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Montreal 1850-1896: The Industrial City

Paul-André Linteau, Université du Québec à Montréal

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Introduction:

By 1850 Montreal was already two hundred years old. A business metropolis and major port, it was the biggest city in British North America. It was about to embark on a new chapter in its history that would transform it into the largest industrial centre in the new nation of Canada. Its population and landscape would be permanently altered by the forces unleashed by the process of industrialization.

N.B. The commentary for this tour is a slightly modified version of Chapter 7 of Paul-André Linteau's book Brève histoire de Montréal (Montreal: Boréal, 1992), pp. 75-87.


MP-0000.1452.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Vue depuis le mont Royal, Montréal, QC, vers 1870
Alexander Henderson
Vers 1870, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur carton - Papier albuminé
23.5 x 33.5 cm
Don de Miss E. Dorothy Benson
MP-0000.1452.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

A Big City

After 1850 Montreal increasingly took on the characteristics of a big city. Its population, which was only 58,000 in 1852, had grown to over 267,000 by 1901; and if the suburbs were included, the figure reached almost 325,000. This was a significant change in magnitude.

Growth of this kind did not occur at a constant rate. After a sharp jump in the 1850s, followed by a slowdown in the next two decades, it soared in the early 1880s and then again at the very end of the century.

Around 1850 immigration was still strong, owing to the huge waves of Irish immigrants, which were beginning to dry up, however. The rural exodus took over as a source of growth for the Montreal population. In the last decades of the 19th century, thousands of people left the countryside, which had little to offer them, in the hopes of improving their lot. English-speaking Canadians from the Eastern Townships, Ontario and the Maritimes, but especially large numbers of French-speaking Quebeckers arrived in Montreal.

Quoi:

The picture shows the main part of urban Montreal around 1870. In the distance, the two towers of Notre Dame Church dominate the skyline. In the foreground, the residential neighbourhood of St. Antoine, which had recently become popular with wealthy Montrealers, can be seen.

Où:

The photograph was taken from the top of Mount Royal, a hill 230 m high. Painters and photographers were particularly fond of this vantage point, which provided a marvellous panorama of the city. The top of Mount Royal would not become a public park until a few years later, in 1874.

Quand:

Three years after Confederation, the new nation called Canada was already one of the largest countries in the world. Montreal was its economic hub.

Qui:

By 1871 Montreal had a population of 107,225, with 53% being of French ancestry, 45% of British ancestry and only 2% of other origins.

M19761
© Musée McCord
Carte
Carte de la ville de Montréal et des alentours
Octobre 1890, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Lithographie
62.3 x 93.3 cm
Don de la succession de Miss Dorothy Coles
M19761
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

To provide housing for all these new arrivals, as well as for the children of already established Montrealers, a huge number of new dwellings had to be built. This meant that the urban area had to expand. In the beginning, the city was able to accommodate the new immigrants within its existing limits, but by the 1870s, the population was overflowing into new suburban municipalities: Hochelaga to the east, St. Jean Baptiste to the north, and St. Gabriel, Ste. Cunégonde and St. Henri to the southwest; other suburban towns sprang up in the following years. By 1891 there were already close to 70,000 people living in these newly urbanized areas surrounding the original city. Montreal began to try to incorporate these municipalities that had sprouted on its outskirts, annexing four of them between 1883 and 1893.

Quoi:

The map shows the City of Montreal's old municipal boundaries, established in 1792. It also indicates the limits of the main suburban municipalities.

Où:

The arrow indicating north points to the right. But Montrealers refer to that part of the city as east. Popular usage is not strictly correct, geographically speaking.

Quand:

This 1890 map was drawn after the first annexations. Former municipalities became wards within the City of Montreal: Hochelaga (1883), St. Jean Baptiste (1886) and St. Gabriel (1887).

Qui:

This map is signed by engineer Charles Edward Goad. His office also produced highly detailed, coloured city maps showing each piece of land and each building.

II-146359
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Maisons photographiées pour M. Meredith, Montréal, QC, 1903
Wm. Notman & Son
1903, 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-146359
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

As the city's limits expanded, its residential architecture underwent profound changes. After ruling supreme in Montreal for 200 years, the traditional gable-roofed wooden or stone house (shown in the picture) was quickly abandoned in favour of new models. The flat roof was adopted as the standard, and the use of brick became widespread. A new type of row house, with a laneway running behind the lots, made its appearance in fashionable neighbourhoods: this was the British-inspired terrace house.

Quoi:

This wooden house, with its gable roof and dormer window, is typical of old working-class housing in Montreal. The sidewalks are made of wood, and the street is not paved.

Où:

The house number is 109, but the name of the street is not known. The house is probably located in one of the city's older neighbourhoods. Not far away is a more modern building, maybe a factory, that can be seen in the background, on the right.

Quand:

It is not known when the house was built, but it could have been over 50 years old when this photograph was taken. The City prohibited wood construction after the great fire of 1852.

Qui:

This house was probably lived in by a working-class family with a very modest income or by an impoverished family.

