MP-1982.157 | Massawippi Falls & mill, Eastern Townships, QC, about 1865

Massawippi Falls & mill, Eastern Townships, QC, about 1865
Anonyme - Anonymous
about 1865, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
15 x 19 cm
Gift of Mr. Russell Taylor
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Photograph (77678) , Waterscape (2986)
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Keys to History

Rivers and other bodies of water formed a critical lifeblood in pre-Confederation Canada. They served as protective barriers, transportation routes and sources of water power. Waterfalls such as the one at Massawippi served various functions for their surrounding agricultural communities, grinding grain and running textile mills for wool or imported cotton. The fate of communities such as Massawippi Falls depended in large part on the proximity of a railway. This made the politics of railways in the Confederation period critical for their survival.

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

  • What

    Confederation was an important factor in changing the rules for small localities. Municipal government became a provincial responsibility and subsidies depended on the powers in Quebec City. In the local area, power shifted to the urban centre of Sherbrooke.

  • Where

    In the region of Sherbrooke, Massawippi is one example of a community which has suffered from depopulation as young people moved west or to cities. Massawippi found it difficult to export its products or finance bridges, schools and roads.

  • When

    Local mills and industries were still viable when this photograph was taken, which was the Confederation period of the mid-1860s. In the 20th century, these industries and their workers would be siphoned off.

  • Who

    Artisans, and farmers produced goods for consumption by people living around them. The growth of railways, urbanization and Confederation were centralizing forces that jeopardized the viability of local communities.