© McCord Museum
Cardinal Bégin, Montreal, QC, painted photograph, copied 1916
Wm. Notman & Son
1916, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
In Quebec the Catholic clergy mistrusted the campaigning by international trades unions, which were attracting ever more workers. The bishops feared for the faith of Catholic workers who belonged to these «mixed» associations. They were also afraid that the international unions would promote free education and obligatory school attendance or would demand the nationalization of public services. Such measures would bring state intervention in the Church's affairs. The increase in strikes made them fear for the stability of the social structure. It was in this context that in 1911 the bishops started the first Catholic trades unions. But they were slow to grow : such unions comprised only 23 of the 329 unions active in Quebec in 1916.
This is a photograph of a painting of Louis-Nazaire Bégin (1840-1925), archbishop of Quebec from 1898 after the death of Monsignor Taschereau (1820-1898).
The portrait was probably painted at the bishop's palace in Quebec City in 1914, after the archbishop had been made a cardinal by Pope Pius X.
The photograph was taken two years later, in 1916, by a member of the staff of William Notman & Son.
Monsignor Bégin cared deeply about the workers. His mediation during a two-month strike that paralyzed the footwear workshops of Québec in 1900 has passed into history. It paved the way for the unions to achieve denominational status.