Montreal, Tuesday, June 5, 2020.- The Écomusée du fier monde reopens its doors on Sunday, June 7 to once again present Pushing Back at Fate: Poverty, Families and Institutions, an exhibition that explores the history of confinement as a form of intervention most common among the poor and destitute.

The history of working-class Montreal neighbourhoods has been marked by numerous charitable institutions since the mid-19th century. The buildings erected by these charities are now part of our architectural heritage. The exhibition Pushing Back at Fate : Poverty, Families and Institutions invites you to look beyond institutional walls—to bring to light the people who were considered at the time to be destitute, ill, insane, dependent, deviant, delinquent, or incapable. Discover these little-known stories with the help of images of archives, documents, and artifacts. The exhibition is on display from September 12, 2019 to February 9, 2020 at the Écomusée du fier monde.

File d’attente à la porte de l’œuvre de la soupe à l’Asile de la Providence. Vers 1930.
Archives Providence, Montréal

From Charity to Social Rights
Since the mid-19th century—with the onset of the industrial revolution—a significant number of working-class families find themselves living precariously. Before the First World War, public authorities only intervened to take responsibility for the mentally unfit destitute and for prison inmates. While many diverse charities exist at this time, they offer last resort assistance that falls under private benefactors or religious institutions.


Over the course of the 20th century, public authorities invest in social policies such as unemployment insurance, family benefits, hospital insurance, and health insurance, in large part due to pressure from secular and religious reform groups, as well as from citizens. It is the emergence of social rights, and the organizations that defend them. The preservation of these rights aims to ensure the dignity and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of society.

This exhibition is an opportunity to understand the realities of multiple institutions, many of which are in the Centre-Sud: Pied-du-Courant Prison, the Institut du Bon Pasteur, the crèche d’Youville orphanage, Notre-Dame Hospital, the Meurling Refuge shelter, and many others. It presents the struggles and the journey that have “pushed back at fate”.

History and community museum
The Écomusée du fier monde is a history museum that promotes grassroots involvement. You are invited to explore little known facets of Montréal culture. Discover the daily life of the working class and follow the inspiring journeys of grassroots groups. Visit the Écomusée exhibitions and the former Généreux public bath, a magnificent example of 1920s architecture.

Écomusée du fier monde
2050 Atateken Street
Corner Ontario
Berri-UQAM Metro Station

Opening Hours
Wednesday: 11 am to 8 pm
Thursday/Friday: 9:30 am to 4 pm
Saturday/Sunday: 10:30 am to 5 pm
July and August: Thursday/Friday: 9:30 am to 5 pm

Admission Fees
Adult: $12
Student/senior/child over 6: $6
Family (2 adults, 3 children): $18

Information: 514 528-8444 |

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For more information, photographs and interviews:

Florentine Duchange | 514 528-8444 |
Source: Écomusée du fier monde