In the early 20th century, Montreal enjoys one of the greatest periods of growth in its entire history. On the eve of World War I, its population has already passed the half-million mark. The city is a hive of activity, having reached the apex of its growth as the Canadian metropolis. Its big businesses take part in developing the Canadian West, where they set up numerous branch offices. They are also involved in exploiting natural resources and in the expansion of the manufacturing sector in Quebec and into Ontario. St-James Street becomes the symbol of financial power in Montreal.