By Dorota Kozinska

More than 400 photographs make up this fascinating book, Nadeau's gift to Montreal for its 375th anniversary feted this year. Among some seminal works, there are many unknown, or previously unpublished images in this black-and-white collection.

They date back to the beginning of photography, ending in 1976, when colour photography started taking over. More than 100 years of images by dozens of shutterbugs reveal the changing face of this city and its inhabitants.

Instantly recognizable names make up the list of photographers, from the iconic William Notman to Yousuf Karch and Gabor Szilasi, as well as celebrated artists like Henri Cartier-Bresson and John Max. Images by anonymous photographers add another dimension to the book.

To make sense of the diverse contributions, Montrealers is divided into various themes, such as culture, streets, transportation or religion.

 

Montrealers: A Story in Portraits by Jean-François Nadeau
Published by Juniper Publishing, 2016

Book cover, Place d'Armes, CONRAD POIRIER (1941), BANQ

Jean-François Nadeau, photo PIERRE OBENDRAUF, The Gazette

Young boys in street (circa 1940). PAUL-MARC AUGER / MCCORD MUSEUM

 
It must have been an exciting, if not taxing, enterprise for Nadeau to compile such a rich collection of photographs. Associate director of information for the Montreal daily Le Devoir, he admits to having his favourites, among them the image chosen for the book cover.

It echoes his intention of showing "not just the city, but the people who made the city." Titled Place d'Armes it is a casual snippet of a street scene, the image centred on a slightly out of focus, smartly dressed young woman.

"Sometimes a picture is not about capturing perfection in the details - it's the composition, the feel, the idea behind it. This photo is Montreal."

 








Griffintown (1966). ANTOINE DESILETS

Buildings slated to be demolished in Victoriatown (Goose Village) (1963). JEAN-PAUL GILL AND LUDGER L’ECUYER / CITY OF MONTREAL ARCHIVES

Union representative Huguette Plamondon with Montreal meat-packing employees (1956). BASIL ZAROV / LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA