Working Class Culture and The Development of Hull, Quebec, 1800-1929 (on CD)


Cat No.:   CA0415:  (See also product CA0415DL for this "book" as a downloadable file and save the mailing cost.)

Michael Martin, the author of this amazing book has worked in the Ottawa - Hull area for most of his life working as a journalist, author, and public servant, but his real passion has been “History” and, as a writer, what else could he do but write a book about the history of the area where he lived. But Michael had no intention of writing one of your conventional “overview” histories, populated by, and predicated on, the pronouncements and actions of the few individuals who history normally casts as the “Voice of the Past.”

No, Michael finds his history in the actions, statistics, and the rarely recorded voices of “Joe. Everyman,” the Worker, the Logger, the Tradesman, the Union Organizer, and to an extent the “Boss,” who employed these workers, but was kept too busy by his business to join the ranks of the “Statesman,” the ones the French language so nicely describe as the “petite-bourgeoisie.”

So, a major part of what puts this book beyond any conventional history you have ever read, is that it is the working man’s story of Canada’s entry into the “Industrial Revolution.” The revolution that was brought on by the invention of a few vital technical innovations, such as the steam engine, the railway, and the mechanized factory. Innovations never even dreamed of by the ordinary worker who, nevertheless, had to find a way to keep himself and his family, sheltered and fed in this dynamic and radically different environment. For most physical workers this was a shift from an agrarian life, where the basics of life were often available close at hand for those willing to expend the hours and energy to get them, to a place where food and shelter had to be earned in service to one of the new and strange factories, where agricultural skills counted for nothing and the workers quality of life depended almost exclusively on the whims and opinions of “The Boss.”

Michael has chosen the recently renamed city of Gatineau as the primary setting of his examination of this tumultuous history, although he calls it Hull, the name it carried throughout the period of this history. Not only are the earliest agrarian roots of this city (and its sister city of Ottawa across the river) well known but it was also, in its time, a thriving centre of the timber trade. A trade which was a large contributor to Canada’s climb out of the roll of an offshore “farm” or “plantation” (and source of exotic “furs”) to that of a self governing trading nation with a World supply of valuable resources. Thus it was an important centre of Canada’s earliest experiences in “mass production” which also had close and intimate contact with those bodies set up to administer and govern Canada’s growth. In fact a “hot spot” in Canada’s industrial development.

Clearly this is a complicated history to tell and yet Michael manages to break it down into manageable and acceptable segments, identifying and explaining all the infinite detail which accompanies such a complex story while never loosing sight of his primary aim of telling the story from the view of the working man. At one point, Michael reproduces a rare 1872 directory of the occupations of the people of Hull, from the “top bosses” down to the “labourers” which provides an interesting complete profile of the city’s population.

As the story moves along Michael details the logging of the vast watershed which empties down the Ottawa river, and explains how the nature of the logging business changes to include the processing of some of the basic lumber into finished and partially processed product, thus providing added value to the lumber trade. For both geographic and geopolitical reasons a lot of this value added processing took place in the Ottawa Hull region, introducing the industrial “factory” sites to the area with all the consequences of labour exploitation, heavy-handed political influence, the growth of labour community and representation organizations, and the cultural conflict such developments so often create.

And then admixed with all this social and political activity come the pseudo-random “natural” events such as the Great Fire of Ottawa / Hull, Influenza and small-pox epidemics and other semi-independent social issues such as female suffrage. Suddenly Hull, has developed from a simple agrarian based village to a modern, mechanized city, with a complex social structure, seemingly endless rules and regulations and stressful living conditions. In other words it has acquired all the “benefits” of modern civilization.

Yes, a challenging agenda indeed! But one Michael Martin has mastered, and has encapsulated for us, in this fascinating book.

The original manuscript of this book was generated in the time honored style of a printed document so you will find its presentation and layout fairly familiar. In this digital edition, however we have overlaid this traditional layout with many of the conveniences and shortcuts enabled by the digital format. The use of color coding in titling is perhaps the most obvious. There is a conventional Table of Contents in the introductory pages where the hierarchy of color coding is shown and those same colors will be found throughout. Color has also been used in tables and diagrams for easier understanding.

This book is richly augmented with citations of quoted passages and of information sources. The footnote identifiers are also color coded for ease of identification, as are the actual footnotes. They are also bilaterally hyperlinked so moving the focus of attention from text to footnote and back again becomes trouble free and instantaneous. Some of the illustration credits also provide outside links to their originating sources but these are, of course, only available if you have a connection to the internet.

The page numbers in the Table of Contents and those in the Index of Illustrations are hyperlinked to the page bearing the information, and at the bottom of every page are links to return to the Table of Contents or the Index of Illustrations.

The book has been saved in the Portable Document Format (PDF) for maximum cross platform compatibility with (most) e-Readers to virtually all desktop computers, including most forms of portable machines such as tablets and mobile smart phones. As a digital edition, of course, the whole of the text of the book can be accessed through the “Search and/or Find” features of the browser application, providing instantaneous access to the location of each occurrence of the search term. Not all PDF compatible platforms offer the same features however so while the file also includes a set of “bookmarks” emulating the table of contents this function may not be available on your choice of browser.

We have placed a sampler of some selected pages from this book on our Quebec Downloads page so you can experience what the book's content looks like.

No. of CDs is:  1 ;   Format is:  PDF ;   Searchable?:  YES;

FastFind:  No;  ISBN No.:   978-1-927503-45-4 ;