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Introduction to looking for the action

How has work changed?

Where could Montréalers find work? How did they make a living? How was work changing? We have mapped the occupations of all urban and suburban household heads in 1848, 1860, 1880, and 1900. That does not account for all the jobs, since other family members and boarders worked, too.

Find the city’s butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers… or locate a particular business, workplace, or shop. You can even get personal! Track down your great-grandmother, the Mayor of Montréal, or the city’s biggest property owners. You won’t find them all, but the more questions you ask, the more possibilities and mysteries you’ll discover.


How did Montréal’s urban and suburban households make ends meet? In 90% of cases, the occupation or profession of the “man of the house” brought in the largest sum. But household income was often supplemented by second or seasonal jobs, as well as wages earned by wives, children, and boarders.

The city’s tax assessors registered householders annually, and a list of about one hundred common “occupation titles” covers 96% of household heads. The other 4% include unique titles like “Mayor of Montréal”, or descriptions like “blindman” or “beggar”. 

Since people with different occupations often lived in the same building, we have mapped occupations by street segment, with each street segment covering between 30 and 150 families. In most cases, houses on either side of the same street were home to people with similar occupations.

Information gathered from four dates (1848, 1861, 1881, and 1901) sheds light on the effects of industrialization in Montréal. Work processes changed, producers sought out new suppliers and new customers, people made novel work-related choices, qualifications changed, and the city was transformed…

Here are two ways of looking at the transformation:



For additional information or to make suggestions,
contact info@cieq.ca
Sherry Olson
  Dept. of Geography
McGill University
805 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montréal, QC, H3A 0B9
Robert C.H. Sweeny
  Dept. of History
Memorial University
of Newfoundland
St John's TN A1C 5S7
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