II-102142 | William Notman's house, 557 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, 1893

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William Notman's house, 557 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, 1893
Wm. Notman & Son
1893, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Photograph (77678) , residential (1255)
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Keys to History


New social groups were emerging in all the big Canadian cities. The expansion of trade and industry favoured first and foremost a large and flourishing business class, as men who had made fortunes in the expanding manufacturing sector joined the existing business elite. A few managed to climb to the very top of the social ladder, but there were many more industrialists, merchants and professionals whose income and social status simply assured them a comfortable standard of living and a certain respectability. These were the middle classes that played a crucial role in the transformation of consumption.

  • What

    This is a photograph taken by the William Notman & Son studio of the family home on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal. The purchase of this elegant house in 1876 was a sign that Notman had arrived: he had joined the social élite.

  • Where

    Sherbrooke was one of the most prestigious streets in Montreal. Members of the upper crust built large mansions there surrounded by magnificent gardens. The Notmans lived next door to John Molson, west of St. Lawrence Boulevard (now St. Laurent).

  • When

    Between 1840 and 1870, merchants, industrialists and professionals left the increasingly noisy, crowded downtown. They sought green spaces and fresh air far from the pollution of the industrial areas.

  • Who

    William Notman (1826-91), a native of Scotland, immigrated to Montreal in 1856 and opened his photography studio that same year. Notman rapidly became one of Victorian Canada's most important photographers and was granted the title "Photographer to the Queen."