Life in Montreal in the 17th century

In 1665, Paul de Maisonneuve was recalled to France. This year, there were 23 houses within the town boundaries in Montreal, and 60 or so including the nearby countryside.

At the same time, the English colonies had tens of thousands of inhabitants. In 1642, the year of foundation of Montreal, around 8 thousand people already lived in Virginia, while Canada as whole had only 900 settlers.

Montreal, a mere hamlet, however, was developing at a sustained pace. Of course, there were few people in the town, but administrators, merchants, tailors, butchers, craftsmen, domestics, officers and soldiers, even an innkeeper were to be found there. And a growing number of farmers were living around the urban zone.

In the 1660ies, there were houses built of stone and houses built of wood in Montreal, as well as half-timbered houses – a type of real estate consisting of a wooden frame and a masonry filling, a marketplace and two cemeteries.

Montreal had several roads, and the Sulpician fathers focused on the structured planning of the town, in addition to establishing religious missions. A formal street grid was created in 1671. In the meantime, growing trade with the Amerindians produced social and urban changes.

Curiously enough, every family had numerous animals. It was not a rare thing to see cows, oxen, pigs, sheep, poultry or pigeons in all the courtyards. This habit of keeping animals around the house persisted for centuries despite regulations repeatedly issued by municipal authorities (even today, guests can see poultry walking in the yard around certain houses in Montreal).

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