View of the Montreal Harbour

Left:View of the harbour, Montreal, QC. 1884

Right:Montreal Harbour. Looking est from the Archeological Museum. After Notman (VIEW-1332) Taken July 30th 2000 at 1:30 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: July 30, 2000, 1:30 p.m.

In my opinion, this is one of the best of Notman's photographs selected for the project - balanced, elegant and moody. It was taken from the balcony of a building that no longer stands, so I was forced to take mine from the balcony of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, which has since been built on the same spot. Ideally I would have liked to set my camera lower and further to the left, but this was impossible. Nonetheless, the light in the two photographs is exactly the same, and they both capture people going about their daily business.
Date/Time: July 30, 2000, 1:30 p.m.

In my opinion, this is one of the best of Notman's photographs selected for the project - balanced, elegant and moody. It was taken from the balcony of a building that no longer stands, so I was forced to take mine from the balcony of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, which has since been built on the same spot. Ideally I would have liked to set my camera lower and further to the left, but this was impossible. Nonetheless, the light in the two photographs is exactly the same, and they both capture people going about their daily business.

© 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.


In 1884, the port was a source of pride for all Montrealers. Thirty years of private and public investment had brought about substantial improvements in the infrastructure. The port then had a spectacular increase in cargo traffic and arrivals of immigrants and travellers.

The cycle of the seasons and the rhythm of port life fascinated Montrealers and drew them to the harbourfront. In the summer, the spectacle was at its best. The tall ships coming from the West Indies and the Maritime Provinces rubbed shoulders with the transatlantic steamships and the more modest ships leaving for the Ottawa and the Richelieu Rivers. Strollers and tourists could observe the stevedores and carters working on the wharfs, while farmers from the neighbouring parishes, loaded down with eggs, butter and fresh vegetables, hurried to the market stalls. The voices of sailors, shop assistants, merchants and foremen mixed with the creaking of the axles of freight wagons and the whinnying of horses.
In 1884, the port was a source of pride for all Montrealers. Thirty years of private and public investment had brought about substantial improvements in the infrastructure. The port then had a spectacular increase in cargo traffic and arrivals of immigrants and travellers.

The cycle of the seasons and the rhythm of port life fascinated Montrealers and drew them to the harbourfront. In the summer, the spectacle was at its best. The tall ships coming from the West Indies and the Maritime Provinces rubbed shoulders with the transatlantic steamships and the more modest ships leaving for the Ottawa and the Richelieu Rivers. Strollers and tourists could observe the stevedores and carters working on the wharfs, while farmers from the neighbouring parishes, loaded down with eggs, butter and fresh vegetables, hurried to the market stalls. The voices of sailors, shop assistants, merchants and foremen mixed with the creaking of the axles of freight wagons and the whinnying of horses.
Printed Documents
  • Brouillard, Pierre. 1976. « Le développement du port de Montréal ». M.A. Thesis (History), Montreal, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Heap, Margaret. 1977. « La grève des charretiers à Montréal, 1864 ». Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française, vol. 31, no. 3 (December), p. 371-395.
  • Linteau, Paul-André. 2000. Histoire de Montréal depuis la Confédération. Montreal : Éditions du Boréal.

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

View of the harbour

By the close of the 1880s, cameras had become lighter and easier to handle, but there were as yet very few amateur photographers. The Notman studio therefore catered to the diverse needs of many clients, which included producing souvenir images to send to friends. The photographs were sold by the unit and clients could consult large albums to make their selection. The subjects ranged widely and included urban scenes, landscapes, railways and domestic activities.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.

Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
VIEW-1332-D1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Unloading S.S. "Durham City"

The port was very much a man's world. Thousands of men earned their living there as sailors, stevedores and carters. The work was hard, and often dangerous and even violent.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1896
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
II-116749-D1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The busy port.

Loaded with coal, a steamship from the Maritimes ploughs a path between ships of every shape and size. In the holds of these boats and along the docks are piles of barrels containing merchandise from Canadian provinces and foreign countries. Refrigerator ships carry exotic fruits, like bananas, which now count among the products arriving by sea. Dredging, port construction and the opening of the Lachine Canal made Montreal the main entry point for ships on the Saint Lawrence River. The port was a busy place where workers of every stripe plied their trades.
The busy port.

