In Quebec, year-long leases for rental lodgings by law used to end in Quebec on April 30 and begin May 1.
“The annual exodus from one dwelling to another began in Montreal yesterday and will continue today and tomorrow,” said the caption on this photograph from our archives. “The above scene is typical and may be seen on any street.”
The phenomenon is familiar to anyone who has navigated the city around July 1. But more than the means of transportation have changed from the horse and cart seen in this photograph. The date on the photo is April 30, 1926. That makes perfect sense. In Quebec, year-long leases for rental lodgings by law used to end in Quebec on April 30 and begin May 1.
The practice of a common moving day dates back to the French colonial period when leases were mandated to expire May 1 to prevent tenants from being evicted by heartless landlords in the winter.
But in 1973, the provincial government abolished the law and pushed moving day to July 1, in part to prevent children being pulled out of school to help move. Since then, Quebec’s fixed moving day has not been law, but tradition.
It is a persistent one. About 80 per cent of residential leases in Quebec end on June 30, the landlord group Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec said in 2018. More than 100,000 people in Montreal moved at the end of June in 2018.
One suspects it would be small comfort to the child hauling that hamper down the stairs or the person dragging a chair across the balcony in the photo that the misery continues in the 21st century.