II-146724
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Arrière de l'épicerie Joseph Bastien, rue Barré angle de la ruelle Gareau, Montréal, QC, 1903
Wm. Notman & Son
1903, 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-146724
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

In working-class neighbourhoods, the big architectural innovation was the duplex, a two-storey building with one flat on top of another. Its popularity soared starting in the 1860s and it became the standard model for Montreal housing. The duplex later evolved into the triplex and its variants, some of which consisted of up to five or six dwellings. These new models met the needs of a rapidly increasing population made up chiefly of low-income tenants seeking reasonably priced housing. Architectural innovation was not limited to the residential sector. The way commercial buildings were constructed changed dramatically, too: open plans, iron or steel structures, and elevators made it possible to erect bigger, taller buildings. There were many fine examples of Victorian architectural styles, especially in Old Montreal, where new warehouses and office buildings were put up -- resulting, however, in the elimination of a large part of the city's French architectural heritage.

Quoi:

This picture shows a row of brick duplexes. The buildings come right up to the edge of the sidewalk, and the staircases are inside. In the 1880s, the trend switched to building back from the sidewalk, which allowed the staircases to be built outside.

Où:

Duplexes were built all over the city. The styles were more modest in working-class neighbourhoods, more elaborate in fashionable areas.

Quand:

The first duplexes were erected in the late 1850s, and ever since then Montrealers have continued to build them. The style and form have evolved with the times, however.

Qui:

Duplexes like these were primarily intended for Montrealers who had to rent because they did not have enough money to become property owners.

VIEW-2404
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Ballade en tandem, Montréal, QC, 1889
Wm. Notman & Son
1889, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-2404
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Demographic growth and expansion of the city limits made it necessary to establish modern public utility systems. The inauguration of the new water supply system, in 1856, meant that it was possible to distribute water efficiently throughout the city. An underground sewer system was also built, which helped to clean up the urban environment. The Fire Department was set up in 1863 and the Board of Health in 1865. The municipality also provided other services, such as building inspection, police, markets and parks.

Montreal's first big park, Mount Royal, was established in 1874. The most famous landscape architect of the time, the American Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), who had designed New York's Central Park in 1858, was commissioned to develop it. The City later created La Fontaine Park and the park on St. Helen's Island -- the land in both cases having been obtained from the federal government a few years earlier.

Quoi:

A tandem was a two-wheeled open carriage drawn by two horses harnessed one behind the other. In Montreal, in winter, a sleigh was substituted for the two-wheeled carriage.

Où:

Mount Royal Park was created with the aim of preserving the highest point on the Island of Montreal for future generations. It provided Montrealers with a beautiful place to walk and admire spectacular views of the city and its surroundings.

Quand:

In winter Mount Royal Park attracted many sports enthusiasts. Snowshoe clubs made regular excursions there, and it was also an ideal place for strolling and sleigh rides.

Qui:

Mount Royal Park appealed especially to the well-heeled Montrealers who lived in the St. Antoine neighbourhood. Streetcars did not yet have access to the park, but a funicular railway carried people directly up to the top of the hill.

MP-1980.394.103
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Tramway dans la rue Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC, 1893-1894
Anonyme - Anonymous
1893-1894, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Plaque sèche à la gélatine
8 x 10 cm
Don de Mr. Robert Riley
MP-1980.394.103
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Some public utilities, such as public transit, were operated by private enterprise. A streetcar service was introduced in Montreal in 1861. The horse-drawn cars ran on rails in the summer and were fitted with runners for the snow and ice in winter. The system of streetcar lines expanded gradually until 1892 and then much more rapidly as much faster, more efficient electric streetcars were introduced, ushering in the real age of mass transit. This new technology contributed to urban expansion by making it easier to travel across the city.

Other public utilities were also provided by private enterprise. Natural gas had been distributed since 1836. Electricity, the first public demonstration of which was made by French-Canadian industrialist J.-A.-I. Craig in 1879, became a public utility in the 1880s and began to replace natural gas for street lighting. Telephones were introduced starting in 1877.

Quoi:

An electric streetcar is coupled to an old horse-drawn car. In summer many of the streetcars used in Montreal were open cars, which had to be converted for winter use when the season changed.

Où:

By 1893 Ste. Catherine was already starting to become the city's main shopping street. The streetcar system was a key factor in this development, as it provided a means of transportation for customers who lived farther out.

Quand:

After a number of trials, the age of the electric streetcar began for real in 1888, in Richmond, Virginia. The adoption of this new technology in 1892 placed Montreal at the forefront of technological progress.

Qui:

Financier Louis-Joseph Forget (1853-1911), who became chairman of the streetcar company in 1892, was the driving force behind the electrification of the public transit system.

VIEW-1485.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Jour de marché, place Jacques-Cartier, Montréal, QC, 1884-1885
Wm. Notman & Son
1884-1885, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-1485.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

By the end of the 19th century, Montreal had acquired all the characteristics of a big modern city. All the latest inventions, from the elevator to the electric streetcar, were quickly adopted. The city also had a large number of newspapers, both French and English, that provided domestic and foreign news, keeping Montrealers informed about what was happening in the world around them. Older institutions, such as The Gazette (1778), The Herald (1811) and La Minerve (1826), soon had to compete with new publications such as The Star (1869), La Presse (1884) and La Patrie (1879).

Quoi:

The offices of the newspaper La Minerve, an organ of the Conservative Party, were located on Jacques Cartier Square. It was Montreal's oldest French daily.

Où:

Jacques Cartier Square was built in the early 19th century to accommodate a public market. At the time, it stood at the heart of the city centre, close to the city hall.

Quand:

Founded in 1826, La Minerve ceased publishing in 1899, unable to compete with the mass-market newspapers that had sprung up.

Qui:

Jacques Cartier Square was frequented chiefly by farmers from the surrounding region who came to Montreal to sell their produce to city folk.

M977X.56
© Musée McCord
Affiche
Grande Exposition Agricole et Industrielle de la Puissance
Anonyme - Anonymous
1884, 19e siècle
219 x 106 cm
M977X.56
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The Impact of Industry

Montreal's expansion during the second half of the 19th century was primarily due to the growth of manufacturing. Canada experienced a first wave of industrialization starting in the 1840s, followed by a second wave in the 1880s. By the time of the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1840, the Canadian domestic market had grown large enough to support independent manufacturing production in some sectors and so free the country from its reliance on imports. This market expanded further in 1867, thanks to Confederation, and continued to grow in the years that followed, with the acquisition of the Northwest Territories and the incorporation of British Columbia into Canada. It was only natural that a major part of this new manufacturing activity should be concentrated in the city that constituted the hub of the country's transportation, commercial and financial systems.

Quoi:

This poster for a Montreal Exhibition highlights the city's role as a metropolis. The French word puissance is here employed to render the English term "dominion," used to refer to Canada.

Où:

The Exhibition was held on the outskirts of the city, in the north part of what is today Jeanne Mance Park (formerly Fletcher's Field), and on the far side of Mount Royal Avenue.

Quand:

In 1884 Montreal was enjoying a period of expansion and prosperity, after the problems created by the depression of the 1870s. The building of the Canadian Pacific railway was nearing completion, and the line was opened the following year.

Qui:

Montreal manufacturers were some of the stars of the Exhibition, showcasing products manufactured in the factories of the city and its suburbs.

VIEW-809.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Banque de Montréal, Montréal, QC, 1878-1880
Notman & Sandham
1878-1880, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
10 x 8 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-809.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The networks set up by Montreal businessmen prior to 1850 continued to develop. Montreal wholesalers, who were increasingly differentiating themselves from retailers, served a huge clientèle of merchants established in small towns, villages and rural areas. Montreal banks grew in number and extended their branch networks. The Bank of Montreal was still the largest in the country, but other institutions, such as the Merchants Bank and Molson's Bank, were providing increasingly stiffer competition. Smaller in size, French-Canadian banks such as the Banque d'Hochelaga and the Banque Jacques-Cartier, nevertheless managed to win a share of the market.

Quoi:

The head office building of the Bank of Montreal was constructed between 1845 and 1847; in 1859 further work was done to raise the height of the walls. The architectural design was based on that of the Commercial Bank in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Où:

The building sits on the north side of Place d'Armes, opposite Notre Dame Church and the St. Sulpice Seminary. Thus, this symbol of the economic power of the English bourgeoisie comes face-to-face with the symbol of the economic and religious power of the French Catholic Church.

Quand:

This picture was taken shortly after the severe economic depression of 1874 to 1878, which left many Montreal companies severely shaken.

Qui:

The president of the Bank of Montreal at the time was George Stephen, later to become Lord Mount Stephen (1829-1921), a wealthy businessman who had emigrated from Scotland. A short time later he became president of Canadian Pacific Railway, a position he held throughout the period when the transcontinental line was being built.

II-116749
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Déchargement du vapeur « Durham City », Montréal, QC, 1896
Wm. Notman & Son
1896, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-116749
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Montreal's chief advantage was its strategic position as a transportation system hub. Its port was the busiest in Canada: every summer it turned into a forest of ships' masts. The Harbour Board upgraded the port facilities and, spurred on by its energetic chairman, John Young (1811-78), in 1850 it began digging a shipping channel in the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and Montreal. Once the work was completed, larger ocean-going vessels could travel upriver as far as Montreal. The Allan brothers, Hugh and Andrew, founded one of the largest transatlantic shipping lines in the history of Canada and were very involved in many other Montreal enterprises.

Quoi:

Cargo from the steamship Durham City is unloaded onto the wharf at the port of Montreal, where it awaits shipment to its final destination.

Où:

The wharves of the port were served directly by the railway, as can be seen from the cars on the left in the picture. There was obviously very little room to manoeuvre, however, and expansion work was urgently needed.

Quand:

In 1896 the Harbour Board began major renovations at the port, including the building of new raised wharves and the construction of freight warehouses and grain elevators.

Qui:

The longshoremen who loaded and unloaded the ships made up most of the port work force. Their work was physically demanding. At the height of the season, they had to put in very long hours, but in winter, when shipping was halted because of the ice, they were unemployed for five months.

VIEW-1948.0
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Gare du CP, Montréal, QC, 1889
Wm. Notman & Son
1885-1915, 19e siècle ou 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-1948.0
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

A leader in maritime shipping, Montreal was also dominant in the railway sector, which played a key role in distributing manufactured goods. Two major railways were built in Canada: the Grand Trunk Railway, which served southern Quebec and Ontario from 1854 on, and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which crossed the country and reached the Vancouver area in 1886. Both companies set up their headquarters in Montreal, as well as their main rolling-stock manufacturing and maintenance shops. They had a big impact on the city's economy.

Quoi:

This building was erected to accommodate the headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its main station in Montreal, Windsor Station.

Où:

The building sits on the southwest corner of Dominion Square (now Place du Canada), which was one of Montreal's most prestigious business addresses in the late 19th century. Located in the heart of the very upscale St. Antoine ward, it was also close to the Grand Trunk's Bonaventure Station.

Quand:

Construction of the building began in 1887, and it was officially opened on February 1, 1889. Subsequently, two major additions were made, the first in 1900 and the second between 1910 and 1912.

Qui:

The American architect Bruce Price (1845-1903) was commissioned to design the building. He would leave his mark on Canadian architecture through other creations, too, including the famous Château Frontenac in Quebec City and the Viger Station and Hotel in east end Montreal. Price is a good example of the growing influence that American architects had in Montreal from the end of the 19th century.

M930.50.5.587
© Musée McCord
Gravure
Ames Holden & Co.
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
Vers 1880, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Gravure sur bois
7.3 x 8.5 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M930.50.5.587
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Montreal manufacturing, with its production activities concentrated in large mechanized factories, did not really get going until the 1840s. There were two distinct sectors: light industry and heavy industry. In contrast to heavy industry, light industry relied on an abundant supply of relatively unskilled, poorly paid workers, many of whom were French Canadians who had come to the city from rural areas. It included several different industries. Shoemaking, an old Montreal specialty, was the city's largest industry in 1870. Thanks to technology imported from the United States, shoe production became highly mechanized during this period.

Quoi:

This engraving shows the Ames, Holden & Co. factory around 1880. At the time of Confederation, this company already had the largest shoe factory in Montreal.

Où:

The factory was on Victoria Square, west of Old Montreal. Many of the first shoe factories were located in this part of the city. Towards the end of the 19th century, shoe manufacturers began moving east, to the Ste. Marie district, and then later to the suburb of Maisonneuve.

Quand:

Originally founded under a different name in 1853, the company became Ames, Holden & Co. in 1871. It occupied a number of different locations during its history and moved its factory to Victoria Square in 1879 or 1880.

Qui:

One of the founders of the company, Evan Fisher Ames, was an American immigrant who was a prime mover in transferring new technology from the United States to Canada. His son, Herbert Brown Ames (1863-1954), became the leader of the reform movement that emerged in municipal politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

MP-1985.31.180
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Femme repassant des cols empesés, M. T. S., QC, vers 1901
N. M. Hinshelwood
Vers 1901, 19e siècle ou 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
16 x 21 cm
Don d'un donateur anonyme
MP-1985.31.180
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Like shoe manufacturing, the clothing industry was also a major component of the Montreal manufacturing sector. Clothing production was scattered among a large number of small workshops not far from the city centre. The textile industry, on the other hand, set up in what were then the suburbs, building huge factories like the one owned by Victor Hudon (1812-97) in Hochelaga. These factories specialized in cotton fabrics. Around the same time, Montreal also became the largest tobacco-processing centre in Canada. In the extensive food-processing sector, the city attracted a wide range of industries, including flour mills, sugar refineries, breweries, distilleries, meat packers and biscuit factories.

Quoi:

The initials M. T. S. probably refer to the Montreal Toilet Supply Co. Ltd. The scene is therefore more representative of industrial laundering (a service-sector activity) than of the clothing industry.

Où:

The company is listed as being at 589 Dorchester Street, close to the city centre. It also had a branch in the west end of the city, at 4228 Ste. Catherine Street.

Quand:

The company first appeared in Lovell's Directory in 1897-98, but its name is not listed in the 1901-02 edition.

Qui:

N. M. Hinshelwood was a Montreal photographer who specialized in taking pictures of industrial sites and machinery. He also produced a number of tourism brochures, including Montreal and Vicinity.

M930.50.7.92
© Musée McCord
Gravure
Campbell & Jones, Canal Basin Saw Works (usine de fabrication de scies)
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1858, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Gravure sur bois
13.8 x 22 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M930.50.7.92
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Besides light industry, the other main type of manufacturing in Montreal was heavy industry. It employed a far more skilled, and therefore better paid, work force, which was for the most part of British origin. There were two major sectors. The first was iron and steel products, which were required for the manufacture of not only engines, rails and pipes, but also stoves, utensils, tools and hardware. The other one was the railway stock sector.

Quoi:

This saw-making factory is typical of the iron-and-steel-processing companies that sprang up in Montreal in the second half of the 19th century.

Où:

The factory was located on the south side of the Lachine Canal, near the St. Gabriel locks. This area of the city is regarded as being the birthplace of Montreal industry.

Quand:

The company is listed in the 1855-56 Lovell's Directory, but not in the 1861-62 edition. It was therefore part of the city's first wave of industrialization, in the mid-19th century.

Qui:

The owners of the company were John Campbell and E. T. Jones, both of whom lived not far from the factory.

VIEW-20587.0
© Musée McCord
Photographie composite
Personnel du service d'ingénierie, chemin de fer du Grand Tronc, photographie composite, 1896, copie réalisée vers 1922
Wm. Notman & Son
1922, 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-20587.0
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The existence of the railway stock manufacturing sector was directly attributable to the Montreal operations of the two big railways, the Grand Trunk and Canadian Pacific, which gave plenty of business to suppliers. Montreal companies produced locomotives and railway cars as well as the parts required to manufacture them.

What was already striking at the time was the diversity of Montreal industry, which included most of the major manufacturing sectors.

