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

By Joanne Burgess and Gilles Lauzon
McCord Museum of Canadian History

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

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