MP-0000.1297.1 | Group of workmen, demolition of buildings on University Street, Montreal, QC, about 1910

 
Photograph
Group of workmen, demolition of buildings on University Street, Montreal, QC, about 1910
About 1910, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
10.2 x 12.6 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.1297.1
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

This photograph shows a group of workmen demolishing buildings on University Street to make way for a high-rise. Montreal expanded rapidly in the pre-First World War period. Downtown, office buildings went up at a great rate, and in suburbs such as Mile End, on the city's northeast edge, housing construction boomed.

In 1871, there were 14 construction workshops in the St. Jacques area of Montreal, each employing between 3 and 22 workers. The workers built office buildings and houses as well as specialized parts - doors and door frames - and also did building repairs. The area of Ste. Anne had three carpentry shops manufacturing doors and doorframes; they employed between 30 and 80 workers.

Carpenters who worked in construction around the city had to provide and maintain their own tools. They also had to contend with the fact that workshops sometimes disappeared after a job was done, leaving the employees unemployed and unpaid. Other employers often delayed paying their workers. In general, however, workers who had jobs in shops were better off than those who worked on building sites. Work stopped completely on exterior jobs during the winter months, and many families suffered great hardship.

  • What

    In the 1880s, construction workers employed by workshops in Montreal often had to spend from $100 to $125 to buy their own tools and $10 to $15 each year to maintain the equipment. Such expenses were onerous to men earning from $1.50 to $2 a day.

  • Where

    This photograph shows a demolition site on University Street in Montreal.

  • When

    In 1912, eleven high-rises were built in Montreal.

  • Who

    The overalls worn by some of the men in this photograph appeared in the late 19th century as workwear. They were also worn by women and children as casual wear.