Chapter 7 IntroductionHochelaga 1500-1642Ville-Marie 1642-1665French Empire 1699-1763Small French Town 1665-1760Conquered City 1760-1800British Commercial Takeover 1800-1850Industrial City 1850-1896Canada's Metropolis 1896-1914North-American City 1914-1929Depression and War 1930-1945Modern City 1945-1960Québec's Metropolis 1960-1992ConclusionQuizEducational Resources

A prominent city

The impact of

A British city with a French heartbeat

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A British city with a French heartbeat  

Around 1866, French Canadians once again constituted a majority in Montréal. Nevertheless, the city retained its British character through its institutions, architecture and the predominant role of the English language.

The influence of the Anglo-Scottish upper bourgeoisie was particularly strong. Its members accumulated huge fortunes, controlled most major Canadian firms and cultivated close relationships with Great Britain. This dominant class was represented by the highly respected Board of Trade.

A new middle class was emerging among French Canadians. Its members headed leading Montréal firms in the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries. They created new financial institutions and the Chambre de commerce du district de Montréal.

In the arena of municipal politics, the French Canadians who came to power in the 1880s implemented populist policies which were denounced as patronage by the English speaking councillors who represented the elites under a Reform Movement banner.

The Catholic clergy’s grip on the population grew stronger, and parishes multiplied, along with social and educational initiatives.

In sum, during this period, two different worlds, separated by language and religion, coexisted in Montréal. The Irish were somewhere in between, with one foot in the English-speaking community and the other in the Catholic world. The Jewish community, also distinct in its language and religion, gained strength in the 1880s with the arrival of a wave of immigrants.

Exchanges between communities were commonplace despite these divisions. At times, ethnic or religious solidarity took precedence, while at others, social solidarity prevailed.

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Wyatt Johnston
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