Peopling the North American City: Montreal 1840-1900 (2011)

In a previous post I’ve highlighted several books from the Toronto Public Library that I’ve borrowed after viewing a 1993 documentary entitled The Rise and Fall of English Montreal (1993).

Graeme Decarie, at that time a History professor at Concordia University, discusses the history of anglophones in Quebec, in NFB film, "The Rise and Fall of the English in Montreal (1993)."

Graeme Decarie, History professor at Concordia University, discusses the history of Anglophones in Quebec in The Rise and Fall of the English in Montreal (1993).

Another book about Montreal history that I’ve written a recent Comment about, and that I want to highlight in a separate post, is entitled: Peopling the North American City: Montreal 1840-1900 (2011).

I enjoy this book because among other things it talks about the lives of everyday people.

Generalizations related to economic, political, and social trends are of interest, and have their place – as do descriptions of everyday life – and death, and overviews of the individual choices that people make in the course of their day-to-day lives.

Health epidemiology

Chapter 4, “The Hazards of City Living,” in Peopling the North American City: Montreal 1840-1900 (2011), is particularly instructive, and evocative.

By way of example, research based on archival records indicates that the age of weaning had a significant impact on infant mortality rates in nineteenth-century Montreal.

That is, cultural differences related to breast-feeding practices gave rise to differential rates of infant mortality in the three major communities (French Canadian, Irish Catholic, and Protestant) that comprised the majority of the population.

The study notes (p. 106) that “Public health agents today argue that child-saving interventions require alteration of a sociocultural system.

The chapter prompts me to think about the ongoing relevance of health epidemiology even now, with regard for example to what research continues to discover concerning the deleterious effects of sugar over-consumption.

Culmination of twenty-five years of work

A blurb for the book reads:

Benefiting from Montreal’s remarkable archival records, Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton use an ingenious sampling of twelve surnames to track the comings and goings, births, deaths, and marriages of the city’s inhabitants. The book demonstrates the importance of individual decisions by outlining the circumstances in which people decided where to move, when to marry, and what work to do. Integrating social and spatial analysis, the authors provide insights into the relationships among the city’s three cultural communities, show how inequalities of voice, purchasing power, and access to real property were maintained, and provide first-hand evidence of the impact of city living and poverty on families, health, and futures. The findings challenge presumptions about the cultural “assimilation” of migrants as well as our understanding of urban life in nineteenth-century North America. The culmination of twenty-five years of work, Peopling the North American City is an illuminating look at the humanity of cities and the elements that determine whether their citizens will thrive or merely survive.

[End of text]

The book notes (p. 362) that “Before Expo ’67, Mayor Jean Drapeau ordered the removal of 350 families and demolition of the centuries-old [Goose Village] neighbourhood, whose nickname recalled the geese of the march.”

Given my strong interest in the lives of everyday people as a subject of historical inquiry, I am highly impressed with this detailed, evidence-based resource. It’s a great piece of work!

Information about sugar that was kept from us in the 1960s

I like to read stories that tell us things we did not know, at the time, about what was going on in the 1960s.

By way of a recent example, a Sept. 13, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Sugar industry paid scientists for favourable research, documents reveal: Harvard study in 1960s cast doubt on sugar’s role in heart disease, pointing finger at fat.”

Click here for previous posts about sugar >

Public relations

The selling of sugar is also addressed in a previous post entitled:

Backstories related to public relations in the United States and China

Two backstories related to public relations

An excerpt from the above-noted post reads:

Backstory No. 1: Public relations

A backstory related to [Luigi] Tomba’s research is provided by Evan Osnos at an interview entitled: A ‘New Yorker’ Writer’s Take On China’s ‘Age Of Ambition’

An excerpt reads:

“And what they said was, we need to become much more sophisticated about how we conduct what’s known as Chinese as thought work. And so they began to study the masters, really. They began to study the United States and the origins of public relations culture. So they went back and they actually – if you look in the textbooks for Chinese propaganda officials today, some of the things that they cite are the success of Coca-Cola. They say, if you can sell sugar water in effect to people, well, then we can sell anything at all.

“They also looked very admiringly at the way that the Bush administration dealt with the press in the run-up to the war in Iraq. They think this is an example of a successful relationship with the press. They also look at the way that Tony Blair’s government in Britain handled the media around the issue of mad cow disease. And so there’s been this real effort to study what’s been done in the West and to take from it the best attributes – or at least the most efficient and effective attributes of the free-market public relations industry.”

[End of excerpt]

Backstory No. 2: Soft drinks

The reference to Coca-Cola and public relations brings to mind a previous post:

World Health Organization recommends that no more than 5 percent of your caloric intake – that is, 25 grams – should come from sugar

I have written in previous posts about the relation between sugar and health.

Also of relevance with regard to public relations: The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (1998)

A Jan. 6, 2015 CBC article, is entitled: “Taxing sugary drinks could help cut consumption, researchers say.”

A Jan. 17, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Sweet nightmares: a guide to cutting down on sugar: Sugar is making us fatter and sicker. Yet we still don’t realise how much we’re eating. As the government considers imposing a tax, we look at how to cut down without missing out. Plus: alternative recipes.”

A March 5, 2016 CBC article is entitled; A Canada’s Food Guide should seek inspiration from Brazil: researcher: New Senate obesity report suggests introducing a sugar tax in Canada.”


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *