VIEW-19358.1 | Interior of office, Montreal, QC, 1920

Interior of office, Montreal, QC, 1920
Wm. Notman & Son
1920, 20th century
Silver salts on paper (matt finish double weight) - Gelatin silver process
18 x 23 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

With the advent of the telephone in the last two decades of the 19th century, young girls gained access to the new occupation of operator. Working-class girls were mostly attracted to this occupation, which arose as a result of the latest technological developments. Jobs with some prestige were rarely held by women, but the operator trade was an exception. These may well have been prestigious jobs, but they certainly were not very lucrative! Like nurses and schoolteachers, operators earned a meagre wage. Many of them had to work overtime to earn a decent living. Most were quite young, aged between 17 and 25, and left their jobs at the time of marriage. These unmarried young people had to be of good repute. The telephone companies required applicants to provide three certificates attesting to their good character, one of which had to be signed by a priest...

Source : Big Cities, New Horizons [Web tour], by Robert Gagnon, Université du Québec à Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    Photograph taken by the Notman and Sons studio of a business office; a telephone sits imposingly on the desk and a telephone book lies at its side.

  • Where

    Montreal, the metropolis of Canada and an industrial centre par excellence, quickly became the Canadian city with the largest number of telephone subscribers. Moreover, the Bell Company of Canada erected its first headquarters there in 1895.

  • When

    This photograph was taken in 1920. Three years later, the Bell Company boasted 100 000 subscribers in Montreal.

  • Who

    At the end of the 19th century, industrialists, businessmen and professionals were the first to use a new means of communication: the telephone.