Children on bench in garden, 254 Olivier Ave., Westmount, QC, 1913
Alfred Walter Roper
1913, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
10 x 12 cm
Gift of Mr. Vennor Roper
© McCord Museum
Keywords: outdoor (47) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
The early years of the 20th century were the high point of a period of industrialization and urbanization that would continue into the 1920s. Many families left rural areas to settle in Canada's big cities. They came hoping to find work in the large factories that had sprung up. In 1901 the Island of Montreal already had a population of over 345,000. There were sharp differences in income between social groups in the newly industrialized metropolis, however. The upper middle class had its own neighbourhoods, many of them on the slopes of Mount Royal, whereas working-class families tended to live near the factories, in housing that was often less than salubrious. The living conditions of children thus varied considerably from one neighbourhood to the next.
This photograph is from the album of the Roper family, of Westmount. Alfred Walter Roper captured the daily life of his family, first in Cobourg, Ontario, where he was born, and later in Montreal, where he settled.
In the early years of the 20th century, Westmount, the Golden Square Mile and Outremont were three of the neighbourhoods on Mount Royal where better-off families tended to live. In the east end of the city, St. Louis Square was known as a upper middle-class area.
In 1913 Montreal and its suburbs had a population of half a million. By the 1930s over a million people lived in the city and its surrounding area, accounting for over 60% of Quebec's urban population.
Besides being a bank manager, Alfred Walter Roper (1869-1955) was also an amateur photographer, taking pictures of street scenes, buildings and landscapes in Montreal, Quebec City and the Eastern Townships, as well as of family life. Mr. Roper's son donated the family's photograph collection to the McCord Museum.