Quoi:

The entire engineering department staff of the Grand Trunk Railway is shown assembled in this picture thanks to the magic of the composite photograph, which was a specialty of the William Notman & Son studio of Montreal. The staff members were photographed individually and then their pictures were stuck onto the background.

Où:

The Grand Trunk workshops were located at the Point St. Charles in the Ste. Anne ward. They were one of the city's biggest employers. Canadian Pacific had its shops in the east end, in Hochelaga.

Quand:

In 1896 the railways formed a major component of the city's economy. They were about to enter a new phase of development, serving the newly settled regions of western Canada.

Qui:

Engineers were the stars of the industrial economy. They represented the élite staff of large companies. The railways hired large numbers of highly trained personnel, many of whom were recruited in England or Scotland.

VIEW-2944
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Vue de Montréal depuis la cheminée de la centrale de la Montreal Street Railway, QC, 1896
Wm. Notman & Son
1896, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-2944
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Manufacturing activity in the city gave birth to what is called an industrial landscape. Companies tended to set up their factories close to the port or to railway tracks. Working-class housing would be built close to the factories. No area better illustrates this phenomenon than the one near the Lachine Canal, the birthplace of Montreal industry. The Grand Trunk Railway workshops, factories producing machinery and other iron and steel products, spinning mills and the Redpath sugar refinery were all located here; their employees lived nearby.

Quoi:

Partial view of the industrial area along the Lachine Canal and around the adjoining basins, at the end of the 19th century. The biggest factories are located along the canal; the working-class homes of factory employees can be seen on the right in the photograph.

Où:

The picture shows the western part of the canal, near the St. Gabriel locks. The largest factory, on the far left, is the Redpath sugar refinery, the smokestacks of which dominate the landscape.

Quand:

The sugar refinery opened in 1855. It expanded its facilities significantly, in stages, over the following decades.

Qui:

John Redpath (1796-1869) was born in Scotland and arrived in Canada at the age of 20. He made a fortune in construction and then invested in other areas. In 1854 he began building Canada's first sugar refinery. This major investment turned out to be a huge success.

M4824
© Musée McCord
Carte
Ville de Montréal
Anonyme - Anonymous
1888, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Lithographie
55.8 x 91.4 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M4824
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

In addition to the Lachine Canal, a second industrial area also developed, but in the east end of the city, in the Ste. Marie district, and then in Hochelaga. Many shoemaking companies, food-processing plants, including the Molson brewery and the Viau biscuit company, and the Macdonald's tobacco factory were located there. Canadian Pacific had its workshops there, as did the streetcar company. A third industrial area, home to the garment industry, sprang up north of the city centre.

Quoi:

Bird's-eye views like this one were very popular in the late 19th century. They were not always rigorously accurate because the artists who drew them tended to exaggerate certain features or to interpret the landscape and the building architecture. They are valuable as historical documents, however, as they do provide evidence of the general appearance of the urban landscape.

Où:

This bird's-eye view does help locate the two major industrial areas, easily distinguishable by the plumes of smoke. To the left, the Lachine Canal area can clearly be made out. On the far right, close examination reveals the location of the east-end industrial area, with its main factories indicated.

Quand:

Dating from 1888, this picture provides visual evidence of what Montreal looked like after the second wave of industrialization, which occurred in the 1880s.

Qui:

This view of Montreal was printed by a Toronto company. It was not unusual for a specialized company to produce pictures of cities other than the one in which it was established.

MP-1985.31.181
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Femmes empesant des cols et des poignets, M. T. S., QC, vers 1901
N. M. Hinshelwood
Vers 1901, 19e siècle ou 20e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
16 x 21 cm
Don d'un donateur anonyme
MP-1985.31.181
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

At the turn of the 20th century, a growing proportion of the labour force was employed in factories. Working conditions were very harsh and wages very low, especially for unskilled workers. To make ends meet, many families had to send their children, especially teenagers, out to work. Under these circumstances, the level of education remained fairly low. Housewives had to keep tight control over the family budget, find work they could do at home or take in boarders. Unemployment was common. The trade union movement, which was in its infancy, protected chiefly the most skilled workers. The average working-class family lived a very precarious existence. Illness was common and mortality rates, especially among infants, were very high. Eighty percent of all Montrealers were tenants, and their low incomes meant that they could not always afford decent housing.

Quoi:

These young women working in an industrial laundry are a good illustration of the important role that women played in the labour force.

Où:

Whereas they had formerly been employed above all as domestic help in private homes, young women were increasingly taking jobs in factories. While large numbers of women worked in the textile and clothing industries, some were also employed in other branches of manufacturing and in the service sector.

Quand:

In factories, women put in 10-to-12-hour days. Employment was often intermittent, however, with layoffs occurring when seasons changed or when economic activity slowed.

Qui:

Most female workers were young single women. Some parents preferred keeping their daughters at home to help with domestic chores. Others, in increasing numbers, sent them out to look for work at around 15 years of age. Usually they continued working until they married.

II-112762
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Salon, résidence de Mme Alex McDougall, Montréal, QC, 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
1895, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-112762
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The financial situation of company heads and their senior managers was very enviable, contrasting sharply with that of the working-class population. They lived in large, spacious, well-lit houses that were surrounded by big gardens. They had numerous domestic servants as well as the means to hold tea parties, banquets and receptions.

