The steady growth Montréal had been experiencing since the end of the 19th century was curbed by the First World War, heralding the beginning of hard times to come. However, the 1920s brought a return of growth, and Montréal now resembled other large North-American cities.
The First World War
An economic recession could be felt as early as 1913. The situation was exacerbated by the outbreak of war, as Great Britain stopped financial support to its colonies in order to devote all its resources to the war effort.
The economy began to recover in 1915. Manufacturers benefitted from generous war contracts. The jobs left vacant by thousands of enlisted men created opportunities for others, including a growing number of women.
One political consequence of the war was a heightening of the conflict between English-speaking Montrealers, who favoured full participation in the war, and their French-speaking counterparts, who opposed it. In 1914, populist politician Médéric Martin exploited this opposition in his campaign for Mayor, and the French-speaking masses gave him an overwhelming victory.
The federal government’s decision to impose the draft in 1917 provoked strong reactions in French-speaking circles.
All things considered, however, many young Montrealers perished on the battlefield or came home wounded, or injured by toxic gases.