Going Together like a Horse and Carriage: Rentier Marriages and Property Accumulation in Montréal, 1825-1903. New Proposed Paper

Robert C. H. Sweeny, Université du Québec à Montreal & Memorial University of Newfoundland

The long-term nature of rentier accumulation strategies render them almost invariably familial, as they require mobilizing multiple generations in the management and accumulation of property. Choosing a marriage partner was perhaps the single most important variable ensuring success. Preliminary analysis of the marriages within the 120 leading rentier families in Montreal in 1903 demonstrated the gendered nature of these choices: rentiers tended to marry for social reproduction, while rentières more frequently married for social promotion. Using the exceptional research infrastructure of Montréal, l’avenir du passé, this paper examines how important marriage was in the multi-generational, accumulation strategies of property owners in the city. Working from complete property ownership records for 1825, 1848, 1880 and 1903, linked to census and marriage records, this paper evaluates the relative significance of marriage to those families who succeeded in building large portfolios over the century and, equally importantly, to those families who once owned significant real estate holdings but were unable to pass them on.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 6. Love and Marriage? Material Considerations and Couple Formation in the Past