St. Catherine Street

Left:Corner of St. Catherine and Stanley Streets looking east, Montreal, QC. 1915

Right: St. Catherine Street looking east from Stanley Street, Montreal, QC. After Notman (VIEW-15468). Taken the 25 January 2000 at 12:00 p.m.

Photographers: Left: William Notman, Right: Andrzej Maciejewski
McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Date/Time: January 25, 2000, 12:00 p.m.

My vantage point for this photograph was the southwest corner of St. Catherine and Stanley Streets on an overcast winter day. A tall building on the left and the fourth building on the right have not changed, thus they were perfect reference points for lining up my camera. Although many of the businesses have changed, the commercial character of this street-corner has not. Signs in the top left corner of Notman's photograph are still visible in mine, and provide visual clues to this continuity. Even in 1915 people were rushing by, mostly ignoring the camera.
Date/Time: January 25, 2000, 12:00 p.m.

My vantage point for this photograph was the southwest corner of St. Catherine and Stanley Streets on an overcast winter day. A tall building on the left and the fourth building on the right have not changed, thus they were perfect reference points for lining up my camera. Although many of the businesses have changed, the commercial character of this street-corner has not. Signs in the top left corner of Notman's photograph are still visible in mine, and provide visual clues to this continuity. Even in 1915 people were rushing by, mostly ignoring the camera.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Map

This Map of Montreal depicts the location where the photographs by Notman and Maciejewski were taken.

McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


St. Catherine West was the big commercial street in Montreal at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the heart of downtown of the metropolis of Canada. The street ran through the "Golden Mile," where the wealthiest Montrealers lived. St. Catherine was the street of the department stores - Morgan's, Simpson's, Goodwins - and luxury shops, such as Birks Jewelers.

But in a city that was profoundly polarized along social and linguistic lines, it was not the only downtown frequented by members of the elite and British or American tourists passing through the city. There was also a Francophone downtown - the one in the east end, on St. Catherine Street around St. Denis Street - with the Dupuis Frères store and various department stores, cinemas, and big pharmacies. Every Montreal neighbourhood also had its main street, with its retail businesses, its movie theatres, its restaurants, and its small specialized shops. These streets were the centres of urban life, and were often marked by the presence of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy.
St. Catherine West was the big commercial street in Montreal at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the heart of downtown of the metropolis of Canada. The street ran through the "Golden Mile," where the wealthiest Montrealers lived. St. Catherine was the street of the department stores - Morgan's, Simpson's, Goodwins - and luxury shops, such as Birks Jewelers.

But in a city that was profoundly polarized along social and linguistic lines, it was not the only downtown frequented by members of the elite and British or American tourists passing through the city. There was also a Francophone downtown - the one in the east end, on St. Catherine Street around St. Denis Street - with the Dupuis Frères store and various department stores, cinemas, and big pharmacies. Every Montreal neighbourhood also had its main street, with its retail businesses, its movie theatres, its restaurants, and its small specialized shops. These streets were the centres of urban life, and were often marked by the presence of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy.
Printed Documents
  • Bourassa, André-G., and Jean-Marc Larue. 1993. Les nuits de la « Main » : Cent ans de spectacles sur le boulevard Saint-Laurent (1891-1991). Montreal : VLB.
  • Comeau, Michèle. 1995. « Les grands magasins de la rue Ste-Catherine à Montréal : Des lieux de modernisation, de hiérarchisation et de différentiation des modes de consommation ». Revue d'histoire de la culture matérielle, no 41 (Spring), p. 58-68.
  • Ferretti, Lucia. 1992. Entre voisins. La société paroissiale en milieu urbain : Saint-Pierre-Apôtre de Montréal, 1848-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Boréal.
  • Gournay, Isabelle, et France van Laethem (dir. publ.). 1998. Montréal Métropole : 1880-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Boréal; Canadian Centre for Architecture

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

St. Catherine Street east from St.

Here we are on the corner of St. Catherine at the corner of St. Denis Street in 1910, the heart of downtown Francophone Montreal and a big commercial street at the beginning of the 20th century. Thanks to the tramway, it was easy for the Francophone population to get there from throughout the city and the suburbs.

Anonymous
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
c. 1910
Ink on paper mounted on card - Halftone
16 x 21 cm
MP-0000.893.3
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Good enough to eat!

Strollers along rue Sainte-Catherine can't pull their eyes away from the elegant windows of the large stores. For within those walls there is something for everyone: it is there that the housewife discovers the washing machine of her dreams, and the society lady runs her fingers over the smooth leather of a pair of gloves imported from France. There, too, the whole family exults in its purchase of a gramophone. Meanwhile, the mail order system enables even those who cannot actually visit the stores to purchase their products.
Good enough to eat!

