Book Notes

Metropolis Books

Manufacturing MontrealRobert Lewis, Manufacturing Montreal: The Making of an Industrial Landscape 1850 to 1930 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2000)

“In Manufacturing Montreal Robert Lewis provides a detailed historical geographic account of a major North American city’s industrial landscape from the beginnings of industrialization to the Great Depression. Challenging the traditional view that urban expansion due to industrial decentralization is a twentieth-century phenomenon, Lewis demonstrates that the process of industrial decentralization has been ongoing since the 1850s.

Lewis’s overall thesis is that economic and social imperatives underlying industrial capitalism periodically reshaped the manufacturing geography of Montreal, as it did in many other North American cities. Time and time again, the move of factories to the urban fringe shaped by social geography of the city by creating working-class residential neighborhoods. A particular strength of the book is its detailed examination of the role that utilities, transportation, technological change, investment, political control of land use, and labor markets had in the manufacturing of Montreal’s factor districts.”

Historians will be especially interested in the description of industries and industrial districts. Our thanks to Robert Lewis for permission to reproduce several of his maps.


Montreal Metropolis Isabelle Gournay and France Vanlaethem (editors), Montreal Metropolis 1880-1930, also published as Montréal metropole 1880-1930 (Canadian Centre of Architecture/Centre Canadien d’Architecture 1998)

Far more than a study of the city’s architecture Montreal Metropolis presents a series of essays on aspects of the city’s economic, social and cultural life which are essential reading.



Table of Contents

Forward – Phyllis Lambert

Introduction – France Vanlaethem and Isabelle Gournay

Part One: A City in Context

Montreal Metropolis – Anthony Sutcliffe

Factors in the Development of Montreal – Paul-André Linteau

An Age Rich in Miracles – Marcel Fournier and Véronique Rodriguez

Part Two: Territorial Ambitions

The Importance of Transportation Infrastructure – David B. Hanna

A Community of Communities: Suburbs in the Development of “Greater Montreal” – Walter Van Nus

Part Three: Building the Metropolis

Montreal Architects and the Challenge of Commissions – France Vanlaethem

Prestige and Professionalism: The Contribution of Americna Architects – Isabelle Gournay

Beautification versus Modernization – France Vanlaethem

Gigantism in Downtown Montreal – Isabelle Gournay

Appendices – Isabelle Gournay, France Vanlaethem, and Guy Besner.


The Promoters City

Paul-André Linteau, the Promoters’ City, Building the Industrial Town of Maisonneuve 1883-1918 (Toronto: Lorimer 1985) Originally published as Maisonneuve, ou Comment des promoteaus fabriquent une ville 1883-1918 (Montreal 1981)

The author of this outstanding study of urban development on the fringe of the city, notes in the Preface that “My goal was to understand the twofold process of industrialization and urbanization in Quebec in the early 20th Century.” Linteau’s research demonstrated that “There was a large gap between the “agriculturalism” or “ruralism” of French Canada’s official thinking and the reality of social and economic development in Quebec that was rapidly becoming an urban society.”


Montreal in EvolutionJean-Claude Marsan, Montreal in Evolution (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1981). Originally published as Montréal en evolution (Montreal 1974)

A pioneering synthesis of the development of architecture and the Montreal environment from the 17th to 20th Centuries which includes valuable illustrations. Chapter 10 offers a balanced discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s duplexes and triplexes. Chapter 11 The Victorian Legacy and Chapter 12 The Metropolis, are highly recommended.




Le Diable en VilleGermaine Lacasse, Johanne Massé and Bethsabée, Le Diable En Ville: Alexandrew Silvio et l’émergence de la modernité populaire au Québec (Montreal: University of Montreal Press, 2012)

Described as a “forgotten history” this study celebrates the authors, singers, comedians and actors who created a popular French Canadian culture in Montreal during the first decades of the 20th Century.




Yvan Lamonde (ed.), Combats Libéraux au Tournant du XXᶜ Siècle (Montreal: Fides, 1995)

Combat LiberauxA collection of essay exploring aspects of Quebec’s radical liberal tradition including articles on Laurier by Reál Belanger and Godfroy Langlois by Patrice Dutil.





Last GreatAdrian Gregory, The Last Great War British Society and the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

“What was it that the British people believed they were fighting for in 1914-1918? This compelling history of the British home front during the First World War offers an entirely new account of how British society understood and endured the war. Drawing on official archives, memoirs, diaries and letters, Adrian Gregory sheds new light on the public reaction to the war, examining the role of propaganda and rumour in fostering patriotism and hatred of the enemy. He shows the importance of the ethic of volunteerism and rhetoric of sacrifice in debates over where the burdens of war should fall as well as the influence of religious ideas on wartime culture. As the war drew to a climax and tensions about the distribution of sacrifices threatened to tear society apart, Gregory shows how victory and the processes of commemoration helped create a fiction of a society united in grief.”


Fight or PayDesmond Morton, Fight or Pay: Soldiers’ Families in the Great War (Vancouver: UBC Press 2004)

“In the collective memory of Canadians, the Great War exists as a tragedy. Characterized by the brutality of trench warfare, the First World War is remembered largely for the immense sacrifice of life and limb that Canadian soldiers made. In Fight or Pay, Desmond Morton turns to the stories of those who paid in other ways: the wives, mothers, and families left behind when soldiers went to war.”

The material on Montreal is scattered as are the references to H.B. Ames, the Montreal M.P. and social reformer who was the chief architect of the Patriotic Fund. Ames always insisted that the Fund was not a charity but Morton concludes that it “resembled one in its submissiveness to the powerful and its manipulative approach to its beneficiaries.”

War that Ended PeaceMacMillan, Margaret. The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914. (Toronto: Penguin Books 2013).

Margaret MacMillan’s The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 shares a good deal with Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War. It offers a lively and engaging account of the origins of one of the greatest wars that humankind has ever witnessed. MacMillan dramatizes the actions of specific individuals by situating their judgements in the context of international crisis. Her book is grounded on a cyclical sense of history which assumes that, human nature being what it is, events of the past will be repeated in the future. And MacMillan harbors a hope, however fragile and tempered by realism, that her history of war might not only illuminate the causes of past events, but also inform the present judgements of those who would learn from the errors of their predecessors. The course toward World War I, she tells us, was in large part charted by conscious decisions of European leaders who suffered from a “failure of imagination” and a “lack of courage” (645). To those who would look back on the past with a shrug, thinking that such slaughter was the inevitable result of abstract historical forces, she retorts: “There are always choices” (645).

Taken from a review by Nathan Crick of Texas A&M University for the Quarterly Journal of Speech (2016).


Germany's western front 1914Humphries, Mark Osborne and John Maker, editors. Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, 1914. (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013)“Its clear and readable translations of the German official history illuminate Germany’s struggle against the armies of the British and French Empires on the Western Front and provide English-language historians with a much-needed view of the German perspective of the war… [I]ts lucid introduction and thoughtful annotations provide valuable context for its many important insights into German operations. This is a book that every serious student of the First World War will want to read and return to over and over.” – Robert T. Foley, author of German Strategy and the Path to Verdun



Canada First World WarDavid Mackenzie, , editor. Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.)

Mackenzie, David – Introduction: Myth, Memory, and the Transformation of Canadian Society

Cook, Ramsay – Craig Brown’s Logical Reason.

Copp, Terry – The Military Effort, 1914-1918.

Granatstein, J.L. – Conscription in the Great War.

English, John – Political Leadership in the First World War.

Dutil, Patrice – Against Isolationism: Napoleon Belcourt, French Canada, and ‘La grand guerre’

McCalla, Douglas – The Economic Impact of the Great War.

Sangster, Joan – Mobilizing Women for War

Morton, Desmond – Supporting Soldiers’ Families: Separation Allowance, Assigned Pay, and the Unexpected

Crerar, Adam – Ontario and the Great War.

Avery, Donald – Ethnic and Class Relations in Western Canada during the First World War: A Case Study of European Immigrants and Anglo-Canadian Nativism.

Millard, Rod – The Crusade for Science: Science and Technology on the Home Front, 1914-1918.

Litt, Paul – Canada Invaded! The Great War, Mass Culture, and Canadian Cultural Nationalism.

Mackenzie, David – Eastern Approaches: Maritime Canada and Newfoundland.

MacMillan, Margaret – Canada and the Peace Settlements.

Vance, Jonathan F. – Remembering Armageddon.


no place to runCook, Tim. No Place to Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the First World War. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1999)

Historians of the First World War have often dismissed the importance of poison gas in the battles of the Western Front. No Place to Run shows that this chemical plague was a serious threat even after gas masks were introduced. By 1918, gas was used by all armies to deluge the battlefield, and those not properly instructed left themselves exposed to its horrors.

Tim Cook uses diaries, letters, reminiscences, published memoirs, and the official archival record to illustrate vividly the grim reality of gas warfare for the average trench soldier. As the first chlorine clouds rolled across the fields during the 2nd Battle at Ypres, soldiers were forced to stuff urine-soaked handkerchiefs in their mouths in order to survive. As the gas war evolved, mustard gas plagued the soldiers at the front as it lay active in mud and snow for weeks on end. There was no escape from the pervasive nature of poison gas, Entering the dugouts, it attacked men when they were least ready. In response, the Canadian Corps had to develop a disciplined anti-gas doctrine, a process that Cook describes in full.

No Place to Run provides a challenging re-examination of the function of gas warfare in the First World War, including not only its important role in delivering victory in the campaigns of 1918 but also its postwar legacy.

Embattled nationPatrice Dulil and David Mackenzie, Embattled Nation: Canada’s Wartime election of 1917 (Toronto: Dundurn, 2017).






Ecrire Sa GuerreMichel Litalien, Écrire sa Guerre: Témoignages de soldats Canadiens-Français 1914-1919 (Outremont: Athéna éditions, 2011).





Les PoilusPierre Vennat, Les ‹‹Poilus›› Québécois de 1914-1918: Histoire des militaries Canadiens-Français de la Première mondiale (Montréal: Méridien, 2000).






Douglas HaigJ. P. Harris, Douglas Haig and the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).







Broken Promises  J. L. Granastein and J. M. Hitsman, Broken Promises: A History of Conscription in Canada (Oakville: Rock’s Mills Press, 2016).






24th BattalionR. C. Fetherstonhaugh (ed.), The 24th Battalion, C.E.F., Victoria Rifles of Canada 1914-1914 (East Sussex: The Naval and Military Press Ltd., 1930)






22 BattalionJean-Pierre Gagnon, Le 22e Bataillon (Montréal: Les Presses du L’Université Laval, 1986)



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