M9188.8.131.527 | Ames Holden & Co.
Ames Holden & Co.
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
About 1880, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
7.3 x 8.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Montreal manufacturing, with its production activities concentrated in large mechanized factories, did not really get going until the 1840s. There were two distinct sectors: light industry and heavy industry. In contrast to heavy industry, light industry relied on an abundant supply of relatively unskilled, poorly paid workers, many of whom were French Canadians who had come to the city from rural areas. It included several different industries. Shoemaking, an old Montreal specialty, was the city's largest industry in 1870. Thanks to technology imported from the United States, shoe production became highly mechanized during this period.
This engraving shows the Ames, Holden & Co. factory around 1880. At the time of Confederation, this company already had the largest shoe factory in Montreal.
The factory was on Victoria Square, west of Old Montreal. Many of the first shoe factories were located in this part of the city. Towards the end of the 19th century, shoe manufacturers began moving east, to the Ste. Marie district, and then later to the suburb of Maisonneuve.
Originally founded under a different name in 1853, the company became Ames, Holden & Co. in 1871. It occupied a number of different locations during its history and moved its factory to Victoria Square in 1879 or 1880.
One of the founders of the company, Evan Fisher Ames, was an American immigrant who was a prime mover in transferring new technology from the United States to Canada. His son, Herbert Brown Ames (1863-1954), became the leader of the reform movement that emerged in municipal politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.