II-111790 | Tea in the garden, Mrs. McKay's group, Montreal, QC, 1895

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Tea in the garden, Mrs. McKay's group, Montreal, QC, 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  child (1308) , event (534) , informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The ways in which well-to-do Canadians spent their time were also changing, although differently for men than for women. Industrialization and the increase in the pace of business meant that men were devoting more time to their businesses. Women, on the other had, spent the majority of their time on domestic and family matters.

The emergence of new lifestyles, and the adjustments that came with them, led to more complex and regimented routines. No longer was leisure time defined solely in terms of the seasons and religious holidays, as in traditional agrarian societies. Now, leisure was also associated with specific periods in people's lives (childhood, the retirement years), with the day of the week (work days and time off) and with the time of year (work time and vacation time).

  • What

    This photograph depicts the Victorian ideal, still widely held at the end of the 19th century. The luxurious background evokes the femininity and intimacy of family life.

  • Where

    The ceremony surrounding the serving of tea is a clear sign of the bourgeois circumstances of these women.

  • When

    Tea time, which was usually around 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon, allowed a moment of relaxation during a busy day. Here tea is being taken in the garden.

  • Who

    It is safe to say that not all upper-class women experienced tea time as the somewhat idealized event represented in this photograph.