[ Harold Redpath and family in Georgeville ]

Unknown, Redpath Sugar Museum, Harold Redpath, J. Clifford Redpath’s brother, pictured here with his wife Alice Watson and children Betty and John, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

In 1901, the Redpaths belonged to an English-speaking elite that lived in Montreal’s wealthy Square Mile, an intimate and closed community of its own making. Families patronized the same educational, religious, and social institutions and their children intermarried. The families of the Square Mile shopped at stores and accessed professional services – medical, dental, legal, and accounting – provided by those of comparable ethnic and class background. The heads of these households, the so-called merchant princes and captains of industry, created business partnerships and sat on each other’s boards of directors. Families provided valuable assistance in business, encouraging fathers, brothers, uncles, and in-laws to work together. Sons and sons-in-law worked in their fathers’ businesses, and had ready access to capital so that they could establish their own enterprises.

Blood ties were extremely significant. Family bonds worked through the rituals of god-parenting and marriage, supplying family members economic and emotional support. Marriage strategies ensured that Square Mile families controlled their wealth, power, and status and restricted access to the elite. Family members also helped each other in difficult economic circumstances and in instances of illness or death. Unlike today, relatives lived close to each other, died at home in the presence of family members rather than in hospital, and were buried in ancestral plots.