M9126.96.36.1995 | J. B. Rolland
J. B. Rolland
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
10.6 x 8 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , commercial (1771) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Like English-speaking Montrealers, French Canadians wanted to carve out a place for themselves in this city that was theirs, too. A new French-speaking upper-middle class was emerging, active chiefly in wholesaling and certain manufacturing industries. The Rodiers, the Hudons, the Barsalous, the Rollands and the Viaus were just a few of the leading families in the French business community. They were not as powerful as their English counterparts, but they founded companies that were significant in the Montreal market. New French-Canadian financial institutions, including the Banque Jacques-Cartier (1861) and the Banque d'Hochelaga (1874), were founded that lent them support. In 1887 French-speaking businessmen established the Chambre de commerce du district de Montréal [Montreal District Chamber of Commerce] to defend their interests, which were poorly represented by the Board of Trade.
This engraving by John Henry Walker shows the building that Jean-Baptiste Rolland had constructed in 1855 to house his bookselling business.
The Rolland building stood at 12-14 St. Vincent Street, in Old Montreal. At the time, St. Vincent Street was one of the centres of the city's intellectual life, as a number of booksellers and publishers had set up shop there.
Having begun his career as a printer, Jean-Baptiste Rolland founded his bookstore in 1842; it soon became one of the biggest in Montreal. Forty years later, in 1882, he went into the business of manufacturing fine paper.
Jean-Baptiste Rolland (1815-88) was one of the most successful French-Canadian businessmen of the latter half of the 19th century. Of humble origins, he initially made his fortune in printing and bookselling, then diversified his business interests, becoming active in particular in real-estate development and manufacturing.