The Polytechnique Montréal was founded in 1873 in order to teach technical drawing and other useful arts. At first, it was set in a converted residence. It later moved to a larger building on Saint-Denis street. In 1958, it moved to its current location on the Université de Montréal campus. The original building was enlarged in 1975 and then in 1989. In 2002, the Computer and Electrical Engineering Department (they were later separated) began to occupy the 5th and 6th floor of the old École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal building. In 2003, the construction of three new buildings started.
Until the 1960s, the main purpose of the school was to train engineers. However, from 1959 on, the focus went to research. Nowadays, it is a leading research institution in applied sciences in Canada.
In 1977, a SLOWPOKE reactor, named SLOWPOKE-2, was installed at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. The non-power reactor operating licence was renewed and will be valid from July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2023. The reactor has been in operation for 36 years and is used for research, teaching, neutron generation and isotope production.
Plaque commemorating the murder of 14 female students (6 December 1989)
On December 6, 1989, 25-year-old Canadian Marc Lépine entered the campus of École Polytechnique and fatally shot 14 women, wounding 10 other women and four men before killing himself on campus. The massacre is the deadliest shooting incident in Canadian history. This event is commemorated by the Canadian government as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.