Traces. Places. Memories.


1900-1949: Metropolis

The city grew, absorbing new municipalities. New working-class neighbourhoods sprung up around Mount Royal. Jewish, Italian, Chinese and African American immigrants, along with many others, infused certain areas with their accents and flavours. Montréal, recovered by French speakers from the countryside, shone and dominated.

Along Rue Bridge and its traffic from the Victoria Bridge, there was a great tumult: the grinding of winches, the rolling of freight cars, the changing of transmission belts, the cargo siren, the constant whirring of the flour mills. Montréal, afraid of losing time, sped onwards.

Gabrielle Roy, Du port aux banques, 1941.

A key event

1929: The Great Depression

Largely integrated into the American economy, Montreal is hit hard by the stock market crash of October, 1929: factories, stores and small businesses close; salaries are reduced; the port sees export levels drop. By 1933, 30% of the Montréal’s population is receiving some form of financial assistance from the City. Mayor Camillien Houde puts the unemployed to work with a vast public works program that oversees the construction of the chalet on Mount Royal and the Botanical Garden, among others. Only the arrival of the Second World War, however, will lead to a real economic revival.

What’s left from this era?

Place D’Youville

Montréal in Five Eras, 1900-1949: Unions: Place D’Youville

A small river first ran across this site. It was canalized in the 1830s. A market was built in its centre, and it became the seat of Parliament from 1844 to 1849. In 1901, it was named Place D’Youville after Marguerite d’Youville, founder of the congregation of the Grey Nuns who looked after the general hospital just next to it. This was also the era in which the fire station that is now the home of the CHM was built.