Loaded with coal, a steamship from the Maritimes ploughs a path between ships of every shape and size. In the holds of these boats and along the docks are piles of barrels containing merchandise from Canadian provinces and foreign countries. Refrigerator ships carry exotic fruits, like bananas, which now count among the products arriving by sea. Dredging, port construction and the opening of the Lachine Canal made Montreal the main entry point for ships on the Saint Lawrence River. The port was a busy place where workers of every stripe plied their trades.

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

Montreal: The Strike of Labourers in the Port

This double-page illustration was published in the Montreal weekly L'Opinion Publique. The newspapers dwelt on the sensational aspects of the strikes.

Anonymous
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
c. 1877
Ink on paper - Photolithography
27 x 39.5 cm
M979.87.5000
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The economic crisis of 1874-1879, which affected all classes of society, was characterized by increased unemployment and by decreased wages, from 25 to 60% according to occupations.

Since the port of Montreal was closed in the winter, large numbers of workers were hired as day labourers and found themselves out of work part of the year. Concerned about the precarious nature of their jobs, these unskilled workers were mainly demanding stable wages, paid at regular intervals and in cash. The violence of these conflicts sometimes required the intervention of the forces of law and order, but the stevedores were often able to get the upper hand in these struggles by finding strength in numbers and group solidarity.

In general, the worsening of working conditions in expanding sectors such as transportation and communications led to many spontaneous strikes, which were usually not very organized. The fight to improve working conditions led to the creation of the first labour unions.
The economic crisis of 1874-1879, which affected all classes of society, was characterized by increased unemployment and by decreased wages, from 25 to 60% according to occupations.

Since the port of Montreal was closed in the winter, large numbers of workers were hired as day labourers and found themselves out of work part of the year. Concerned about the precarious nature of their jobs, these unskilled workers were mainly demanding stable wages, paid at regular intervals and in cash. The violence of these conflicts sometimes required the intervention of the forces of law and order, but the stevedores were often able to get the upper hand in these struggles by finding strength in numbers and group solidarity.

In general, the worsening of working conditions in expanding sectors such as transportation and communications led to many spontaneous strikes, which were usually not very organized. The fight to improve working conditions led to the creation of the first labour unions.
References
  • Histoire du mouvement ouvrier au Québec (1825-1976) (s.l., éditions CSN-CEQ, 1979), pp. 36-37.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Lachine Canal

This view shows the first lock of the canal. The port of Montreal can be seen in the background.



This anonymous painting has been attributed to the artist James Duncan (1806-1881) because of its style. Born in Ireland, Duncan immigrated to Canada in 1830, and settled in Montreal.

James Duncan (1806-1881)
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Dr. Daniel Lowe
c. 1850
Watercolour and graphite on paper; Lithography
19.4 x 29.3 cm
M984.273
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


This scene dates from about 1850, when the Lachine Canal was the first link in a series of canals connecting Montreal and Lake Superior.

Previously, the Lachine Rapids had stopped ships from going further upstream. The canal construction project, which was initiated by the merchants of the city before being taken over by the government, was completed in 1825. Almost 14 km long, the canal was originally designed for small flat-bottomed sailing ships, but many modifications were made in the 19th century in order to accommodate bigger and bigger vessels.

These major construction projects permitted Montreal to supplant the port of Quebec City as the main entry port to the St. Lawrence. The metropolis, which would now accommodate large ocean-going ships, became an essential port of call for inland navigation.
This scene dates from about 1850, when the Lachine Canal was the first link in a series of canals connecting Montreal and Lake Superior.

Previously, the Lachine Rapids had stopped ships from going further upstream. The canal construction project, which was initiated by the merchants of the city before being taken over by the government, was completed in 1825. Almost 14 km long, the canal was originally designed for small flat-bottomed sailing ships, but many modifications were made in the 19th century in order to accommodate bigger and bigger vessels.

These major construction projects permitted Montreal to supplant the port of Quebec City as the main entry port to the St. Lawrence. The metropolis, which would now accommodate large ocean-going ships, became an essential port of call for inland navigation.

© 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.

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