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Peopling the North American City Montreal, 1840-1900 by Sherry H. Olson, Patricia Thornton

Peopling the North American City Montreal, 1840-1900


Part of the Carleton Library Series Series


Peopling the North American City Montreal, 1840-1900 by Sherry H. Olson, Patricia Thornton

Benefiting from Montreal's remarkable archival records, Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton use an ingenious sampling of twelve surnames to track the comings and goings, births, deaths, and marriages of the city's inhabitants. The book demonstrates the importance of individual decisions by outlining the circumstances in which people decided where to move, when to marry, and what work to do. Integrating social and spatial analysis, the authors provide insights into the relationships among the city's three cultural communities, show how inequalities of voice, purchasing power, and access to real property were maintained, and provide first-hand evidence of the impact of city living and poverty on families, health, and futures. The findings challenge presumptions about the cultural assimilation of migrants as well as our understanding of urban life in nineteenth-century North America. The culmination of twenty-five years of work, Peopling the North American City is an illuminating look at the humanity of cities and the elements that determine whether their citizens will thrive or merely survive.


Voici donc un livre important, imposant avec ses 500 pages et plus, illustre abondamment avec de magnifiques photographies et gravures de l'epoque, ecrit dans un anglais a la fois elegant, precis et colore, et qui temoigne amplement de la grande generosi The authors cannot reconstruct conversations, but they still want us to remember that there were 'long evenings of discussions, fits of indignation, tears of rage, volleys of profanity, and peals of laughter.
These instincts for life in the city make Peopling the North American City an exceptionally good book. John C. Weaver, McMaster University

A first class addition to North American historical demography, with an ambition to reach a much broader audience. Olson and Thornton are experienced, informed researchers, and their scholarship is exemplary. Gordon Darroch, York University

About the Author

Sherry Olson is a professor emerita in the Department of Geography at McGill University. Patricia Thornton is a professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia University.

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Book Info

Publication date

22nd June 2011


Sherry H. Olson, Patricia Thornton

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McGill-Queen's University Press


544 pages


Social & cultural history
History of the Americas
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Population & demography



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