M975.62.477 | MONTREAL.-THE GREAT PIANO AND FURNITURE AUCTION ROOMS OF HENRY J. SHAW, CRAIG STREET.

 
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MONTREAL.-THE GREAT PIANO AND FURNITURE AUCTION ROOMS OF HENRY J. SHAW, CRAIG STREET.
Eugene Haberer
1875, 19th century
Ink on newsprint - Photolithography
23.1 x 34.8 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
M975.62.477
© McCord Museum
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Keys to History

In contrast to languishing cities like Quebec City, centres like Montreal and Toronto flourished with railways and industrialization. Wealth, concert halls, universities and an expanding elite brought markets for pianos, palatial homes and racehorses. Anxious about its future, English Montreal consumed conspicuously and planned how the city could dominate in expansion into the West. The construction of a transcontinental railway from Montreal, and the imposition of a coast-to-coast state dominated by central Canada, were obvious answers. The achievement of Confederation was of particular importance for Montreal.

Source : Confederation: The Creation of Canada [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    English Montreal consumed conspicuously. The chandeliers, classical pillars and fine showcases of Henry Shaw's showroom give a strong sense of wealth and consumption.

  • Where

    This store was on the fringe of old Montreal. Stores would move uptown only at the end of the 19th century. The open framework of this showroom was made possible by the use of iron and technology perfected in the construction of the Crystal Palace.

  • When

    This engraving from 1875 is important in showing how Confederation brought continued economic success, particularly to those in finance or manufacturing in Montreal.

  • Who

    In the post-Confederation decade, wealthy Montrealers could afford paintings, fine clothes and expensive jewellery. Music, and particularly the piano, were a sign of good taste. Here shoppers, many of which are women, examine models imported from Europe and the United States.