Taking to the Streets

Taking to the Streets

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The 1840s were a period of rapid growth and social conflict in Montreal. The city's public life was marked by a series of labour conflicts and bloody sectarian riots; at the same time, the ways that elites wielded power and ordinary people engaged in the political process were changing, particularly in public space. In Taking to the Streets Dan Horner examines how the urban environment became a vital and contentious political site during the tumultuous period from the end of the 1837-38 rebellions to the burning of Parliament in 1849. Employing a close reading of newspaper and judicial archives, he looks at a broad range of collective crowd experiences, including riots, labour demonstrations, religious processions, and parades. By examining how crowd events were used both to assert claims of political authority and to challenge their legitimacy, Horner charts the development of a contentious democratic political culture in British North America. Taking to the Streets is an important contribution to the political and urban history of pre-Confederation Canada and a timely reminder of how Montrealers from all walks of life have always used the streets to build community and make their voices heard.
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