The post-war period was one of unprecedented growth for Montréal’s population, territory and economy. This was an era of catching up, after the deprivations of the Depression and the war. This period was also characterized by a strong desire for modernization, expressed in a myriad of ways.
In 1951, the city boasted a population of one million, and Greater Montréal reached two million by 1961.
This increase in population could be explained by a rise in the birth rate—the Baby Boom—and a revival of immigration and the rural exodus.
There was plenty of work for all, whether in the manufacturing industry, in residential and commercial construction or in the service industry, which experienced spectacular growth.
Buying power was on the rise. Montrealers enthusiastically entered consumer society, since more of them could now afford durable goods such as refrigerators, automobiles and modern housing. The urban territory expanded, with more Island municipalities progressing rapidly. Urbanization began around the bridges on Île Jésus and on the South Shore.
The automobile played a key role in this move to suburbs further and further away from the inner city. Traffic increased and parking became difficult. The construction of the Boulevard Métropolitain and the Laurentian highway provided partial solutions to these problems.
The new suburbs led to changes in urban lifestyles, such as the emergence of shopping centres and single-family dwellings like the bungalow.
Montréal’s growth was accompanied by changes downtown. Dorchester Boulevard (now Boulevard René-Lévesque) was built, followed by Place Ville-Marie, symbol of a new era. More skyscrapers were erected on Dorchester Boulevard, which became the backbone of a new downtown core soon to replace Old Montréal as the city’s business district.
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