Unlike the working class, the bourgeoisie—or middle class—profited greatly by the country’s prosperity in the early 20th century. Depending on whether they belonged to the lower, middle or upper middle class, members of this group could expect to make a sizeable fortune. Another difference between the middle class and the working class was the role of women. The wives of middle class men did not work. At that time, the majority of men believed that a woman’s place was in the home. Middle class women were often very involved in charitable activities. And, at home, they had servants to help them.

The upper middle class was truly Canada’s ruling class. This was a relatively small group concentrated in Montreal, which was the financial and economic centre of Canada in the early 20th century. Middle class families lived in large homes near Mount Royal. They were of English or Scottish origins, although there were also a few French Canadians in this group. The upper middle class had interests across Canada, not only in Quebec or Montreal. These men were involved in large transport companies or major banks such as the Bank of Montreal. In fact, they were often involved in several companies. These men were also active in politics, either at the federal or provincial level.

The middle class was more linked to a region. As a result, this group was not only found in Montreal. The ethnicity of its members was also more diverse: mainly English and Scottish, but there were also many Irish and French Canadians. They were also less wealthy. These men tended to be industrialists in sectors like printing, footwear and clothing. Others were real estate developers and food or store retailers.

The lower middle class was mostly made up of members of professional occupations (lawyers, notaries, doctors, etc.), as well as small entrepreneurs and local merchants. This group was mainly involved at the parish or neighbourhood level, in the town council, or even in school boards.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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