The River Barons: Montreal businessmen and the growth of industry and transportation 1837–53
Published: December 1977© 1977
324 Pages, 6.01 x 9.02 x 0.05 in
The River Barons charts the development of the business community in Montreal through the crucial years between 1837 and 1853, when the small commercial fraternity of the 1830s, responding to the challenge of a transportation revolution, grew much more complex and diversified. This period saw the beginning of the railway age in Canada, and the rapid extension of lines out from Montreal ensured the city’s economic expansion. This was also the area when large new plants, concentrated near the Lachine Canal, a newly available source of hydraulic power, suddenly intruded upon the original network of small workshops scattered about the city.
Professor Tulchinsky focuses on the entrepreneurs. He describes the business the community’s branches and groupings, its ethnic makeup – French and English, Scottish and American – and the reasons for its success. He explains how the city’s merchants, professionals, and politicians embraced, utilized, and came themselves to be transformed by innovations in transportation and the possibilities for large-scale industrial development. And he devotes special attention to the Montreal businessmen themselves, their objectives and aspirations, their attitudes and ideas.
In this excursion into business and urban history, Professor Tulchinsky amplifies from a modern perspective the pioneering work of Creighton, Tucker, and Cooper.