Place d'Armes

Left:Place d'Armes, Montréal. QC. About 1895

Right:Place d'Armes, Montréal. QC.After Notman (VIEW-3172) Taken April 20th, 2000 at 4:10 p.m.

Photographers: Left: William Notman, Right: Andrzej Maciejewski

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


Date/Time: April 20, 2000, 4:10 p.m.

Notman took many different views of this, one of the most recognizable places in Montreal. I chose this shot in particular for its wonderful composition and balance. I had many points of reference with which to line up my camera, and a stroke of luck - if Notman had taken just a few steps forward, my view would have been blocked by a new street lamp. The clock tower tells me that he took his photograph at 3:10 p.m. I took mine at 4:10 to account for daylight savings time. In my shot the clock was not working and displays the wrong time.
Date/Time: April 20, 2000, 4:10 p.m.

Notman took many different views of this, one of the most recognizable places in Montreal. I chose this shot in particular for its wonderful composition and balance. I had many points of reference with which to line up my camera, and a stroke of luck - if Notman had taken just a few steps forward, my view would have been blocked by a new street lamp. The clock tower tells me that he took his photograph at 3:10 p.m. I took mine at 4:10 to account for daylight savings time. In my shot the clock was not working and displays the wrong time.

© 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.


Place d'Armes about 1895. The New York Life Building (1887-1889), though modest in comparison with the first skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, was a sensation here, with its eight stories served by an elevator and the clock tower on top. It competed with the spires of Notre Dame and represented a new generation of office buildings that would forever change the character of the Montreal business district.

These buildings housed banks, trust companies and insurance companies, as well as the big new industrial conglomerates that were being formed, transportation, telegraph, telephone companies, and a wide variety of professional offices: lawyers, notaries, accountants, etc. Given the vital role of this district of Montreal and the influence of Montreal in Canada during this period, this concentration of skyscrapers and this amalgamation of mainly financial companies reflect in a way the scope and rapidity of the changes the city and the country experienced during the first decades of the 20th century.
Place d'Armes about 1895. The New York Life Building (1887-1889), though modest in comparison with the first skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, was a sensation here, with its eight stories served by an elevator and the clock tower on top. It competed with the spires of Notre Dame and represented a new generation of office buildings that would forever change the character of the Montreal business district.

These buildings housed banks, trust companies and insurance companies, as well as the big new industrial conglomerates that were being formed, transportation, telegraph, telephone companies, and a wide variety of professional offices: lawyers, notaries, accountants, etc. Given the vital role of this district of Montreal and the influence of Montreal in Canada during this period, this concentration of skyscrapers and this amalgamation of mainly financial companies reflect in a way the scope and rapidity of the changes the city and the country experienced during the first decades of the 20th century.
Printed Documents
  • Choko, Marc H. 1987. Les grandes places publiques de Montréal. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.
  • Forget, Madeleine. 1990. Les gratte-ciel de Montréal. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.
  • Gournay, Isabelle, and France van Laethem (ed.). 1998. Montréal Métropole : 1880-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Boréal; Canadian Centre for Architecture.
  • Nolin-Raymond, Michelle. 1997. L'édifice de la Banque de Montréal à la place d'Armes, 1845-1901. Montreal : Éditions Varia.
  • Pinard, Guy. 1987-1995. Montréal, son histoire, son architecture, vol.1. Montreal : La Presse; Éditions du Méridien.

On-Line Document
  • Old Montreal Website. [On Line]. http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca (Pages accessed in January 2002)

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

Place d'Armes from the steps of Notre Dame Church

Place d'Armes about 1890. The New York Life Insurance Company occupied one floor of its building and leased the others. On the right, the Jacques Cartier Bank, built in 1873, stands beside an office building from 1867, typical of the commercial buildings of the period. The Place d'Armes was the meeting place of pan-Canadian financial institutions, such as the Bank of Montreal, and the smaller financial networks of French Canada.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History
c. 1890
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
18 x 23 cm
VIEW-2221.1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Bank

The Bank of Montreal, founded in 1817 by Montreal merchants, was easily Canada's largest bank. By 1856 it had 26 branches across British North America; by the 1860s it was the third largest bank in North America. As the Canadian political crisis deepened, the Bank of Montreal drew increasingly closer to government. By 1863, it was acting as the fiscal agent of the Province of Canada. It was also closely identified with railways, holding the accounts of the Grand Trunk and Great Western railways.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1887
Silver salts - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
II-83294
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The heart of the metropolis.