Social differences became increasingly glaring in Montreal in the second half of the 19th century.

Quoi:

This living room was typical of the interior of upper-middle-class Montreal homes near the end of the 1800s. The decor was somewhat cluttered, as can be seen from the large number of curios, paintings and other objects.

Où:

This home stood at 124 Mackay Street, at the corner of Ste. Catherine, in the St. Antoine ward. This was the fashionable area of Montreal, which later came to be known as the Golden Square Mile.

Quand:

Beginning in the 1840s, many businessmen, especially English-speaking ones, moved their homes from Old Montreal to the St. Antoine ward. In the second half of the 19th century, this neighbourhood became the wealthiest and most elegant in Montreal.

Qui:

Alex McDougall was the chief executive officer of the Montreal Steam Elevating Co.

I-63541.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Sir Hugh Allan, Montréal, QC, 1871
William Notman (1826-1891)
1871, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-63541.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

A British City with a French Heart

In 1850, Montrealers of British ancestry accounted for a majority of the city's population. But as immigration slowed and the rural exodus quickened, the demographic situation shifted: French Canadians regained their majority position around 1865, and by the turn of the century represented approximately 60% of the population. Nevertheless, the city still retained a distinctly British character, owing to its institutions, its architecture and the predominance of the English language.

The weight and influence of the Anglo-Scottish upper class were particularly noticeable. The Molsons, the Allan brothers, George Stephen, Donald Smith and William Macdonald amassed huge fortunes by investing in a number of different sectors; they controlled pan?Canadian companies and maintained close ties with Great Britain.

Quoi:

Shipping magnate and financier Sir Hugh Allan (1810-82) was one of Montreal's most powerful businessmen in the second half of the 19th century. He founded the first shipping line providing regular service between Montreal and Great Britain.

Où:

Born in Scotland, Hugh Allan spent most of his life in Montreal. With his many companies, he helped strengthen Montreal's position as Canada's metropolis. He invested in shipping, railways, the telegraph, banking, insurance and manufacturing.

Quand:

In 1871 Hugh Allan, at age 61, was probably at the peak of his power. He lived in a magnificent home, called Ravenscrag, that he had had built between 1861 and 1864 on the slopes of Mount Royal.

Qui:

Hugh Allan himself was the son of a Scottish shipping company owner. One of his brothers, Andrew, joined him in Montreal, but the others stayed back in Scotland. All the members of the family, on both sides of the Atlantic, were involved in running Sir Hugh's shipping line.

II-116161
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Résidence et jardin de W. R. Miller, rue Stanley, Montréal, QC, 1896
Wm. Notman & Son
1896, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
12 x 20 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-116161
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The Anglo-Scottish upper class lived in luxurious homes at the foot of Mount Royal, in the St. Antoine ward. They belonged to fancy clubs with very selective membership criteria. They contributed generously to the funding of English Protestant institutions such as McGill University and the Montreal General Hospital. The Montreal Board of Trade was the respected mouthpiece of this dominant class.

Quoi:

A large villa surrounded by gardens: this was the typical setting in which the Montreal business élite lived toward the end of the 19th century.

Où:

W. R. Miller's house stood at 308 Stanley Street, near Sherbrooke.

Quand:

The house was built around 1896, according to the plans of architect Robert Findlay.

Qui:

W. R. Miller was a stock broker at the Montreal Stock Exchange. His company was Robert Moat & Co.

M930.50.7.335
© Musée McCord
Gravure
J. B. Rolland
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Gravure sur bois
10.6 x 8 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M930.50.7.335
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Like English-speaking Montrealers, French Canadians wanted to carve out a place for themselves in this city that was theirs, too. A new French-speaking upper-middle class was emerging, active chiefly in wholesaling and certain manufacturing industries. The Rodiers, the Hudons, the Barsalous, the Rollands and the Viaus were just a few of the leading families in the French business community. They were not as powerful as their English counterparts, but they founded companies that were significant in the Montreal market. New French-Canadian financial institutions, including the Banque Jacques-Cartier (1861) and the Banque d'Hochelaga (1874), were founded that lent them support. In 1887 French-speaking businessmen established the Chambre de commerce du district de Montréal [Montreal District Chamber of Commerce] to defend their interests, which were poorly represented by the Board of Trade.

Quoi:

This engraving by John Henry Walker shows the building that Jean-Baptiste Rolland had constructed in 1855 to house his bookselling business.

Où:

The Rolland building stood at 12-14 St. Vincent Street, in Old Montreal. At the time, St. Vincent Street was one of the centres of the city's intellectual life, as a number of booksellers and publishers had set up shop there.

Quand:

Having begun his career as a printer, Jean-Baptiste Rolland founded his bookstore in 1842; it soon became one of the biggest in Montreal. Forty years later, in 1882, he went into the business of manufacturing fine paper.

Qui:

Jean-Baptiste Rolland (1815-88) was one of the most successful French-Canadian businessmen of the latter half of the 19th century. Of humble origins, he initially made his fortune in printing and bookselling, then diversified his business interests, becoming active in particular in real-estate development and manufacturing.

M930.50.7.279
© Musée McCord
Gravure
Marché Bonsecours et hôtel de ville, Montréal
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1852, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Gravure sur bois
10.4 x 18.7 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M930.50.7.279
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

In 1878 the new city hall replaced the Bonsecours Market as the symbol of municipal political power in Montreal. At around the same time, French Canadians were becoming successful not only in establishing major companies, but also in making a breakthrough in municipal politics. In 1882 they won a one-seat majority on city council and, from 1883 on, managed to strengthen their position through annexations. Things would no longer be the same. City councillor Raymond Préfontaine forged a strong political organization that found most of its support among the French-speaking population. When he came to power at City Hall, he practised populist politics aimed at ensuring that French-Canadian voters and the east end of the city benefited from the major road development work his administration undertook.

Quoi:

The Bonsecours Market housed a public market for well over a century (1847-1964). It also served as Montreal's city hall for a quarter of a century (1852-78).

Où:

The Bonsecours Market is located in the eastern part of Old Montreal. One of its façades gives onto St. Paul Street, the city's oldest street. The other façade overlooks the harbour. The building thus represents a symbolic link between the city and the river.

Quand:

Construction of the Bonsecours Market began in 1844, and the building was inaugurated in 1847. The interior was not finished until 1851, however.

Qui:

The municipal council sat in a room on the upper floor of the building. Butchers had their stalls on the ground floor, while farmers who came to sell their produce at the market set up their stands outside, around the building.

M930.50.8.269
© Musée McCord
Gravure
Hôtel de ville, Montréal
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Gravure sur bois
6.8 x 9.1 cm
Don de Mr. David Ross McCord
M930.50.8.269
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The populist policies of Raymond Préfontaine, which benefited French-Canadian voters, raised the ire of a number of English-speaking city councillors who represented the interests of big business. Under the reform banner, they denounced the patronage practised by Préfontaine's organization and opposed the high spending that his major public works projects required. The confrontation between reformers and populists soon turned into a struggle between west and east, between English owners and the French working classes. This tension would characterize municipal politics for many decades. For the time being, French-Canadian populists were in control.

Quoi:

In 1878 Montreal's new city hall replaced the Bonsecours Market as the symbol of municipal political power.

Où:

The city hall is on Notre Dame Street, at one of the highest points in Old Montreal, looking down on the Champ de Mars. It sits on a site formerly occupied by a Jesuit convent and then by a prison.

Quand:

Construction of the city hall began in 1872, and the building was officially opened on March 11, 1878. In 1922 a fire destroyed the building, leaving only the walls standing. When it was rebuilt, the work being completed in 1926, a storey was added and changes were made to the upper part of the building.

Qui:

The architects of the city hall were Henri-Maurice Perrault (1828-1903) and Alexander Cowper Hutchison (1838-1922). Their design owed a great deal to the French Second Empire style and many city halls built in France at the time.

II-85064
© Musée McCord
Photographie composite
Conseil municipal de Montréal, QC, photographie composite, 1885, copie réalisée en 1887
Wm. Notman & Son
1887, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-85064
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Interethnic tension reached a peak in 1885. A smallpox epidemic led to serious clashes, even riots, over the issue of compulsory vaccination. Some members of the upper classes, especially the English-speaking élite, were very much in favour, whereas part of the French-speaking population was resolutely against it. The same year, the hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel sparked strong reactions from French Canadians.

Quoi:

This composite photograph shows the thirty or so councillors (three per ward) who, with the mayor, formed the Montreal Municipal Council in 1885.

Où:

The individuals have been placed in the setting of the city hall's municipal council chamber on Notre Dame Street.

Quand:

In 1885 the majority of council members were French-speaking. The council's greatest challenge that year was managing the crisis caused by the smallpox epidemic, which resulted in 3,234 deaths, in a city with a population of under 200,000.

Qui:

The mayor of Montreal at the time was Honoré Beaugrand (1848-1906), a journalist and the owner of the daily La Patrie, which he had founded in 1879. A committed liberal, Beaugrand belonged to the radical movement that opposed the Ultramontanists, traditional Roman Catholics who believed in the supremacy of Church over State.

I-4562.0.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Monseigneur Ignace Bourget, Montréal, QC, copie réalisée en 1862
William Notman (1826-1891)
1862, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
8 x 5 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-4562.0.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

As a general rule, English-speaking and French-speaking Montrealers tended to lead separate lives, each community having its own institutions. Among French Montrealers, the Catholic Church played a major role in social organization. It enjoyed a veritable renaissance during the episcopate of Ignace Bourget. Thanks to the support of a larger, better-educated clergy, the bishop was able to provide better guidance to his congregation. After a long, drawn-out struggle with the Sulpicians, he succeeded, in 1865, in getting Rome to divide up the parish of Notre Dame, thus allowing him to increase the number of parishes within the same area.

Quoi:

Ignace Bourget was bishop of Montreal, but his diocese extended over a much larger territory, the city of Montreal being only a small part of it. This territory gradually shrank as new dioceses were created, such as the diocese of St. Hyacinthe in 1852 and that of Valleyfield in 1893.

Où:

It was from Rome that Bourget found inspiration for strengthening discipline in the Church. He identified with the Ultramontanists. Even the new cathedral he had built was modelled after St. Peter's in Rome.

Quand:

Ignace Bourget became bishop of Montreal in 1840, on the death of his predecessor, Bishop Jean-Jacques Lartigue (1777-1840). He resigned in 1876 over conflicts that were dividing the Catholic Church in Quebec.

Qui:

Ignace Bourget (1799-1885) was born into a farming family in Lauzon, near Quebec City. He studied at the seminary in Nicolet, becoming secretary to Bishop Jean-Jacques Lartigue in 1821. It was Lartigue who chose Bourget as his successor and had the Pope approve the choice.

MP-0000.2821
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Vieux réfectoire des hommes, couvent des Soeurs Grises, Montréal, QC, vers 1890
James George Parks
1889-1894, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur carton - Papier albuminé
7 x 14 cm
Don de Mrs. J. B. Learmont
MP-0000.2821
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

While bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget strengthened the influence of the clergy by persuading a number of French religious orders to come to Canada and by promoting the growth of those already established in Montreal. Women's orders played a major role in this process, administering hospitals and being involved in social services and education.

Quoi:

One of the social services provided by nuns was the lodging of the elderly in establishments called hospices. This photograph taken by James Parks shows the interior of a men's hospice run by the Grey Nuns. Meals were served in a common room called a refectory.

Où:

The Order of Grey Nuns (or Sisters of Charity) was founded in Montreal in the 18th century.

Quand:

In the second half of the 19th century, women's religious orders expanded significantly in Quebec, with their membership increasing tenfold.

Qui:

The Order of Grey Nuns was founded by Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais (1701-71), widow d'Youville, better known as Marguerite d'Youville, or Mother d'Youville.

MP-0000.840.14
© Musée McCord
Impression
La rue Saint-Denis montrant l'Université Laval, Montréal, QC, vers 1910
Anonyme - Anonymous
Vers 1910, 20e siècle
Encre de couleur sur papier monté sur carton - Photolithographie
8 x 13 cm
Don de Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.840.14
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget, had to fight long and hard for the establishment of a Catholic university in the city. Rome resisted, but finally decided to allow a campus of Université Laval to be opened in Montreal. Inaugurated on January 8, 1878, and housed in the Château Ramezay, the Montreal campus of Université Laval had very humble beginnings. Its English-speaking counterpart, McGill University, enjoyed far greater resources and operated on a much wider scale.

Montreal was therefore home to two distinct worlds, separated by language and religion: that of French-speaking Catholics and that of English-speaking Protestants. Each community had its own churches, its own school system right up to university level, its own hospitals, social services, social and cultural institutions, and newspapers. Each occupied separate areas of the city.

Quoi:

The first building erected specifically to accommodate Université Laval in Montreal, it was home to the faculties of law and medicine, the only two that counted. The faculty of theology was in the west end of the city, at the Grand séminaire.

Où:

The Université Laval's building was on St. Denis Street, south of Ste. Catherine, on the site now occupied by the Hubert Aquin Building of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). This location was in the heart of the French upper-class neighbourhood between Viger Square and St. Louis Square.

Quand:

The 1893 architectural design competition was won by the firm Perrault, Mesnard & Venne. The Université Laval building was officially opened on October 8, 1895.

Qui:

The student body at Université Laval at Montreal was exclusively male in the late 1800s. Most of the students were the sons of well-off French-Canadian families who were studying law or medicine. Their sometimes rowdy outings gave a festive atmosphere to the so-called Quartier Latin neighbourhood.

M985.230.5356
© Musée McCord
Impression
Montréal - Les inondations printanières - La crue des eaux, esquisse réalisée à Griffintown
Edward Jump
1873, 19e siècle
Encre sur papier - Photolithographie
40.5 x 27.5 cm
Don de Mr. Colin McMichael
M985.230.5356
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Between the French Catholic community and the English Protestant community stood the Irish, straddling the two camps, since most of them were Catholic but spoke English; by this time, their percentage was declining, however. The small Jewish community, which was also distinctive in terms of both language and religion, made up a separate group that would soon grow with the arrival of a first wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 1880s.

Despite these seemingly impervious ethnic and religious barriers, the groups and individuals were in constant interaction in the city -- in the workplace, in stores, in the street and other public spaces -- so that exchange was a fact of daily life. Coexistence in an urban environment is a dynamic process. Social differences enrich diversity, with each group having its upper class and its working class, its élite and its mass. At times, ethnic and religious solidarities took precedence; at others, social solidarities did so.

Quoi:

This caricature shows some of the unpleasant effects of spring flooding in a working-class Montreal neighbourhood. It also conveys a number of stereotypes about the Irish population that lived there.

Où:

Griffintown was an industrial and working-class area lying west of Old Montreal, in the Ste. Anne district. Most of the people who lived there were of Irish origin.

Quand:

In the springtime, the St. Lawrence often overflowed its banks, flooding the lower parts of the city along the river, like Griffintown. The worst flooding occurred in 1886. The flooding problem was not solved permanently until the start of the 20th century.

Qui:

In 1871 almost a quarter of Montreal's population, or 25,376 people, were of Irish origin. The Irish outnumbered both the English and the Scots combined.

Conclusion:

Late 19th-century Montreal was a complex society, a juxtaposition of distinct worlds in constant interaction. These worlds were themselves the result of many different transformations that had occurred over a half century.

Industrialization played a particularly important role in these transformations. It forged a new urban landscape and wove a new social fabric. It radically changed not only the way things were produced, but also the way things were consumed. And it exacerbated the gap between rich and poor.

Yet despite their differences, all Montrealers shared a feeling of belonging to this city, their city.


© Musée McCord Museum