VIEW-2539.1 | Henry Morgan's Store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, QC, about 1890
Henry Morgan's Store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, QC, about 1890
Wm. Notman & Son
About 1890, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process ?
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , Cityscape (3948) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678) , streetscape (1737)
Keys to History
Architecturally and commercially, warehouses were the precursors of the department stores of the late 19th century. Most department stores were originally retail outlets specializing in one thing, usually dry goods: fabric, notions, and clothing. The range of products sold gradually expanded and stores became organized by departments. Customers could now purchase all sorts of things under one roof. Shopkeepers like Henry Morgan in Montreal and Timothy Eaton in Toronto had huge buildings constructed for this new purpose. Although some department stores maintained their exclusiveness, others sought a wider clientele. That was the path Eaton's took, and very successfully. The company innovated by having set prices, accepting cash only and guaranteeing satisfaction; in 1884, it also introduced its mail-order catalogue.
Henry Morgan's on St. Catherine Street is a beautiful Montreal example of a building specially designed as a department store.
St. Catherine Street West ran through the Golden Square Mile, home to many wealthy Montrealers. Luxury retail establishments like Morgan's opened in the heart of the area, around Phillips Square.
In 1891 the company founded by Henry Morgan moved away from Old Montreal, where it had been since 1843. It was one of the first retail stores to leave the prestigious St. James and Notre Dame streets for an emerging commercial artery, St. Catherine Street.
Henry Morgan's new building was designed by the American architect John Pearce Hill. Inspired by the latest in U.S. department stores, he gave Morgan's a look that would please its elegant women customers.