I-40389.1 | Mrs. Lyde, Montreal, QC, 1869

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Mrs. Lyde, Montreal, QC, 1869
William Notman (1826-1891)
1869, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
13.7 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The growth of leisure that began in the 1840s stemmed from a new concept of man and his sources of fulfilment. The value of social order gave way to the principle of experience: fulfilment was to be found through personal actions and decisions, rather than in simple obedience. Freedom and duty replaced the notion of subordination and submission. But in order to thrive and fully exercise their freedom, people had to be educated. Leisure pursuits with noble aims, such as reading, were considered a good way to form moderate, rational beings.

Margaret Conrad and Alvin Finkel, History of the Canadian Peoples: Beginnings to 1867 (Toronto: Pearson Education Canada Inc., 2002), pp. 347-365.

  • What

    Reading found increasing favour in the 19th century, giving rise to the first public libraries in American and Canadian cities.

  • Where

    Reading was a solitary activity, meant to develop rational, moderate minds. It was done in a calm setting.

  • When

    The notion of universally accessible public education emerged during the 1830s and 1840s, as industrial society was developing.

  • Who

    Despite the promotion of education for all, it was the upper classes that benefited most from the expanded access to books