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In Its Corporate Capacity: The Seminary of Montreal as a Business Institution

Since the 1660s, the Seminary of Montreal — a French, male religious community — had been an integral part of the merchant, seigneurial and clerical elite that dominated Montreal. Its significance in pre-industrial society was strengthened by its role as seigneur of Montreal Island and titular parish priest. The Seminary survived the British conquest but came under increasing attack in the early nineteenth century from industrial producers and large capitalist landlords who resented the Seminary’s seigneurial expropriations. By the 1830s, anticlerical elements in the peasantry and other popular classes had joined the attack. Emphasizing economic rather than religious history, Brian Young’s study compares the Seminary’s preindustrial forms of income to its new capitalist revenues from land sales, subdivision developments, bonds, and rentier income from office, warehousing, and urban-housing properties. Its changing income required new forms of management and the priest-manager was eventually assisted by an accountant, architect, surveyor, clerk, and several notaries and lawyers.

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