Growing Up Healthy in the 20th Century
Philip Simpson Ross family group, Montreal, QC, composite, 1904
William Notman (1826-1891)
1904, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process, composite photograph
40 x 50 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Art (2774) , composite (312) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
Several generations of the Ross family can be seen in this composite photograph taken in a studio. Each of the households grouped together in the picture seems to have one or two children. Until 1870, Canadian children, especially French-Canadian children, had an average of seven or eight siblings. While some families had as many as twelve children, others had far fewer. Subsequently the birth rate in Canada and in the West in general began to decline. Quebec did, however, experience a baby boom between 1945 and 1960; although women were having fewer children on average, the fact that more women were having children pushed up the birth rate. Thus, whereas at the start of the century close to 60,000 births were recorded in the province each year, by the late 1950s this number had grown to almost 145,000. Eventually, however, the birth rate resumed its inexorable downward trend.
This is a composite photograph, which means that it consists of individual photographs that have been cut out and stuck together to make a single picture.
The scene is the living room of the home of Philip Simpson Ross, which was located at the corner of Cathcart and University streets in Montreal.
William C. Notman's photography studio produced its first large-scale composite photograph in February 1870. The picture was of a winter skating carnival attended by 150 people in costume.
Philip Simpson Ross (1859-1907) emigrated from Scotland to Montreal in 1853. The father of five sons and three daughters, he ran his own prosperous family accounting firm.