Industrial Architecture of Montreal

Working-Class Neighbourhoods 

The industrial and economic expansion in the nineteenth century brought unparalleled prosperity to cities such as Montreal. Under the surface, however, these same industrial and economic forces brought with them a variety of new social problems for urban populations. Saint-Henri, Griffintown and Pointe-Saint-Charles, like other industrial/residential neighborhoods, suffered from many of these urban problems. Poor working conditions and wages, poor housing and living conditions, and child labour were just some of the realities faced by the inhabitants of these areas within Montreal.

By the latter half of the nineteenth century, health and living conditions became an ever greater concern for some of the city’s leading citizens. Sir Herbert Brown Ames (1863-1954), one of Montreal’s business and administrative leaders, was one of the few prominent city officials to voice his concern over urban living conditions for the city’s poor. In a series of articles delivered as lectures or published in the Montreal Star, Ames urged his fellow citizens to pay attention to the effects of industrialization on the city’s working class. In 1897, Ames stated:

"… Montreal should, for a time, cease discussing the slums of London, the beggars of Paris and the tenement house evils of New York and endeavor to learn something about themselves and to understand more perfectly the conditions present in their very midst." (Ames, 7)

It is often difficult to imagine the living conditions for past residents of these neighborhoods. However, it is possible to piece together what these conditions must have been like as some of the original housing remains and is still used by current inhabitants of Montreal.  We have provided, therefore, information on three industrial neighborhoods in Montreal--Saint-Henri, Griffintown, and Pointe-Saint-Charles--and a section on living conditions of these neighborhoods.

Saint-Henri   |  Griffintown  |  Pointe-Saint-Charles  |  Living Conditions  |  Sources


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