M316 | Bonsecours Market Scene in Winter

Bonsecours Market Scene in Winter
James Duncan (1806-1881)
1850-1860, 19th century
Oil on wood
20.2 x 25.3 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Genre (188) , Painting (2229) , painting (2227)
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Keys to History

In the 19th century, the activities of Montreal's public market extended far beyond the confines of the Bonsecours Market and occupied the whole area of what is now called "Old Montreal."

Opened in January 1847, the Bonsecours Market was a multipurpose building that housed market stalls, an icehouse, the offices of city hall, a police station and a concert hall.

This market was very important to the everyday lives of Montrealers. It drew crowds, not only because citizens had to eat, but also because food preservation techniques were not yet very developed. As shown by this painting by James Duncan, the Bonsecours Market was not simply a place to purchase foodstuffs; it was also an important gathering place where people from of all walks of life socialized.

  • What

    Although James D. Duncan produced mostly watercolours, in this case he painted an oil on wood.

  • Where

    Born in Ireland, James Duncan (1806-1881) immigrated to Canada in 1830 and settled in Montreal.

  • When

    A keen observer of urban life, Duncan sketched from life many sporting events, parades, fires, street vendors and winter scenes.

  • Who

    In Montreal, James Duncan worked as both an artist and drawing teacher.