Home » Uncategorized » Old video footage of Québec in the 1930s, 40s & 50s (#199)

Old video footage of Québec in the 1930s, 40s & 50s (#199)

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Here is a light-hearted post.

The things you can find on YouTube never cease to amaze me – especially old footage.

Video 1:  Colour video of cruising down the St. Lawrence in 1949 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSt5Hj-XldM   

I can’t believe the changes.  In the video, we see

  • a market which looks like it could be from Medieval Europe — and my political statement keen oberservation of the day:  notice the head scarves the women were wearing — I think if more people realized that headscarves were as much a part of our everyday culture just a few decades ago as what headscarves are in other cultures today, we would not be seeing such a fiery debate about the issue in Québec’s media these days.  I think some people just need an “in-your face” reality check that ‘ole granny was one too gentle reference point as a reminder, such as this innocent video (which would make them realize there’s no big deal & big woop!). Gee, I forgot that I mentioned this was going to be a light-hearted post — I’ll smack myself for you.


  • the old traditional quilt patterns (apart from the Hudson’s Bay pattern, which we can still buy for $380 at all the Hudson Bay’s across Canada, the flower patterns have for the most part disappeared now, and would be very difficult to find),


  • people baking bread in outside stone ovens (I wonder how many generations back those ovens were built, and I wonder if a person could still find remnants of these old ovens in the countryside today)
  • people spinning thread on a wooden spinner


  • the ferries connecting Québec City with Lévis — they’re the same ones used today!  (I had no idea they were this old).  Today they have been converted to diesel, but you can see in the footage that they used to use coal – you can see  all the piles of coal of the upper deck of the ferry.  Amazing!

Qc-lv fry

  • the Union Jack (it is always seems strange for me to see the Union Jack flying in old photos or videos… even my own grandparent’s photos from the 1940s on the Prairies sometimes show the Union Jack in the background – surreal, truly).

Video 2:  Montréal by night, 1947https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uggk5tiK-G8

  • This one truly made me laugh.  At 7:27, we see a crowd of cheering people waiting for a VIP to step out of a car on to a red carpet.  I thought it was going to be a movie star or perhaps the King and Queen – But it was only the mayor of Montréal!  I’m still laughing when I try to picture Montréal’s current mayor, Denis Coderre, getting out of a car with all that primadonna drama, bling, waves & flare this guy flaunted, and his wife decked out in jewels in such style!  Hahaha!  Have times changed !!   Man, if that were to happen today, the government would immediately order a $17 million, 18-month long corruption inquiry (at least it would keep the Charbonneau Commission employees well paid for another century).


  • Soon after that, the video showed the Commerce Club of Montréal, after which the narrator said “… and Montréal is also famous for another kind of club too…” (that woke me up!) — with the screen then shifting to a ballroom dancing club (that’s not exactly what I thought the narrator meant when he said Montréal is famous for “another kind of club!”  Hahaha).  Actually, Montréal is famous for another kind of club (to be more precise, a few different type of clubs… — but that would take several blog posts to explain – so I’ll leave that for another day!!). Like I said above… my my my, have times changed!!
  • The video also showed a scene of the janitorial staff cleaning the ticker tapes off the floor of the old stock exchange (the old building is still stands in downtown Montréal).  Things were done quite differently back then.


Here are some other interesting videos:

1950 (Montréal bus tour)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Kiu2wGHMs

1950 (Lake resort, with old farming techniques)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A995jdX67JE

1930s (Gaspé, shows double mast fishing boats)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVI6OnoiHME


1938 (Gaspé)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7xDrM5wbSU

1950 (New road construction)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZVIKZXJcU0

Just as an aside, I particularly find the accent interesting in the Gaspé films from the 1930s.  I “think” it’s an “old” Gaspé accent which has changed quite a bit compared to today’s Gaspésie accents.  It’s amazing to hear a Gaspé accent with rolled “R’s” in this manner (such R’s have largely gone by the wayside these days… you can read about it in the Accent Series I wrote a few months back).  Also, the end intonation on some of the narrator’s words is now only restricted to Ontario & the Western Provinces, or to some areas of Acadia.  I’m quite surprised to hear this intonation in an old Gaspésie accent.   I find it amazing how much the accents have changed in only 80 years.  These videos are real treasure chests.


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