Montreal is actually more English than Ottawa.
Ottawa is very bilingual (favouring the French language) because it sits right on the border of Quebec and Ontario, separated by the Ottawa River, and because Canada is a bilingual nation and Ottawa is its capital. Because it is the seat of government, it has to represent both official languages. Trying to work in service, tourism, government, or many other jobs where you’d deal with the public, you need to speak both French and English. A lot of jobs will use it is a filter when hiring new staff. It doesn’t matter that Ottawa is a city in Ontario, and Ontario is primarily a unilingual province.
That being said, Montreal suffers the same fate as Ottawa. If you want a job, you definitely need to speak both official languages since Montreal gets a lot of tourists and unilingual English speakers. Even though Montreal is firmly situated in Quebec, and Quebec is a unilingual French province (what’s up with that, eh?), you can walk into any store in Montreal and start speaking English and expect staff to know what you mean. Unless they want to be dickheads, which in Quebec is a very natural thing.
There has always been a social rift between the French and English in Canada. It goes all the way back before Confederation when England and France were fighting over this bitch in the 17th and 18th century. As time has gone on, hurt feelings have never been resolved, Quebec has demanded special treatment as a province, threatened to separate, and not surprisingly, the rest of Canada has held negative perceptions about La Belle Province.
It’s two very different cultures all under the same roof in Canada. Similar in many ways, but there are nuances significant enough to label different. You may have to live in Canada to understand the levels of animosity towards Quebec and les francais, but just imagine if you had a culturally significant group demanding special considerations and threatening to leave the country all the time — you may begin to think they are dickheads. That’s not to say that the Quebecois do not harbour ill feelings of their own — they do — towards the rest of Canada. And even further still, not everyone feels the same way. Most people don’t care.
Anyways, if I had to label the MOST French city in Canada, it’d be Quebec City. All the history, pride, and nationalism that comes from that place marks it in my mind as the epicentre of Francophone culture in Canada. There are some Acadian places in eastern Quebec/western New Brunswick that may match it in history and pride, but if you’re looking for quintessential ‘Frenchness’, stop off in Quebec City. Very snobby. Will look at you funny and spit in your food if you speak English. You’ll have to apologize if you speak French with the wrong accent.