Things are in full swing around Place d'Armes! The first office tower higher than the Church of Notre-Dame has already gone up, and many companies have moved into the neighbourhood. The offices are outfitted with modern equipment such as typewriters, and have functional work spaces. Insurance companies make up the bulk of the new arrivals. A number of chartered banks are also well situated within the area, bringing with them significant concentrations of capital and facilitating the flow of money.
The heart of the metropolis.

Things are in full swing around Place d'Armes! The first office tower higher than the Church of Notre-Dame has already gone up, and many companies have moved into the neighbourhood. The offices are outfitted with modern equipment such as typewriters, and have functional work spaces. Insurance companies make up the bulk of the new arrivals. A number of chartered banks are also well situated within the area, bringing with them significant concentrations of capital and facilitating the flow of money.

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

Typewriter

This Model No. 4 typewriter was made in 1900 by the Smith Company of Syracuse, New York.

Smith Premier Typewriter Co.
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Miss Gwyneth Bedford-Jones
c. 1895-1910
24.5 x 36.8 x 26.8 cm
M976.141
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The commercial typewriter was first advertised for sale in early 1874. Over time, the typewriter transformed the way business was conducted.

The early typewriter was not immediately successful due to slow economic conditions in North America and imperfections in the machine itself. Perhaps more significantly, people were uneasy about the idea of "mechanical writing"; it was the custom to write and receive letters, both personal and business, written in longhand.

In the 1880s, with the development of the concept of management, work became more specialized - some people prepared correspondence, others kept accounts. In this new environment, the typewriter found acceptance. Businesses were growing larger and more impersonal, and the old rules of etiquette for business letters were being ushered out.
The commercial typewriter was first advertised for sale in early 1874. Over time, the typewriter transformed the way business was conducted.

The early typewriter was not immediately successful due to slow economic conditions in North America and imperfections in the machine itself. Perhaps more significantly, people were uneasy about the idea of "mechanical writing"; it was the custom to write and receive letters, both personal and business, written in longhand.

In the 1880s, with the development of the concept of management, work became more specialized - some people prepared correspondence, others kept accounts. In this new environment, the typewriter found acceptance. Businesses were growing larger and more impersonal, and the old rules of etiquette for business letters were being ushered out.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Currency

This 25-cent shinplaster was printed on paper to counteract the effects of an abundance of American silver circulating in Canada in 1900.

McCord Museum of Canadian History
c. 1900
Paper
6 x 11.5 cm
M19563
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Until 1862, and the official adoption of the Canadian dollar, a variety of currencies were used in Canada.

French livres were widely circulated alongside British currencies such as pounds, shillings and pence, introduced after the Conquest (1759-1760). Other money circulating in Canada during this period included Nova Scotia provincial money, American gold and dollars and Spanish dollars. In addition, the Bank of Montreal and other banks printed their own money, and in 1858 the government began to issue its own bills and coins.

In 1870, the Dominion of Canada issued shinplasters such as this one, a 25-cent Dominion note. Shinplasters were intended as a temporary currency to counteract the effects of the surplus of American silver coinage circulating in Canada. Shinplasters were, however, reissued in 1900 and 1923, until finally being recalled in 1935 by the new Bank of Canada.
Until 1862, and the official adoption of the Canadian dollar, a variety of currencies were used in Canada.

French livres were widely circulated alongside British currencies such as pounds, shillings and pence, introduced after the Conquest (1759-1760). Other money circulating in Canada during this period included Nova Scotia provincial money, American gold and dollars and Spanish dollars. In addition, the Bank of Montreal and other banks printed their own money, and in 1858 the government began to issue its own bills and coins.

In 1870, the Dominion of Canada issued shinplasters such as this one, a 25-cent Dominion note. Shinplasters were intended as a temporary currency to counteract the effects of the surplus of American silver coinage circulating in Canada. Shinplasters were, however, reissued in 1900 and 1923, until finally being recalled in 1935 by the new Bank of Canada.

© 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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