Arriving in the wake of the army, a handful of English, Scottish and American merchants took charge of the economy. Their arrogance towards the Canadiens sparked tensions.
Canadien elites, religious authorities in particular, displayed official loyalty towards the British Crown. In 1774, Britain passed the Québec Act, proclaiming religious freedom and use of French civil law in the province.
Maintaining the Catholic Church’s role in society was a key element of continuity. The Sulpician Seminary retained control of Notre-Dame parish, and female religious orders were allowed to pursue their charitable works. However, the Jesuits and the Récollets were forbidden by the government from recruiting new members.
On the surface, Montréal remained a French city. As a minority, the British were obliged to adapt to the existing urban society and speak French in their daily interactions with townspeople. The British upper classes built stone houses according to Montréal’s architectural style
. Most craftsmen and day labourers, who were almost entirely of French origin, lived in the more populous faubourgs. The faubourgs would later be integrated into the city, in 1792.
Thus, towards the end of the 18th century, with regards to its physical layout and social structure, Montréal maintained the characteristics of a small, pre-industrial town, whose dominant economic activity was still the fur trade. However, important changes were beginning to take place.
Fortifications of Montréal
Prison of Montréal