In the Victorian Era, the Montreal elite fled the pollution and noise of the business district. They took refuge on the heights overlooking the city, from Dorchester Street (today Rene-Levesque) to Mount Royal. In a large area of one square mile, later called the “Golden Mile”, big villas and elegant townhouses (houses built in rows), symbolized the success and wealth of well-to-do Montrealers. It was in this mainly Anglophone, Protestant world that rich tourists and official visitors were received.

There are many photographs that take us inside those wealthy homes. We can visit the social, public spaces – the ballroom, the living room and the drawing room; the men could also retire to the smoking room, which was forbidden to the ladies. We can also venture into the more private spaces, reserved for the family and their close friends: the sitting room, the dining room, the bedrooms and the nursery, where maids took care of the young children.
Printed Documents
  • Casgrain, Thérèse. 1971. Une femme chez les hommes. Montreal : Éditions du Jour.
  • Lovell's Montreal Directory. Various years. Montreal : John Lovell.
  • Rémillard, François, and Brian Merrett. 1986. Demeures bourgeoises de Montréal: le mille carré doré, 1850-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.
  • Westley, Margaret. 1990. Grandeur et déclin : l'élite anglo-protestante de Montréal, 1900-1950. Montreal : Libre Expression.

By Joanne Burgess and Gilles Lauzon
McCord Museum of Canadian History

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

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