Traces. Places. Memories.


1850-1899: Industrialization

Industry launched the city in a new way. Factories, migrants from the countryside and European immigrants came or stayed. The city began offering services, transportation became mechanic and electric, and a bridge and railroads linked Montréal to the rest of the continent. Canada’s Victorian metropolis swelled with wealth and continental ambitions.

While Québec has retained the calm and tranquil air of an old colonial capital, Montréal, a city of 200,000 inhabitants and the metropolis of French America, with its large streets at right angles, its agitation, its electrical, telegraph and telephone networks that surround it like a spiderweb, looks more like one of the new cities in the United States.

L. de la Brière, L'autre France, Paris, 1886.

A key event

1879: Electricity arrives

The first public demonstration of electric lighting in Montreal takes place on May 16, 1876, in front of a crowd of thousands on the Champ-de-Mars. During the same year, the first arc lamps are installed. Ten years later, electricity has completely replaced natural gas as the energy source for street lights. Little by little, it is used in factories; it powers streetcars by 1892; and, by the end of the 1930s, practically all of the city’s housing is “on the grid”.

What’s left from this era?

Mount Royal Park

1850-1899 : Organization: Mount Royal Park

Did you know that Mount Royal Park was designed by the landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park? The city hired Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874 to design this large green space and make it accessible to everyone. In his plans, he showcased the natural beauty of the mountain, especially with the path that bears his name today, Chemin Olmsted. From 1885 to 1918, a funicular took visitors to the top.