their congratulations on this historic nomination.

Harris, we look forward to seeing you again soon in Montréal.

3 Montréal locations where Harris roamed


Westmount Park. Twenty acres of greenspace in the heart of Westmount makes this a prime location for gathering. On any given weekend in spring, summer or autumn, you’ll find people walking, playing tennis, or simply lounging on a blanket.

Westmount Public Library and Greenhouse. In the heart of the neighbourhood where Harris attended high school, this community library was built more than 100 years ago. The greenhouse is a lush, beautiful space for small, private gatherings.

McGill University. Ranked within the world’s top universities, McGill’s bucolic city centre setting blends examples of old-world architecture across multiple buildings. For an event, the Thomson House offers old school class and enviable views. Hosting something huge? The Molson Stadium seats 25,012 sporting or cultural events. Inevitably, Harris spent time on the grounds of McGill university, where her mother was a teacher.


Read this next: Montréal named the best student city in the Americas for the fourth year in a row!

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