II-112830 | Meat trolley for Mr. Scanlon, Montreal, QC, 1895

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Meat trolley for Mr. Scanlon, 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:  harbour (624) , Industry (942) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

After 1870 the expansion of the food trade relied on the railway linking the city to increasingly distant suppliers. Montreal consumers benefited from the city's strategic position on North American trade routes. As a hub of trans-Atlantic and transcontinental commerce, Montreal was served by a number of railways that carried wheat from the Canadian West, as well as butter and cheese from the farming regions of Ontario and Quebec. The enormous slaughterhouses of Chicago shipped thousands of kilos of meat to the city in refrigerated cars. Yet only part of this vast flow of meat and produce was destined for Montreal. The rest continued on to Great Britain or Europe. The city and its port facilities became a huge food transshipment and redistribution centre.

  • What

    A refrigerated railway car owned by Swift and Company is unloaded in the Port of Montreal. In the photograph, pieces of meat can be seen hanging from a "trolley," a hoisting device for transferring the meat to the refrigerated hold of a ship.

  • Where

    Despite the great distance between Montreal and the American Midwest, a Montreal railway company, the Grand Trunk, was the main carrier of meat from the Chicago packing plants. In addition to access to Montreal's harbourfront, the Grand Trunk had excellent connections to the major urban centers of the Northeastern seaboard of the United States.

  • When

    In 1895 the Port of Montreal was the second largest port in North America. Only New York handled a higher volume of freight.

  • Who

    American businessman Gustavus F. Swift (1839-1903) was one of the fathers of industrial meatpacking. His company established gigantic slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. He was also responsible for the invention of refrigerated railway cars.