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Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments



Queen’s Birthday, Montreal, 1844

Montreal Gazette, 25 May 1844, page 2

Yesterday, being Her Majesty’s birthday, the whole of the military in this garrison, consisting of the Royal Artillery, and the 89th and 93rd Regiments were reviewed on the Old Race Course. The weather was rather unfavourable; but a large concourse of citizens attended, though several, like ourselves, were disappointed, in consequence of the troops having left the ground sooner than was expected.  As we mentioned before, the public offices and and [sic] banks were closed, and all the ships in the harbour were decked out with flags in honour of the day.

Presentation to Elizabeth Ogden, Three Rivers, 1871

Montreal Gazette, 20 April 1871, page 3


A deputation from the congregation and choir of St James Church, Three Rivers, waited on Miss Ogden on Saturday evening last, to present her with, a testimonial in consideration of her long, efficient and arduous services as organist and conductress of the choir.

The testimonial consisted of a valuable gold watch bearing the following inscription:



By the Congregation and Choir of

St James Church

Three Rivers, Easter of 1871

The congregation are much indebted to Miss Torrance and Miss C Jones for their assistance in carrying out their views in relation to the testimonial.

The following address was read by the Rector:


We appear before you as a deputation on behalf of the congregation and choir of St James’ Church.  They have been long solicitous to pay you a tribute of respect for your meritorious services in having so cheerfully and so constantly, (often in the midst of great discouragements) from a love of the work, and to assist the congregation in the inspiring services of the sanctuary.

From the great interest you have always taken in the welfare of the church of which you are a member, we feel assured you have been in some measure paid by the success which has attended your efforts; for there are few churches out of the larger cities that have so well organized a choir; and the Psalmody so properly rendered, which may be attributed to your fostering care, and the unceasing interest you have taken in it.

Appreciating these privileges, enjoying these advantages, we are pleased to have this opportunity of presenting you with this testimony of our good will and appreciation; at the same time we cannot but regret that it is inadequate to your merits. We hope, however, it will be a means, if possible, of strengthening that bond of union which has united us so long one to another as members of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church.

J Torrance,

Rec or on behalf of the congregation.


I accept with sincere gratification the valuable and elegant testimonial presented by you on behalf of St James’ Church.

To conduct the Psalmody of our solemn worship, I have ever esteemed a great privilege, yet cannot too highly prize the warm and generous expressions of appreciation emanating from those with whom I have been associated in the Sacred Services of our Holy Church.

Cheered and animated by such kind encouragement for the better performance of my responsible duties and with reiterated thanks, I remain,

Respectfully and faithfully yours,


Three Rivers, April 15, 1871.

Historic Plaque at Rasco’s Hotel, Montreal – Missing


In 1985 the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal was celebrating its 150th anniversary.  In honour of its anniversary and to commemorate its history in Old Montreal the society placed a historic plaque on the corner of the building which was Rasco’s Hotel, 281-295 rue St-Paul.

The plaque says this: [English portion]

The St Andrew’s Society of Montreal was founded in February 1835 to give aid to fellow Scots in distress.  The founding and subsequent regular meetings were held in Rasco’s Hotel.  It was in this building that the first St Andrew’s Day celebrations sponsored by the Society took place on November 30, 1835, under the chairmanship of the Society’s first president, the Hon Peter McGill, who later became Mayor of Montreal.

I was wandering around the streets of Old Montreal yesterday and went to my favourite haunts including Hotel Rasco.  And surprise – the plaque had been removed.



As archivist for the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal I was surprised.  You would imagine that the removal of our plaque would have been preceded by a phone call or email.  We are rather easy to find.  No such contact was made.

Questions, questions, questions. 

The most important of all – where is the plaque?  By fortune, luck, whatever, I was able to find it, while searching out other favourite spots.

I went to 443 St Vincent, which is about 3 blocks away from Rasco’s to the site of the Hotel Richelieu, where Sarah Bernhardt stayed in 1880.  And there it was, placed atop the historic plaque which said the hotel was built in 1861, and the part about Sarah Bernhardt.

It looks most peculiar; the plaque has nothing to do with the location, and the events it commemorated took place 26 years prior to its construction. The Society never met there, nor had events there.  It is completely out of place and context.


Who moved the plaque?  Why?  And why there?

Lord Nelson’s Monument, Montreal, 1807

The Ipswich Journal 15 August 1807, p 4

A Monument to the memory of Lord Nelson has been erected at Montreal, in Canada.  It is a pillar of solid stone, sixty feet high, surmounted by a figure of the gallant Admiral, in artificial stone, eight feet high, upon the capital.

Alligator peeking out from the snow on Nelson's Column in Montreal, 2015
Alligator peeking out from the snow on Nelson’s Column in Montreal, 2015

Birthday of the Prince of Wales [George IV], 1803

Morning Post, 13 August 1803, page 3

Prince of Wales' Indulgence at Carlton House []
Prince of Wales’ Indulgence at Carlton House []
Never did the metropolis exhibit a more grand and general display of illumination on the anniversary of the birth of our beloved Prince, than last night.  Every individual, any way connected with His Royal Highness, appeared eager to evince the most respectful attachment, by some additional splendour of lights.  A grand gala was given at Vauxhall on the occasion, which was most crowded and brilliant.  Many grand dinners were also given in the metropolis.  At Brighton, Birmingham and at other county towns, we observe by the Provincial Papers, there were public fetes.  St James’ Street, in London was particularly brilliant; the Globe Insurance Office, in Pall Mall, was well lighted up.  As usual, Barfield, His Royal Highness’ Printer, stood pre-eminent, both for the elegance of his arrangement, and the number of his lamps, which could be very little short of 2000.  Around each of the pillars of the portico, on which are erected His Royal Highness’s arms, ran a festoon of variegated lamps, intermixed with laurel leaves; above which a cornice, with a double row of festoons.  In the centre, GP encircled with laurel branches, over these, a most brilliant star; rather lower, but wider extended, were placed perforated vases, lighted, and filled with laurel on each side of the house, reaching nearly 32 feet high, pilasters of the Ionic order; with a few beautiful diamonds; and the whole surmounted by the largest plume of feathers we ever remember to have seen, extending more than 40 feet in height, which produced such a profusion of light, as rendered Wardour-street the resort of thousands, till a late hour this morning.

No Procession on the 12th, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Daily Star, 11 July 1877, page 1

No Procession on the 12th

The Orangemen Patriotically Accede to the Request of their Fellow Citizens and Abandon the Procession in the Interest of Peace

A great weight has been lifted off the city by the patriotic conduct of the Orange body in acceding to the request of their fellow citizens, and abandoning , for this year, at least, their intention of walking to the church in procession on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.  This resolution was not arrived at until a few minutes before midnight last night, and the deepest anxiety was manifested by large numbers of citizens who congregated in several places to know the result.  At St Patrick’s Hall the largest gathering with [illegible] and the heads of the Irish Societies were in session until a late hour.  The course that has been pursued reflects honor upon all concerned.  The sp[illegible] of wise concession and forbearance showed by the Orangemen deserve the highest recognition, and the Roman Catholics were among the first last night to acknowledge the spirit of conciliation that was manifested in the resolution arrived at.  Every one looked forward to serious trouble, if not loss of life if the procession took place, and the feeling that was prevailed for some time past in this community has been a profoundly painful one.  Much of the happy result accomplished is owing to the wise and moderate con [illegible] pursued by the leaders of the Irish societies, who suggested and succeeded in getting truly representative meeting yesterday [illegible] all our National Societies. The sensible speeches of those gentlemen, who met in the parlour of the St Lawrence Hall, and notably the observations of the chairman, could not fail to have effect in averting what was looked forward to as a civil war. Our city has been spared scenes of riot and disorder that would have fallen upon her like a nightmare.  Good sense has prevailed, and citizens now look forward to a long continuance of that peace, harmony and good will that should always prevail among a people and by the ties of a common Christianity and citizenship.  The matter has been acquitted in such a form that both sides can co[illegible] shake hands over the result, and no feeling of triumph or defeat be felt on either side.

We stated in last evening’s issue that the meeting in the St Lawrence Hall passed a resolution earnestly among the Orangemen to give up the procession.  This result was communicated to the leaders of the Orange Society by a deputation and a copy of the resolution signed by all the representatives of National Societies, [illegible] added to Colonel Smith and Mr Grant the latter County Master and Chairman [illegible] the mass meeting of Orangemen which was being held in the Orange Hall. These gentlemen promised to lay it before the meeting without delay and return as early as possible with an answer. The signers remained in session awaiting an answer, and the reports from time to time that arrive, up to the last kept up the most painful anxiety to know the result. At 11:45 pm all felt as if they could breath freely, as an advance courier armed with the pleasing news that the resolution was carried (although by a narrow majority) to abandon the idea of  having a procession.  Messrs. Grant and Smith followed soon after as the ambassadors of peace and evidently well pleased to come in that capacity.  The meeting to receive the report took place at once, with Mr Devlin in the chair.  The following is the substance of what occurred.

Mr Grant said there had been a large attendance of the membership of the order, who after discussion had come to a resolution, which had been carried by a small majority, not to make a public demonstration.  The committee would be served with an exact copy of the resolution which had been arrived at. The society reserved their right to march when they pleased, but there would be no procession on the 12th of July this year. The members would proceed to church about half past eleven and trusted that there would be no disturbance or endeavour to hinder them in the charge of their privilege and duty of going to church.

Col Smith said that he had only to say that this decision had been arrived at after earnest deliberation upon the requests of the societies. They had determined to give way but reserved their right to go to church. He trusted the societies would now do their duty and see that the Orangemen were not molested. The society had acted in deference to the wishes of their fellow citizens.

Mr Grant said he ought to state that a deputation from the City Council had this day waited on the Orangemen which had tended in a great measure to influence their decision.

Mr Devlin said it was only necessary for him to say that he congratulated the societies on the result which had been arrived at, which was calculated to sustain and continue the friendly feeling which had existed for years.  He regarded the result, not as a triumph of party, but as a triumph of peace, good will and fellowship, and as such he regarded it.  He would announce the result at another meeting this evening.  All might rest assured that the proceedings throughout had been conducted with good will as tending to the prosperity of the Dominion and of the city of Montreal.

Col Smith said that in light of the society had acted in the interest of peace and good will.

Mr Devlin said he considered the best thanks of the committee and of the citizens generally were due to the gentlemen who had waited upon the committee, and also to all who had cooperated towards this good result. The Irish Catholic societies did not desire to triumph over Protestants, but were actuated by desires for the best interests of the whole country.

Mr Kerry, St George’s Society, said before the meeting separated it ought to thank the gentlemen of the Orange Society present for the interest they had taken in the matter.  He thought a vote of thanks should be passed to them for their kind offices.

Mr McMaster, of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society, in seconding the motion, said he had no doubt that the gentlemen had made many personal sacrifices for the peace of the city.

Several gentlemen having spoken in this sense.

Col Smith thought that the vote should be passed to the society generally.

Mr Kerry said he should be glad to amend his motion in that sense.

The motion having been carried.

Col Smith, in acknowledging it, said he hoped after all this would be considered brethren.  The meeting adjourned.

The Turkey Shot – Our Family Tradition, 2016

Christmas is almost upon us, and it brings with it a time to reflect on traditions that we continue, and memories of Christmases past.  Looking at my collection of family photos I am struck by the abundance of pictures of the Christmas turkey (and also the Thanksgiving Turkey).  Seriously, we take a lot of pictures of our turkeys.  So what is the fascination?

I first went online to find out about when people started eating turkey at Christmas.  After consulting ‘Dr. Google’ it seems that the turkey has been enjoyed since the time of Henry VIII when a Yorkshireman named William Strickland brought six birds from the new world.  [Felipe Araujo, Express, 25 Dec 2015 ] But it seems that it was only in the late 1800s that the beast started being enjoyed by people for Christmas.  When Dickens used the turkey in his story A Christmas Carol as for Christmas dinner with the Cratchits, it was clear that the turkey meal was a special dish.  One source says that the turkey became the dish for the the middle class by the beginning of the 20th century [].  Another source places its popularity at a later time : “Indeed, up until the 1950s it was widely considered a luxury, as only then refrigerators became commonplace. Back in the 1930s the average person had to work for a week to be able to buy a turkey. Now it only takes 1.7 hours of labour.” And it was only in the last 60 years that it has become more widely used for Christmas dinner. [Felipe Araujo, Express, 25 Dec 2015 ]

I know that when Mom moved to Canada from England turkey was an unusual thing.  She normally had goose at Christmas. Dad, Canadian-born, seems to have done the turkey feast with his parents.  I think that after Mom married she decided to opt for the turkey meal, but with a number of English sides and deserts such as sausage rolls, mincemeat pies, trifle and the like. I should also mention that at the time of her marriage, she didn’t know how to cook, so it was all a learning curve anyway.  Growing up it was turkey all the way, with stuffing, corn, potatoes and cranberry sauce.  Maybe it was the sense of accomplishment – the perfect turkey, the delicious sides, the festive decorations, crackers ready to be pulled, and the joy of the season – but every year we took a picture of the turkey.  I have shared a few of the more interesting turkey shots below.

Really, the meal is only part of the tradition, it is the picture of the turkey which makes it feel like Christmas!

Dad and the turkey in 1989
Early 1970s



Act of Remembrance, Memorial Chapel – Ottawa, 2016

Today I attended the ceremony in the Memorial Chapel.  The Book of Remembrance lists all  those who died in service during the all the wars Canada participated in, and every day a page is turned so that they are honoured at least one day a year.  On December 22nd, the page turns to show the name of my grandfather’s first cousin, 2nd Lt Victor R Pauline.  This year I requested permission to attend the ceremony.  With this permission, I was able to stand in the chapel when the pages were turned, otherwise I would have had to stand outside the chapel and wait for the turning to finish before seeing Victor’s name.

I had come in 1996 or 7 to see the ceremony from outside, and it was interesting.  But to be in the room as the pages are turned is a much more immediate experience.  I was unsure how I would feel in the moment.  I did not know Victor, who died in 1918, but Grandad did, and I knew his niece very well.  Since my last visit to the chapel in the 1990s, I also have read some of the letters that he wrote home, so he was more real to me.

I must admit to being actually a bit emotional during the ceremony, and seeing his name among so many others who died in the First World War, brought home the waste and tragedy of war.  I thought I would share some of the images I took, and the video of the service which I have posted on Youtube.

See Video Here.

memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-3 memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-4 memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-5 memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-6 memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-7 memorial-chamber-ceremony-2016-9

St Andrew’s Day, Montreal, 1880

Montreal Daily Star, 1 December 1880, page 1

St Andrew’s Day

Annual Gathering of the Clans – The sermon in Craig Street Church mirth and music at the Windsor

Our Scottish friends were [illegible] at an early hour yesterday, preparing for the proper celebration of the anniversary of their patron saint.  More than one aged wanderer from the

“Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,

Land of the mountain and the good”

Sported the purple heather, and doubtless felt at least two inches taller than on the preceding day.  Why not?

Caledonian Society

The annual meeting of the Caledonian society was held in the lecture room of the Crescent Street Church, at 2 o’clock.  The President, Mr Thos Robins, occupied the chair.

After routine business, it was

Moved by Mr Wm Angus, seconded by Mr James Wright, and unanimously resolved, “That the sum of $100 be donated to the charitable fund of the St Andrew’s Society.”

It was then resolved on motion of Mr P Fulton, seconded by Mr J Wright, “That the President, Mr Thos Robins, and the Secretary, Mr J Hood, be a deputation to present the amount at the St Andrew’s Society meeting.”

St Andrew’s Society

This Society met immediately after the Caledonian Society adjourned, when the installation of officers recently elected tool place.

In reference to a sum of £34 13s 6d Canadian currency, handed to the Society some twenty-five years ago, on the death by drowning of a Scotchman named Gilchrist, it was reported that the amount, with interest, in all, $334.62, has been made over to the heirs of the deceased, who have attained their majority.

The deputation from the Caledonian Society to acquaint the meeting with the resolution of that Society, voting the amount of $100 to the charitable fund of the St Andrew’s Society, was received, and a vote of thanks passed.

The two societies then met and adjourned to the Crescent Street church, where

The Annual Sermon

Was preached by Rev AB Mackay.  The Rev gentleman took as the basis of his address the character of the Apostle Andrew as set forth in St John’s Gospel.  He admitted that it was sometimes difficult to find a suitable subject for a special occasion, but their subject stared them in the face that afternoon; what could be more appropriate at a meeting of St Andrew’s Society on St Andrew’s day than to direct their attention to the character of St Andrew.  There are, he proceeded, a great many traditions about Andrew. He is the patron Saint of Russia as well as of Scotland. But those are mere cobwebs of the dark ages, and we will go back to the fountain head and see what the Bible says about Andrew, and seek to imitate him. There are few characters more worthy of imitation. The first characteristic we notice in him is that he put himself in the way of getting good.  There was a great movement in connection with the preaching of John the Baptist, and amongst those who went to hear the rough preacher was Andrew; who, however, was not like the fickle crowd, but became one of John’s disciples, and stuck to him through thick and thin. The Scotch people as a whole imitate St Andrew in this. They are pre-eminently a Sabbath keeping people. Like Andrew, Scotchmen are noted, all the world over, for their particularity, clinging to the faith which they have inherited from their forefathers. But Andrew did something better than follow John, who was only “a voice crying in the wilderness” a finger post pointing to the Lamb of God.  As John cried “behold the Lamb of God” Andrew left John  and followed Jesus. We should imitate Andrew in this also. A great company of Scotchmen follow Andrew when he merely puts himself in the way of getting good, but that company became much smaller when Andrew follows the Lord Jesus Christ, and takes Him for his Saviour.  Scotchmen are great seekers. Here they are in Canada; they are in India, and all over the world, doing the world’s rough work, and sometimes governing the world, seeking glory and happiness.  Andrew teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, when all other things will be added to us.  Jesus had his eye upon Andrew, and when he saw him following Him, He said: “What seek ye!” Andrew answered, “Master, where dwellest thou!” when Jesus gave the wonderful invitation to the fisherman Andrew from the Son of the Highest to dwell with Him, and to get a solution of the difficulties that beset his soul.  Jesus receives every true seeker in like manner today. We have heard of the ,” philosopher who ran through the streets, crying “Eureka, Eureka, I have found it;” but how much more blessed are those who, like Andrew, can say, “We have found the Messiah”.  Then Andrew confessed the truth. Having found the Messiah, he went and told others, and was the honored instrument of bringing his brother, Simon Peter to Christ. The reverend gentleman referred in proud terms to men like Rutherford, Knox, Chalmers, Livingstone and Duff, who had rendered Scotland famous throughout the world.  He alluded in eloquent terms to Scotland’s many glories and precious memories, and concluded by expressing the hope that all the families represented in that Church would meet in unbroken ranks around the throne of God.

The Ball

The annual ball took place at the Windsor Hotel, and was very successful.  Among the company were a number of the officers of the Fifth (Royal Scots) Fusiliers in full Highland uniform, as well as those of some of the other battalions. Shortly after nine o’clock the President of the Society, with the invited guests, preceded by the pipers of the Fifth (Royal Scots) Fusiliers, entered the ball-room, where Terpsichore ruled supreme. The music was provided by Gruenwald’s orchestra, and consisted mostly of a number of favourite Scotch airs. There were present about one hundred and fifty guests. Some of the costumes were particularly striking, and much taste was displayed in all.  An interesting feature in the ball-room was the national dances which were performed very artistically.  Shortly after midnight the supper-room was sought and the menu served in the “Windsor’s” best style. During the supper several toasts were proposed, and afterwards the dancing was resumed and the majority of the fair belles and their gallant Lotharios “danced and danced away” until the “wee sma hours” when they dispersed. The invited guests were: His Worship Mayor Rivard; Edward Rawlings, President St George’s Society, and lady; Thomas Robin, President Caledonian Society; Hon TJ Loranger, President Jean Baptiste Society; FB McNamee, President St Patrick’s Society; John H Mooney, Irish Protestant Benevolent Society; Wm Wilson, St Patrick’s National Society; WC Munderloch, German Societyl; and Mr WJ Ingram of the St Andrew’s Society of New York.

The Day Elsewhere

Quebec – Flags were to-day hoisted on the Parliament House and several of the main buildings, in honor of St Andrew’s Day.  The anniversary sermon of the St Andrew’s Society was preached to-night by Rev Dr Cook.

Toronto- The St Andrew’s Society celebrated the day by a dinner at the Queen’s this evening. There was a large attendance.

Ottawa- St Andrew’s Day was observed by the members of the Society attending services in St Andrew’s Church, whom the annual sermon was preached by the Chaplain of the Society, Rev FW Farries from the 5th and 6th verses of the 137th Psalm.  There was a good turn-out of brethren.  This evening a grand concert in the Opera House is well attended.  At the conclusion of the concert of the officers of the Society were entertained by the President, Mr Sanford Fleming a the Rideau Club.

Halifax- To-day being St Andrew’s Day was a civic holiday.  The North British Society had their annual dinner at the Halifax Hotel to-night about eighty being present, among whom were Lieut-Governor Archibald and Chief Justice Sir William Young.

St John- St Andrew’s Day was observed by a supper at the Park Hotel to-night by St Andrew’s Society, and in like manner by the society at Fredericton, NB.

New York- St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York held their annual dinner to-night at Delmonicos.  Letters of regret were received from the Marquis of Lorne, General Grant, and Sir Edward Thornton, the British Minister.


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