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© McCord Museum
Harrison Stephens' house and orchard, Dorchester Street, Montreal, QC, 1850-60
Anonyme - Anonymous
Copied in 1915, 20th century
Silver salts on glass ? - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The Victorian home was a haven from the chaotic public world of politics and business. Houses were given names that suggested a retreat, such as Homestead. Women who could afford to do so created a series of barriers that separated the cosy domestic interior from the harsh public world. Ideally, a house was set back from the street by a garden or lawn. Front steps led to a veranda; the door opened onto an entrance hall. Only carefully screened members of the public were admitted to the parlour to meet with the family. Inside, soft furnishings created a nest. Doorways were hung with portières, windows with heavy drapes; plush fabrics, patterned wallpapers and elaborate furnishings cocooned the inhabitants.


This Italianate house was built of local limestone. Homestead was the first Montreal house to have a smoking room--a masculine retreat from feminine domesticity.


In the midcentury, Dorchester Avenue (now René Lévesque Boulevard) was the most prestigious of addresses for the merchant princes of Montreal.


The house was built in the late 1850s and torn down in 1929 to make way for Canadian National Railway developments.


American-born Harrison Stephens built Homestead. Stephens was a wealthy tobacco and tea importer who was able to retire at the age of 40.

© Musée McCord Museum