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On the corner of rue Notre-Dame and rue Berri in Montreal, Canada is the elegant, former home of Canadian politician, lawyer, and businessman George-Etienne Cartier. Cartier ( September 6, 1814 – May 20, 1873) was a significant figure in nineteenth-century Canadian politics and Canadian national development. His home, now open to the public as a museum, tells the story of the changing times during that period in Canadian history, as well as giving insight in to how he and his family lived and how they enjoyed their upper-class lifestyle.
As you walk in to the first room of the exhibit, you will be introduced to Cartier and the political reformers who worked with him as well as those who opposed him. Cartier was a member and leader of the Conservatives, a party that dominated politics in Lower Canada during the mid-nineteenth century. Known as the Bleus, they desired economic progress and colonial ties with Great Britain. Supported by the church, they rejected American republicanism. By joining forces with John Macdonald’s party, the Liberal Conservatives, the old Tories, the Clear Grits–a vehement anti-Catholic party that promoted populism at the expense of economic progress–and by rejecting the Rogues, they became a driving force for Canadian confederation. Confederation in this sense meaning the political process that united the Canadian colonies.
Continuing the tour, you will see, in the next room, how Cartier influenced and encouraged Montreal’s economic growth by securing grants for the Grand Trunk railway to be built from Portland to Montreal. Cartier, while serving in the legislature and proving himself to be a skillful politician, increased subsidies and loans to the railway, while also stalling legislation that tended to help competing rail companies. Never shy to intervene for the public good, Cartier, while serving as the Attorney General of Lower Canada, and prior to his days as a legislator, secured government grants that would improve Lower Canada’s school system.
In 1868, and following confederation, Cartier and William McDougal traveled to London to secure funding to purchase the Northwest Territories. The Hudson’s Bay Company sold the territories to the Canadian government for 1.5 million dollars.
In the living quarters of the home you can see how the Cartier family lived, and from the appearance of their possessions, they lived well. One would expect nothing less from the successful businessman that Cartier was. Their home is filled with antique furnishings that any collector would want to own.
Allow about one hour for your visit, as you will want to read all of the accompanying information that is presented with the home’s artifacts. This is a visual museum, but it is also an informative one as it offers you a chance to learn about Canadian history, and more specifically the history of the amazing city called Montreal.