3.1 Montreal


December 1900, Montreal

The Old Port bustled by two kilometres of the St. Lawrence River. Heavy cargo ships lowered their wealth by crane. Containers lined the streets with smoke and brine. Longshoremen shouldered crates along the wharf to the railway tight against it. Horses and carts queued in the roads. The lucky ones travelled a mile north: past Dominion Square, Mount Royal, and to the Golden Square Mile. The rebuilding drew on those old, narrow streets of Montreal but became something much more audacious. Great trees and orchards, handsome cut stone buildings; and among them, the men who made Montreal a key producer for the Empire. Fifty men there held seventy percent of Canada’s wealth. It was a coveted trip, to those country houses and cottages, the vineyards, stables and conservatories. The main street was a Little London where F.E. Smith or Max Aitken might be seen; fond of the local hospitality, happy to tip.

Most went further than a kilometre or two, south-west to Griffintown. From Nazareth Street to the Lachine Canal were they worked, there was over-crowding and squat boxes. The immigrants stopped here: a Jewish and Irish quarter. There was plenty of work for women and children in textile plants. The men went to the sawmill, back to the docks or the train and new tram. They came back with infected facial tears and a paid roof over their heads.

Griffintown’s population over-flow went across the Lachine Canal locks to Pointe St. Charles. The streets were wider; lines branched between poles over commercial and residential.  The first electric streetcars ran past the brick duplexes, flats one on top of another. With an ear to the French and British tongues, the newly baptised Timotheus bobbed with glee. He was also deep in thought, composed for opportunity.

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.


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