Remembrances of Grandeur by Margaret Westley
Finalist for The QSPELL Prize for Non-Fiction in 1991
This is the intimate story of a community and its time. The scene is Montreal and the characters are the people who were leaders in making it the commercial capital of Canada for nearly a hundred years. If this group of entrepreneurs was rather small – by varying estimates fifty to 150 Montrealers owned, in the 1890s, one to two thirds of the wealth of the nation – their influence was exceptionally powerful. Among these people feature legendary names: Sir Hugh Allan, Peter McGill, the Molsons, George Stephens, Richard Angus… They built a neighbourhood of mansions set in spacious grounds on the slopes of Mount Royal and there, in the “Square Mile” they lived what seems to us a fairytale existence. Margaret Westley brings it back to life in a unique way: her research includes the confidances of 110 descendants of these entrepreneurs who agreed to share their memories with her. We follow this elite through the great events which shaped our century, and see the transformation of this privileged society.
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