II-146723 | Rear of Joseph Bastien Grocery, Barré St. corner Gareau Lane, Montreal, QC, 1903

Rear of Joseph Bastien Grocery, Barré St. corner Gareau Lane, Montreal, QC, 1903
Wm. Notman & Son
1903, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , domestic (461) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

These employee quarters were typical of the first row houses built in Montreal around 1860. People working on the Victoria Bridge and in the Grand Trunk plants were the first residents of this type of dwellings.

At the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, industrialization brought people from the country and abroad to the city. The number of people looking for accommodations increased. The housing shortage hit hard and the price of land jumped. The first row houses, often made up of one or two superimposed dwellings, were an economical solution to this emergency situation. Real estate developers and contractors built these houses in many parts of the city.

However, proximity had its risks. Row houses were thus made of brick, which was more resistant than wood against fire and had become popular starting in 1850. Firewalls became mandatory in 1727, at least in downtown Montreal.

The first row houses had gable roofs, which were replaced by flat roofs after 1885. Just like the houses shown, they had back porches and outside stairs that initially led to outhouses and a fuel storage area in the courtyard, as well as a place for ashes.

  • What

    The dwellings in row houses usually had limited space, and the bedrooms often faced the street. In these dwellings, natural light was not always sufficient and ventilation was sometimes inadequate.

  • Where

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, housing conditions for Montreal workers were as varied as their income. Some workers lived in deplorable conditions, as slums were becoming more common in the city. Others lived in new housing heated with gas instead of coal and equipped with electricity and running water.

  • When

    Between 1891 and 1921, industrialization led to an important growth in Montreal's population, which jumped from 220,000 to 620,000 inhabitants, thus creating a need for new houses.

  • Who

    Mr. Meredith did not live on site. Instead, he was probably a real-estate developer.