Chapter 8 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

An explosion of

A society in transformation

Urban living

A dynamic political climate

Chapter 8 / CANADA’S METROPOLIS / An explosion of growth  Previous pageNext page

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the First World War, Montréal enjoyed one of the biggest booms in its history. The population exploded, spreading out over the territory. The city, at its peak as Canada’s metropolis, buzzed with activity.

An explosion of growth
In 1911, the city and its suburbs boasted 528,000 residents—an increase of a quarter of a million people in twenty years.

Immigration attained record levels, with Eastern European Jews, Italians, Poles, Russians and other ethnic groups joining English immigrants. The rural exodus continued. Montréal was a magnet that attracted men and women hoping for better luck and the chance to start a new life.

The overhaul of harbour facilities and the growth of the railroad accentuated Montréal’s role as a focal point for Canada’s transportation network. Banks on Rue Saint-Jacques, or St. James Street as it was known in English, continued as uncontested leaders in this development, while the ongoing concentration of corporations made the Montréal Stock Exchange ever more important. The business sector developed natural resources and expanded manufacturing in both Québec and Ontario.

The downtown core filled with office buildings. Industrial zones expanded. Tramway lines proliferated, allowing Montrealers to live further from their workplaces. The City of Montréal pursued the annexation program initiated earlier: its territory increased fivefold between 1876 and 1918.

St. Helen's Island
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