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.