Industrialization and urbanization

The industrialization of Quebec brought with it another phenomenon: urbanization. In fact, more and more people were now living in cities than in the countryside. Most people moved to the city because that was where the industries were located. And that meant it was easier to find work there.

About 36% of the population lived in urban areas in 1901, compared to only 15% in 1851. Many people had therefore left the countryside to live in cities. This phenomenon is called a rural exodus. Still, the majority of people, or 64% of the population, continued to live in rural areas in 1901. By 1931—just 30 years later—60% of the population would be living in cities.

The development of Quebec’s cities

Montreal was the most popular destination. It welcomed many people from the countryside and was also the top choice of immigrants. With 267 730 inhabitants in 1901, Montreal was the largest city in Quebec and was becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. Many types of businesses were located there.

Urbanization and industrialization benefitted other towns and cities in Quebec, too. For example, the city of Shawinigan experienced significant growth due to the construction of electric dams and from the arrival of many businesses that needed lots of this electricity. Rouyn-Noranda benefitted greatly from mining in the Abitibi region. Several cities in the Outaouais and Saguenay regions benefitted from the development of the paper industry. Closer to Montreal, towns like Valleyfield benefitted from the development of the textile industry.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past: