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Twelfth of July, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Daily Star, 11 July 1877, page 2

Twelth of July

The responsible heads of the Orange Society have agreed to rescind the resolution on the books of the order to celebtrate the Twelfth of July by a public demonstration.  While reserving the Society the right of parading, they yield to the representations made them by a deputation of the City Council and of members of the various national and benevolent societies, and waive what they consider a right in favour of proceeding quietly and unobtrusively to Knox Church on Thursday, there to commemorate their festival.  The action taken by the Orange order is worthy of all praise.  They have listened to the voice of reason, and resolved to act as good citizens, to refrain from anything that would look like a challenge to those who oppose their existence, and to conduct their celebration, in short as becomes peacable and respectable members of a community, respecting the feelings and prejudices of their fellows of different faith or opinion. The thanks of the city are due to the Orangemen in the present instance.  By the exercise of self denial and a moderation of view they have arrived at a decision which certainly will save the city the scenes of violence and disorder which it had reason to anticipate, not at the hands of the Orangemen, but of those who opposed them, for their walking of itself would be a harmless matter.  They have chosen the better part, and for their wise and patriotic conduct they are deserving the commendable approval of the community.  They have, through their representatives at the meeting of last night, expressed a desire to live in a spirit of unity with their brethren of another creed and faith; let us hope that something beneficial will come of their amicable advances in this direction.

The conduct of the Orangemen in the present emergency contrasts more than favourable with the attitude of the Irish Catholic Union, a secret society of the class condemned by the Church.  The Orangemen gave way, not because they were afraid of the armed sections of the Union, but because of their respect for law and order, and of the rights of property.  The Union has maintained its position of menacing hostility throughout, and up to the last moment almost, Mr Devlin, who may be said to have spoken its intentions, prophesied bloodshed. He could not have spoken confidently in advance, if he did not know what the men who have been buying arms and ammunition intended to do.  If, as Mr Devlin in his speech has more than intimated, that the Irish Catholic Union is an organization bound to enforce its opinions by riot and bloodshed, and there is no such thing as getting over the full significance of his remarks, then it is a body of the most dangerously lawless character, worthy of no sympathy at the hand of any good citizen. Upon it, in the event of hostilities, on Thursday, (now rendered improbable) would have devolved all the responsibility, and upon the authorities would have fallen the necessity of extirpating it.  Such an order has no reason of existence in a community like ours, and the sooner those who are its moving spirits learn that they will not be permitted to inaugurate a reign of terrorism unchecked, the better will it be for themselves. We feel pretty sure that the honor and dignity of the Irish Catholic people require no such defence as this organization, revolver-armed, pretends to offer.

Tooth Fairy Society, 1978

I was reminded by a Facebook post of a friend of the lovely tradition of the tooth fairy, who apparently now pays $7 per tooth, that there was a time when I was a member of the Tooth Fairy Society of Canada.

The deal was that you sent in your tooth to the society and got a special gift.  I do not remember what my gift was, but I saved the membership certificate.  I only sent one tooth in though, because mercenary soul that I was I preferred the quarter the tooth fairy left me.

I wonder what they did with the teeth?

Ottawa Weather, 1867

Ottawa Citizen, 23 April 1867, page 2


The Weather- Yesterday was a regular French suicide day.  A cold drizzling rain fell at intervals, the clouds hung low, the mud became liquid under foot, and the faces of pedestrians were any other expression than the cheery, smiling reflex of laughing spring they wore the day before. No suicides occurred in the city that we are aware of, but then, Ottawa is not Paris. As it was cocktails were cocked up frequently, and whiskey slings slung “around the circle” at a lively rate. A few hard cases took too much hard weather antidote, but fortunately for their families, their friends, and the good name of the city, they kept out of the way of the police.

Commemoration Stuff – Confessions of a Collector, 2017

It is 2017 and Canadian Confederation turned 150.  There have been parties, books, television specials and commemorative things – tons of commemorative things!  As a historian I can look on these items as representative of a vision of Canadian identity, and recognize that not everyone invests in the celebration and the souvenir items the same values.  And certainly I am aware of the conflict of identity particularly evident in the celebrations of 150, as I feel some of it myself.  But the stuff, people, the stuff.  I am not immune to the draw of the commemorative item.

