The splendour and misery of urban life
The Montreal Water-Works.
1879, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
40.5 x 58.3 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Map (219) , Map (215)
Keys to History
Built in 1801 by a private company, the first Montreal aqueduct served the business district, that is, Place d'Armes and the surrounding area. Purchased by the municipality in 1845, it would be completely renovated in 1856 in accordance with the recommendations of a hydraulic engineer.
In 1879, the main components of the Montreal water supply system were the pumping stations, the reservoirs and the whole network of water pipes. The enlargement of the network continued until the end of the century in order to provide service for the greatest possible number of residents. Equipment was also improved, but the water supply lines were still better organized downtown.
In 1879, the Montreal water supply system produced and distributed each day a little more than 9 million gallons of water.
Located at the foot of Mount Royal at a relatively high elevation, the McTavish Reservoir permitted the nature flow of water towards the heart of the city, which was at a lower elevation.
In 1879, the Montreal water supply system had two water intake points, both located upstream from the Lachine Rapids, in the St. Lawrence River.
Until the end of the 19th century, public services, such as running water and lighting, were mostly available only to well-to-do families living in the city.