II-85064 | City Council of Montreal, QC, composite, 1885, copied 1887
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)
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.
This composite photograph shows the thirty or so councillors (three per ward) who, with the mayor, formed the Montreal Municipal Council in 1885.
The individuals have been placed in the setting of the city hall's municipal council chamber on Notre Dame Street.
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.
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.