I was born in 1967, so I have always been drawn to 1967 stuff.  As I was not aware of the significance of the events in that year, so I started to collect items from ’67 a lot later on.

As you can see from the above I have a rather eclectic collection of things – two pins, a Blue Mountain mug, a souvenir brochure and a bunch of the coins taken from circulation.  Of course 1967 was also Expo ’67, and I went there with my parents, in my pram, as a very wee babe.  I don’t remember it, but it was apparently quite wonderful.  Mom and Dad saved the souvenir programme, which I still have.  And, over the years I have added things from Expo to my collection of commemorative stuff (aided and abetted by the fact that I worked at Value Village for a year).

commemorative stuff (5)So what is the attraction?  I guess it is a way to reinforce the fact that the year I was born in was special.  It was special because I was born that year, but it had that extra something – something.  And so having things which speak to that special-ness is important to me.

Fast forward to Canada 125 – and of course my twenty-fifth birthday.  That year I decided to celebrate my birthday with a party with the theme of the “Silver Anniversary” of my birth, and Canada had another party in Ottawa, and the Queen was there.  All good, in my mind.  I was becoming politically aware by this time, and so I was more realistic about what I was celebrating.  I didn’t get many items commemorating the anniversary, but I do remember that I felt I should get something, and the Canadian government actually had a way for you to order official souvenir items.  So I bought some stuff. I also had a pin which was not so official…..

A rather modest haul, but there weren’t that many items actually available in that year.  I don’t think that people were as keen to celebrate, or didn’t recognise the number as being particularly special.  And I was (and still am actually) rather cheap about things so I wasn’t go to be extravagant anyway.

It is now Canada 150 and really this year, the number of items you can purchase is almost obscene.  Really, I am a bit flummoxed by the quantity and variety of items available.  There are a lot of items that have been produced that perhaps are tacky, some which are expensive, some which are both, but then there are also the vanilla items, which I am strangely drawn to.  And those are the ones I have bought.  I have acquired a few pins and the commemorative coins put out by the Canadian mint.  I am not sure why there is a glow in the dark coin in the mint’s collection, but okay.


There is this impulse, I think for people, like myself, who collect things.  Events such as anniversaries are marker moments which we need to physically hold onto.  I have bought things that commemorate Canada 150 in order to remember the significance of the event.  I think that it is a special moment to remember and I am proud to be Canadian (To be  clear though, I am also realistic about Canada, and well aware that there are things that are not praiseworthy). It is also my 50th year.  And it is something that I am both happy and rather freaked out about at the same time.  So these things mark the passage of personal time, and of place and memory.

So I confess, I have commemorative items.  A fair number if taken altogether.  I think I have some pretty neat stuff, and there it is.  I understand not everyone is going to understand my fascination for commemorative Canadian things, and I am alright about that.  I have invested in them a personal history which stands both apart and a part of the event which they commemorate.


Caledonian Society’s Picnic, Montreal, 1871

Montreal Gazette, 3 July 1871, page 2.


The sixteenth grand annual gathering of the Caledonian Society took place in Decker Park, at Mile End. At an early hour in the morning the St Lawrence Main street cars began to fill up, and from the broad Highland brogue of many of the passenger and the irrepressible Glasgow and Edingburgh twangs of others, it was not difficult to divine that all had the common object of reaching the scene of the gathering in view.  The grounds had been carefully provided with the swings for the young people; and a platform for the more elderly youngsters, who preferred to keep time to merry music with pattering feet and palpitating hearts, had been erected, and was a favourite resort.  Shaded spots were also in great demand, for the sun by noonday had come out, as he usually does at this season of the year, very strong.  As usual at pic-nics, there were old people and young people, people with baskets prepared with a forethought and variety contents, in the first instance highly creditable, and in the next highly gratifying and satisfactory when the inner man began to assert his wants.  There was a fair sprinkling of bonnie lasses, guarded by blooming and matronly dames, who were not slow to see by the tell-tale deepening of the color of the cheek who was the favored one who came to demand the hand for the next dance and who had long ago secured the heart. The gathering by two o’clock in the afternoon had increased to a large number, and, as usual, was composed of the most respectable classes of the community. The games were the chief object of attraction, and although there were not as many contestants as on previous occasions, they were the most keenly contested by those present. Robert Fraser, from Glengarry, famous as the man who took fourteen prizes in New York in one day, was invincible, and carried off the first prize for everything he entered for. One of the most interesting features of the games was the struggles of the boys divided into classes of fifteen years and under and twelve years and under, for honors. The little fellows ran, leaped and jumped with desperate determination and energy, and as three prizes were awarded for most of the prizes contended for, a fair share of their number succeeded in obtaining a reward for something or another. The clever performances of Master John McRobie, son of Guardian McRobie, of No 2 Fire Station, were particularly noticed; in almost all the games he entered for in the juvenile class, under twelve, he succeeded in carrying off the first prize.  His hop-step-and-jump of twenty feet for a youngster of eleven years of age, is a capital performance.  The games of quoits began at ten, and the others at eleven o’clock.  The following gentlemen acted as judges: Lieutenant Colonel Isaacson, Messrs Alexander McGibbon and Stanley C Bagg. The President and officers of the Society were indefatigable in their exertions to make everybody comfortable and to add to the success of the occasion. A [illegible] the games came to a conclusion and soon after the assembly dispersed, much pleased at the manner in which they had spent the day. The following is a list of the prizes and successful competitors.


Quoits – [illegible] entries – Mr W McRobie 1st prize, silver quoit medal – D Wright, 2nd do, cash $3

Grand Dame Brod Match 4 entries – Mr Andrew White, gold medal

Throwing hammers – 27 lbs and 14 lbs, 2 entries – Mr Peter Fraser, heavy – 28 feet light [illegible] feet; 1st prize, $4; Geo Anderson, heavy 48 ft 4 in, light 73 ft 4 in 2nd priz $3

Putting heavy stone 23 lbs 3 entries- P Fraser 53 ft 8 in, 1st prize, $4; Geo Anderson 35 ft 1 in 2nd prize, $3.

Putting light stone 16 lbs, 2 entries – P Fraser 38 ft 1 in 1st prize $4, Geo Anderson 35 ft 5 in 2nd prize $3

Running hop step and leap, 3 entries – P Fraser 29 ft 4 in, 1st prize $3; McDobie 37 ft 3 in, 2nd prize $2.

Running hop step and leap, juvenile class under 15 years of age, 11 entries – Robert McGillie 32 feet, 1st prize, Scott’s poems; Adam Allan 29 feet 5 inches,, 2nd prize; kilt, W Taylor 28 feet 5 inches, 3rd prize bonnet.

Running hop step and leap class under 10 years of age, 7 entries – John McRobie 24 feet 4 inches, 1st prize kilt, George Baille 23 feet 4 inches, 2nd prize, sporran; Thomas Watson 22 feet 2 inches, rd prize hose.

Tossing the Caber, 4 entries – Peter Fraser 29 feet 8 inches, 1st prize, $4, Inglis 32 feet 2nd prize $3.

Running High Leap – 4 entries – Peter Fraser, 5 feet 1st prize $3; McDonald 5 feet 2 inches 2nd prize $2.

Running high leap, juvenile class, under fifteen years of age, 13 entries – W Martin 3 feet 8 inches, 1st prize Burns Poems; W Taylor 3 feet 6 inches, 2nd prize, plaid; D Neilson, 3 feet 5 inches, 3rd prize, hose.

Running Long leap, 5 entries – P Fraser 17 feet 2 inches, 1st prize $3, M Newall 17 feet 1 inch 2nd prize $2.

Do, Juvenile class, under 12 years 3 entries – John McRobie – 19 feet 4 inches, 1st prize sporran; Geo Baillie 10 feet 4 inches 2nd prize, bonnet; Jas McRobie 5 feet 2 inches, 3rd do, hose.

Pole leap, 4 entries – P Fraser, 9 feet 1st prize $4; J Fletcher 8 feet 2nd prize $3.

Pole leap, juvenile class under 15 years – 13 entries – Howler 5 feet 6 inches 1st prize Tartan Bible; C Harvey 5 feet 2nd prize, bonnet ant thistle; W Martin 4 feet 10 inches , 3rd prize hose.

Do, class under 12 years, 6 entries  – Geo Martin 4 feet 6 inches, 1st prize, kilt; Geo Baillie 4 feet 4 inches, 2nd prize, sporran; Jno McRobie 4 feet 3 inches, 3rd prize, hose.

Highland fling in costume – 2 entries- D McIntyre, silver medal.

Ghillie Callum in costume – W Connel, silver medal.

Shetland Pony race, ½ mile, 3 entries – RD McGibbon, riding whip.

Handle sack race – 4 entries – G Ross, 1st prize, $3; J Huneman, 2nd do.

Best dressed boys in Highland costume, 6 entries, President’s prize – John Fraser 1st prize, box collars; 1st Vice President Jas A Murray, 2nd do, Scott’s Poems; 2nd Vice President David Allan, 3rd do, pair rabbits.

One mile race, Indians included, 6 entries – M Newall, 5 min 18 sec, 1st prize $5; J Anderson 5 mins 20 sec, 2nd prize $3.

Shetland pony race, half mile, heats best 2 in 3, 4 entries – RW McGibbon, Donrobin riding whip.

Race for junior class under 15 years, 19 entries – C McAlman 1st prize, Campbell’s poems; Taylor 2nd do, bonnet and thistle; Andrew Allan rd do, hose.

Same under 12 years, 3 entries – DA Campbell, 1st prize plaid; W McGibbon 2nd do, bonnet; Geo Baillie 3d do, hose.

Wheel Barrow race, 3 entries – H McKenzie, 1st prize $2; F Minty 2d do, $1.

Silver medal to the boy taking the largest number of prizes, Geo Baillie.

Cartier Centenary Fair, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 2 August 1919, page 33


The Cartier Centenary Fair

The Cartier Centenary Fair which is to be held in this city from August 9th to 17th inclusive on a 12 acre portion of Fletcher’s Field, is of great importance to all of the citizens of Montreal from a commercial and advertising standpoint.

The foremost aim of the promoters of the Cartier Centenary fair is to raise the required sum of money that is necessary to complete the approaches of the Cartier Memorial, which has been erected by the people of Canada to commemorate the memory of Sir George Etienne Cartier.

Canadian history contains the records of many men who have done much for the Dominion, but no man mentioned in those historical chronicles who was more steadfast in his ideals for his native land, than Cartier.

It was at St Antoine on the Richelieu river on September 6th, 1814, that Cartier first saw the light of day.  He did not enter public life until 1848 when he was thirty-four years of age, but the subsequent twenty-five years of his life he devoted entirely to the public welfare of the Dominion, and was active in the affairs of this nation as minister of militia and defence at the time of his death in London, England, in 1873.

Cartier was one of the fathers of Confederation, and during his career succeeded in having many important laws passed.

Confederation originally consisted only of four provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It was Cartier’s desire to see Canada established as a united country stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  With the maritime as well as land power of the east and west connected by a great transcontinental railway system.

In a letter to Cartier complimenting him on his achievement, Lord Dufferin wrote as follows:

“The distinction you have won has not been merely personal, for your name is incorporated with the most eventful and most glorious epoch of your country’s history, commencing as it does with your entrance into political life, and culminating in that consolidation of the provinces to which your genius, courage and ability so materially contributed.”

Largely through the efforts of Cartier, the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were secured from the Hudson Bay Company on very advantageous terms and added to the Dominion.  Finally in 1871 Cartier succeeded in passing a bill in Parliament which made British Columbia  the only remaining province needed to round out the link, a portion of the Dominion.

With the admission of British Columbia, Cartier’s dream of a united Canada from sea to sea became a reality. But a trans-continental railway was necessary to bind the provinces closely together. Cartier was the strongest advocate of this immense undertaking and to him belongs the glory of having secured in 1872 the first charter for the Canadian Pacific Railway.  This was the last great triumph of his career.

The first Canadian line of ships that plyed the seas was also another invaluable adjunct to commerce established by Cartier for the Dominion.

From 1861 to 1872, Cartier was one of the representatives of Montreal, first in the parliament of United Canada, and later in the House of Commons.  He represented during a portion of that period, Montreal-East in the Quebec Legislature under the system of dual representation which existed for some time after the establishment of the Confederation.

The interests of Montreal were always dear to the heart of Cartier and throughout his public career he strove to promote greater welfare and development for this city.

One concrete example of this was his promotion of the Grand Trunk Railway which has done much for the development of Eastern Canada and of Montreal in particular.

