Print "Le Marché Bonsecours la veille de Noël", 1870
1870, 19th century
Ink on paper
40.1 x 55.5 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Genre (188) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
While the frenzy of consumption before Christmas is nothing new, this phenomenon was particularly palpable in the public markets of Montreal at the end of the 19th century.
In the towns and cities, preparations for the holidays began around mid-December. People had to buy all the food products necessary to prepare all the different dishes that would be served at meals characterized by abundance and variety. During this time of celebration, every family, rich or poor, strived, according to their own means, to fill their tables with the most appetizing dishes.
Merchants took advantage of the holiday season to offer for sale during the weeks before Christmas a wide variety of imported products and fresh fruits.
This illustration on the Christmas theme appeared on two full pages in the weekly "L'Opinion publique". Collectors used these illustrations as decorations.
The merchants at the Bonsecours Market reserved and leased their sales spaces according to an auction system. The stalls on St. Paul Street were the most coveted and the most expensive.
Just like today, consumer did most of their shopping from December 21 to 24.
The caption provides these details: "You have to see all those housewives, all those respectable family men, lawyers, doctors, merchants [...] going, baskets under their arms, to prepare the Christmas feast."