II-116749 | Unloading S.S "Durham City", Montreal, QC, 1896

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Unloading S.S "Durham City", Montreal, QC, 1896
Wm. Notman & Son
1896, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  boat (1192) , Photograph (77678) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

Montreal's chief advantage was its strategic position as a transportation system hub. Its port was the busiest in Canada: every summer it turned into a forest of ships' masts. The Harbour Board upgraded the port facilities and, spurred on by its energetic chairman, John Young (1811-78), in 1850 it began digging a shipping channel in the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and Montreal. Once the work was completed, larger ocean-going vessels could travel upriver as far as Montreal. The Allan brothers, Hugh and Andrew, founded one of the largest transatlantic shipping lines in the history of Canada and were very involved in many other Montreal enterprises.

  • What

    Cargo from the steamship Durham City is unloaded onto the wharf at the port of Montreal, where it awaits shipment to its final destination.

  • Where

    The wharves of the port were served directly by the railway, as can be seen from the cars on the left in the picture. There was obviously very little room to manoeuvre, however, and expansion work was urgently needed.

  • When

    In 1896 the Harbour Board began major renovations at the port, including the building of new raised wharves and the construction of freight warehouses and grain elevators.

  • Who

    The longshoremen who loaded and unloaded the ships made up most of the port work force. Their work was physically demanding. At the height of the season, they had to put in very long hours, but in winter, when shipping was halted because of the ice, they were unemployed for five months.