It is particularly fitting that the celebration, which was to have taken place originally in 1914, should be given at this time, because Cartier took advantage of every public utterance to impress upon his fellow countrymen the necessity of loyalty to Great Britain.

In a speech delivered in London, England, in 1869 he stated the following: “Canadians know, that if they wish to become really great they have only to continue their union with the Mother Country so as to share in her power, her prestige and glory.” What could have been a more prophetic warning than this?

The future too, when Canadians share with Great Britain in the power and prestige, of peace, will prove to the citizens of the Dominion that they owe undying gratitude to the memory of the great patriot of the early days, Sir George Etienne Cartier.

Miss Hortense Cartier, daughter of this illustrious statesman, who is shortly to be guest of the Dominon, is expected to arrive on the SS La France on August 9th the opening day of the celebration that is given in memory of her father.

A day, the date of which has not yet been decided upon is to be set aside in honor Miss Cartier.

No expense was spared in the erection of the magnificent fair grounds, which have been laid out in avenues that are named after the famous heads of the five allied nations.  King George, President Poincare, President Wilson, King Victor Emmanuel, King Albert.

Moorish design has been followed in the construction of the five score buildings which will contain the various exhibits of leading manufacturers.

While the first object of the Cartier Centenary Fair is to secure money for the completion of the Memorial it is also hoped that the exhibition will demonstrate the advantage of our annual exhibition for the city of Montreal.

A project of this sort would be of inestimable value to the city from an advertising angle, a fact the citizens of Montreal should bear in mind. As a yearly attraction of this nature would be of untold benefit to the whole population.

Business, big business in the future for Montreal is the fundamental principle of the Cartier Centenary Fair but amusement of the highest order, also forms a portion of the exhibition.

Nothing has been spared in the constructing of an enchanting white city with many thousands of twinkling lights for the enjoyment of the people of Montreal.  Likewise with the entertainment features, they are the best that can be procured from the wide selection that is offered by New York, Chicago and New Orleans.

The Midway

A huge midway, which will contain every sort of laughter-provoking device that ingenious minds can create is one of the leading features.  There will be booths along its wide avenues and where refreshments can be procured, two bands with well-known able directors will render the best music and a dancing pavilion has been erected.  In fact, nothing that can possibly add to the pleasure of a visitor has been omitted.

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Fireworks, Montreal, 1880

Montreal Gazette 23 September 1880 page 2

Canada Day fireworks 2017 (8)The Pyrotechnic Display The display of fireworks on Dominion Square last night excelled in grandeur anything yet seen in Montreal and was witnessed by an immense concourse of spectators. It were bootless to describe at length the beauties of pyrotechnical art which were shewn, their glories, so evanescent are now a thing of the past, and all who saw them can only regret that fireworks even though things of beauty, are not joys forever. The rockets were especially fine, and made grand scents, nor were the set pieces inferior; the whole display, in fact, was one of marked excellence. The music of the band, the moving throng of people and the ever changing aspect of the scene made up a tout ensemble of a most brilliant nature, which will long linger in the memory of those who were fortunate enough to witness it.

Halloween, Montreal, 1869

Montreal Gazette 30 October 1869, page 3


The Grand Annual Festival of the Caledonian Society will be held in the Theatre Royal on Saturday Evening, October 30, 1869.

The Committee have much pleasure in announcing that they have secured the services of the following distinguished talent:

Mrs JW Weston

Of the celebrated Boston Quintette club;

Mrs John F Kedslie (by request) late of Edinburgh (first appearance in Montreal)

Professor Andrews

Mr PN Lamothe

Mr AJ Boucher

Mr Hurst

Mr Nevin

And by the kind permission of Col Lord Russell and Officers , the magnificent Orchestral Band of the P CO Rifle Brigade, under the direction of Mr Miller.

Tickets – Body of Theatre 25c; Family Circle, 50c; Dress Circle 35c; Boxes $4; – may be procured from A McGibson and Riddle & Co, St James Street; W McGibbon, C Alexander & Son, Murray & Co, Notre Dame Street; Allan Bonaventure Street, and at the door on Saturday night.

Scots cartoon, Montreal, 1912

Montreal Daily Star, 8 May 1912, page 7



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