Strollers along rue Sainte-Catherine can't pull their eyes away from the elegant windows of the large stores. For within those walls there is something for everyone: it is there that the housewife discovers the washing machine of her dreams, and the society lady runs her fingers over the smooth leather of a pair of gloves imported from France. There, too, the whole family exults in its purchase of a gramophone. Meanwhile, the mail order system enables even those who cannot actually visit the stores to purchase their products.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Henry Morgan's Store

The Colonial House was a really luxurious building: its interior was designed to encourage shopping while providing customers with a feeling of comfort.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1917
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
VIEW-16835
� 2010, RCIP-CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


his luxurious building was erected in 1891 on St Catherine Street to house the Henry Morgan & Co. department store .

Established in 1850, Henry Morgan & Co. has long been viewed as a leader among Montreal's major stores, especially because it was constantly experimenting with new ways to do retail business. In 1872, for instance, Morgan's was the first department store in Montreal to display wares in its windows, and in 1874 became the first store in Canada to set up a division by departments .

In 1891, Henry Morgan & Co. was also the first major store to move up to St Catherine Street, from its St James Street location. Several Montreal businessmen considered the move at first to be a catastrophic decision, as well as an objectionable invasion of what was then an elegant residential district . But many businesses were soon to make a similar relocation and St Catherine Street became at the beginning of the XXth century the city's most important commercial thoroughfare. .
his luxurious building was erected in 1891 on St Catherine Street to house the Henry Morgan & Co. department store .

Established in 1850, Henry Morgan & Co. has long been viewed as a leader among Montreal's major stores, especially because it was constantly experimenting with new ways to do retail business. In 1872, for instance, Morgan's was the first department store in Montreal to display wares in its windows, and in 1874 became the first store in Canada to set up a division by departments .

In 1891, Henry Morgan & Co. was also the first major store to move up to St Catherine Street, from its St James Street location. Several Montreal businessmen considered the move at first to be a catastrophic decision, as well as an objectionable invasion of what was then an elegant residential district . But many businesses were soon to make a similar relocation and St Catherine Street became at the beginning of the XXth century the city's most important commercial thoroughfare. .

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

W. H. Scroggie Limited

This 120-page catalogue, which has a few colour illustrations, is the spring-summer 1908 edition from the W.H. Scroggie store.

McCord Museum of Canadian History
c. 1908
Coloured ink on paper
25 x 20 cm
M2001X.1.3.1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


First appearing at the end of the 19th century, mail-order catalogues were made possible by improvements in printing and advertising techniques, and greater reliability of mail distribution services. Customers had already accepted the principle of single-price selling, payable in cash, which had replaced the system of barter, and merchants had begun to publish lists of their products with the retail prices in order to reach customers living outside the big cities. The first Canadian to have a mail-order catalogue printed - in fact, a small booklet with only a few black-and-white illustrations - was Timothy Eaton. Published in 1884, this catalogue revolutionized the retail market in Canada. Other merchants, such as W.H. Scroggie in Montreal, rushed to follow his example.

The catalogues were usually published twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. To make ordering easier, each catalogue included instructions, order forms and envelops. In Quebec, this system quickly grew popular in rural areas, since the department stores offered merchandise that was much more diverse and up-to-date than the main stores in small municipalities.
First appearing at the end of the 19th century, mail-order catalogues were made possible by improvements in printing and advertising techniques, and greater reliability of mail distribution services. Customers had already accepted the principle of single-price selling, payable in cash, which had replaced the system of barter, and merchants had begun to publish lists of their products with the retail prices in order to reach customers living outside the big cities. The first Canadian to have a mail-order catalogue printed - in fact, a small booklet with only a few black-and-white illustrations - was Timothy Eaton. Published in 1884, this catalogue revolutionized the retail market in Canada. Other merchants, such as W.H. Scroggie in Montreal, rushed to follow his example.

The catalogues were usually published twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. To make ordering easier, each catalogue included instructions, order forms and envelops. In Quebec, this system quickly grew popular in rural areas, since the department stores offered merchandise that was much more diverse and up-to-date than the main stores in small municipalities.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify the changes that were operated within Canadian society over two decades (territory, population, economy, etc.);
  • Describe in details changes that he/she is able to observe;
  • Explain and speculate about the reasons that could justify these changes;
  • Make connections between the differences and similarities of the two eras.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans