II-85064 | City Council of Montreal, QC, composite, 1885, copied 1887

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Composite photograph
City Council of Montreal, QC, composite, 1885, copied 1887
Wm. Notman & Son
1887, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Art (2774) , composite (312) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Interethnic tension reached a peak in 1885. A smallpox epidemic led to serious clashes, even riots, over the issue of compulsory vaccination. Some members of the upper classes, especially the English-speaking élite, were very much in favour, whereas part of the French-speaking population was resolutely against it. The same year, the hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel sparked strong reactions from French Canadians.

  • What

    This composite photograph shows the thirty or so councillors (three per ward) who, with the mayor, formed the Montreal Municipal Council in 1885.

  • Where

    The individuals have been placed in the setting of the city hall's municipal council chamber on Notre Dame Street.

  • When

    In 1885 the majority of council members were French-speaking. The council's greatest challenge that year was managing the crisis caused by the smallpox epidemic, which resulted in 3,234 deaths, in a city with a population of under 200,000.

  • Who

    The mayor of Montreal at the time was Honoré Beaugrand (1848-1906), a journalist and the owner of the daily La Patrie, which he had founded in 1879. A committed liberal, Beaugrand belonged to the radical movement that opposed the Ultramontanists, traditional Roman Catholics who believed in the supremacy of Church over State.