MP-0000.809.5 | George Wait & Co.'s, William Street, Montreal, QC, copied before 1900
George Wait & Co.'s, William Street, Montreal, QC, copied before 1900
Anonyme - Anonymous
Before 1900, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
17 x 23 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G.Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
Towards the end of the 19th century, many companies involved in the trade in foodstuffs set up their warehouses and offices near the Port of Montreal and the Lachine Canal. These provision merchants, wholesalers for the most part, had close ties to foreign markets especially that of Great Britain which at the time was growing rapidly. To meet the booming British demand for dairy products, Montreal wholesalers encouraged farmers to increase their butter production and to start making cheddar cheese. Within a few years, the number of cheese and butter factories in Ontario and Quebec had grown exponentially. Although originally destined for sale abroad, these products were increasingly diverted to the local market to meet the needs of an expanding urban population.
The writing on the façade of the George Wait & Co. building tells us what the company did: selling and exporting flour and provisions, and specializing in dairy products.
The George Wait & Co. stores and warehouse were on William Street, at the corner of McGill Street, near the Ste. Anne market, the port and the entrance to the Lachine Canal.
Exports of Canadian butter and cheese to Great Britain reached record levels in the first few decades of the 20th century.
George Wait & Co. was one of many Montreal firms that exported Canadian butter and cheese. Butter and cheese exporters were an influential group; they formed the Cheese and Butter Association of the Montreal Board of Trade.