Published in the Montreal Gazette on September 21, 2013
When, in 1975, I first moved to the South Central (Centre-Sud) district of Montreal, I was struck by the number of cold water flats that still survived in the ward. Indeed, immediately behind my terrace house on St. André Street was found a series of just such home units, relics from a bygone era of our Victorian past.
Cold-water flats were just that – a working class accommodation with a one-faucet kitchen sink and a WC tucked into a corner of a room, usually the kitchen. There was neither hot water nor a bathtub in which to bathe. In fact, it was estimated, that in 1905, 75% of flats in certain blue-collar neighbourhoods of Montreal were in that very same situation.
At the insistence of a particular family, I visited one such structure in the summer of 1976. It was…
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