Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mile End - James McCready and Company


James McCready & Co. was founded in 1867 by James, Robert and Thomas McCready who were leather merchants. The company was located on rue Saint-Paul near Saint-Pierre. In 1869, James and Robert left the partnership and started separate businesses. Thomas brought his son into the business and renamed the company McCready & Son, while James founded the shoe factory of Mullarky & McCready, which settled on rue Sainte-Hélène.

In 1871, J.& R. McCready was created, a new partnership between James and Robert. In 1878, the business was renamed James McCready & Company and moved to William Street. James and Robert remained the sole owners until 1882, when Charles Francis Smith became a partner. In 1883, the company moved its offices and factory into larger premises of a building, built by Michel Laurent for the Grey Nuns on rue d’Youville, who also rented space to a grocery wholesaler, a transport company and to the Commissioners of the Port of Montreal in the same building. James McCready occupied space here for about 20 years.

James McCready & Company was considered one of Montreal’s major factories, producing 12,000 to 15,000 pairs of boots and shoes for men, women and children per week, which was considerable at the time. In 1906 Arthur Congdon, a wholesale boot and shoe merchant from Winnipeg amalgamated with the James McCready Company. He became Vice-President and General Manager of Ames, Holden, McCready Limited in 1911, and organized Congdon, Marsh Limited (wholesale boots and shoes) in 1914.

In 1915, Ames, Holden, McCready Ltd., then being Canada’s largest shoe manufacturers, received an order from the Government for footwear for officers and soldiers here in Canada and in England. Within thirty-three days they supplied 32,217 pairs of leather ankle boots and 30,000 pairs of canvas shoes, the largest quantity of footwear supplied by any manufacturer.

An article in the Montreal Gazette, Saturday, May 15, 1915 stated that ”these boots were worn by our soldiers on active service, and that they were subjected to the most severe usage. They travelled over rough roads, they waded through mud and slush, they were soaked by the never-ceasing rains of an abnormally wet English winter and, yet, THEY STOOD THE TEST”

Other tenants in this building were the Montreal Suspender and Umbrella Manufacturing Co. (from 1903 to 1955) and the Golden Gate Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of bottling machines (from 1911 to 1963). From 1963 on the building was gradually abandoned. In 1977 the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation purchased the building and undertook major renovations. The two upper floors were converted into social housing and the lower floors were rented to various organizations, including the Maison Jean Lapointe and the Musée Marc-Aurèle-

The building is located at 355-367, rue d’Youville & rue St. Pierre in Old Montreal.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Village De Lorimier - The Plateau Stampede

It's not just Calgary that has its "stampede" ... the Plateau has its own! In 1926, the race track of "Delorimier Park" hosts a rodeo worthy of the Far West.

Horse racing is still popular in Montreal, the territory of the Plateau has housed over time several racetracks. These had to relocate as the urbanization of the neighborhood progressed. 

We are here at the Montreal Driving Club Co. Ltd, which first ran its horses at the corner of Mount Royal and Boyer; to move to where Baldwin Park is today, during the years 1901 to 1907. Subsequently, the track moved further north on a lot of land bordered by Des Érables, Masson, Fullum and Mont-Royal streets. 

At the end of the thirties, the track of "Blue Bonnets" becomes very popular and our district develops very quickly. After the start of the race track, this vast area is subsequently occupied in part by a first construction trade school. Later, a new trade school is built and the southern part of the land is occupied by the Lucie-Bruneau Rehabilitation Center. As for our "stampede" featured this week, we see a race of "shopping carriages", "chuck wagons", which use a team with three horses installed in "crossbow" (two on the sides and one more in front center). These shows, which were filmed in the major North American cities, were full of urban audiences a little out of place in this reminder of the time of the great discoveries of the plains of the West. 

The track usually hosts mostly "trot and amble" races (with sulky) but also during motor racing.