The industrial revolution favoured the expansion of foundries. To meet needs and beat the competition, the foundries adopted new work methods, such as piecework and division of tasks.

The Clendinning foundry was in one of the first industrial and working-class neighbourhoods in Montreal, Griffintown. The population of this neighbourhood, not far from downtown, was mainly of Irish origin. Workers who could, lived close to their places of work.

After its enlargement, in 1872, this foundry became one of the biggest in Montreal with its 180 workers, of which 17% were less than 16 years old. In fact, the division of tasks permitted the company to hire unskilled workers to do simple tasks. Close to his workers, W. Clendinning was nevertheless demanding. In March 1872, he opposed a movement to reduce the workday from ten to nine hours.
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