The splendour and misery of urban life

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July 1st, 1869 - A Design for a Fresco in the Montreal City Hall
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1869, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
22.3 x 28.2 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , politics (general) (2228) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

While industrialization and urbanization contributed to a strong increase in the consumption of raw milk in cities and towns, this new situation also prompted serious criticism of milk quality. As early as the 1860s and 1870s, voices were raised to decry the dubious quality of milk being sold in Canadian urban areas. As time went on, the complaints became more numerous and varied. Humorous magazines, the popular press and scientific journals all tried to warn consumers of the shortcomings, even the dangers, of milk.

  • What

    This caricature seems to suggest that municipal authorities were insufficiently concerned about the quality of the milk sold in Montreal.

  • Where

    This caricature is the work of Montreal artist John Henry Walker (1831-1899). It was published in the June 25, 1869, issue of the humorous magazine Diogenes, published in Montreal from November 1868 to January 1870.

  • When

    In 1876 the City of Montreal established a Board of Health and the first health by laws were adopted.

  • Who

    The drawing is a fairly faithful representation of the way milk was distributed at the time. A large share of the market was in the hands of milkwomen who sold their wares in public markets.