M9220.127.116.119 | City Hall, Montreal
City Hall, Montreal
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
6.8 x 9.1 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , civic (349) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
The populist policies of Raymond Préfontaine, which benefited French-Canadian voters, raised the ire of a number of English-speaking city councillors who represented the interests of big business. Under the reform banner, they denounced the patronage practised by Préfontaine's organization and opposed the high spending that his major public works projects required. The confrontation between reformers and populists soon turned into a struggle between west and east, between English owners and the French working classes. This tension would characterize municipal politics for many decades. For the time being, French-Canadian populists were in control.
In 1878 Montreal's new city hall replaced the Bonsecours Market as the symbol of municipal political power.
The city hall is on Notre Dame Street, at one of the highest points in Old Montreal, looking down on the Champ de Mars. It sits on a site formerly occupied by a Jesuit convent and then by a prison.
Construction of the city hall began in 1872, and the building was officially opened on March 11, 1878. In 1922 a fire destroyed the building, leaving only the walls standing. When it was rebuilt, the work being completed in 1926, a storey was added and changes were made to the upper part of the building.
The architects of the city hall were Henri-Maurice Perrault (1828-1903) and Alexander Cowper Hutchison (1838-1922). Their design owed a great deal to the French Second Empire style and many city halls built in France at the time.