II-168198 | Montreal Diet Dispensary kitchen, Montreal, QC, 1907

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Montreal Diet Dispensary kitchen, Montreal, QC, 1907
Wm. Notman & Son
1908, 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) , building (531) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Dispensaries and clinics played a major role in the fight waged by hygienists and reformers at the start of the 20th century. The first milk dispensaries, known as "Gouttes de lait," or "milk stations," were founded in 1900. After various up and downs, they began operating on a permanent basis in 1910 and an extensive network was gradually set up. They provided mothers with supplies of sterilized milk, advice on child care and access to medical services. These institutions depended on volunteers and the financial support of Montreal's main women's associations: the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Montreal Local Council of Women. Women also organized educational activities, including a major exhibition in 1912, and called for stricter sanitary hygiene standards in order to protect children.

  • What

    The Montreal Diet Dispensary was a volunteer organization serving the city's poor. Its members prepared and distributed meals to the sick and to convalescents free of charge or at a very low price. Milk was a major component of the diet recommended for this clientele.

  • Where

    The area served by the Diet Dispensary changed as the city expanded. After 1901, outlets were opened in eastern and western working-class neighbourhoods, from Hochelaga to Verdun.

  • When

    The Montreal Diet Dispensary was founded in 1879 and occupied a variety of fairly modest premises until 1905, when the organization acquired a house with a nice big kitchen, shown here in a photograph taken by the Notman studio.

  • Who

    The Montreal Diet Dispensary was founded by members of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). For its first few decades, it operated under the aegis of the Montreal English-Protestant women's volunteer movement.