The oldest Montreal study of relative poverty

In 1897, Herbet Brown Ames published the first known studies of poverty in Canada. The study looked at the present day Griffintown neighborhood of Montreal. In addition to chapters on composition of family, homes, rental market, density and crowding, religions and deathrates, Ames conducted an analysis of income poverty. His work bears some resemblance to the later developed low income lines we study today.

We have already learned that there are 7671 families resident within ‘the city below the hill’. As near as can be ascertained these families receive, each week, an aggregate amount of not less than eight-five thousand dollars. This means eleven dollars per week to each family. We have also found that these families include 37,652 persons. This gives, on average, an allowance of two dollars and a quarter per week to each individual. Eleven dollars per family, two and a quarter dollars per individual, these then are the standards of average living in ‘the city below the hill’. (p. 32.)

Ames, H. B. (1897). The city below the hill: A sociological study of a portion of the city of Montreal, Canada. Bishop Engraving and Printing.
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