Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments



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.

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.

CC BY-SA 3.0

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



“Eh! Man, but I’d like a dish o’ they Oats.”

Dominion Day, Montreal, 1871

Montreal Gazette, 3 July 1871, page 2.


Dominion Day

Doings in the City – Inspection of Grand Trunk Brigade – Picnics of Caledonian and St Patrick’s Societies – Inspection of the Fire Brigade – The Camp – Excursions – Fine Weather and much enjoyment

If ever the clerk of the weather was gracious to a perspiring community anxious on the occasion of a holiday to escape from the heat, dust and monotony of everyday life in the city, to fly away from pens and ink, blotters and blotting paper, from the manufactory and the workshop, to breathe the fresh air of the river and witness the green woods of the country, he was gracious to the inhabitants of Montreal on Dominion Day. There was never a holiday in Canada finer; there could hardly be finer weather for a holiday anywhere. All day the blue sky was unclouded, and a cool breeze blew, making the atmosphere balmy and refreshing.  It was Queen’s weather, and the world and his wife, who had made up their minds to make a day of it either in or out of the city, were in the most amiable of humour. Best bonnets and dresses were produced and donned without the slightest hesitation, paterfamilias was seen abroad without his umbrella, and it is averred that the nervous man actually stopped from the threshold of his door without once gazing upwards. The city was gay with bunting and looked as it always done on such occasions, as handsome and inviting as any city on a holiday could be expected to look. The excursions from the city were legion, in number, and every one was attended by immense crowds. The camp at Laprairie was one of the chief attractions and many a well-filled basket was conveyed by loving hands to a brave son or brother in her Majesty’s uniform, and browned by exposure and strengthened by drill, converted into a very warrior. Although a multitude poured out of the city and vicinity, and to witness the inspections of the Grand Trunk Volunteer Brigade in the morning and the Fire Brigade in the afternoon, detailed accounts of which are given in their order below.


A fitting inauguration of the day’s proceedings was the inspection, by the Adjutant General, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sir Hastings Doyle, of the splendid battalions composing the Grand Trunk Brigade.  About half-past nine o’clock the Brigade, composed of six batteries of Garrison Artillery, five companies of Rifles, and one company of Engineers – the whole under command of Lieutenant Colonel Bailey; the Artillery headed by their fine Instrumental band, and the rifles by their five and drum band, marched from the Brigade Armoury, Point St Charles, through the city, on to the Champ de Mars, with a step and bearing that would not have been discreditable to a regular regiment. The Brigade having halted wheeled into line, with bands in rear, and awaited the arrival of the Adjutant-General, Colonel Robertson Ross, who soon made his appearance, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sir Hastings Doyle and his Aide-de-Camp, Captain Black, and was received by his usual general salute. At the saluting base were assembled Hugh Allan Esq., Lieut. Stevenson, and Lieut. Col. McPherson.  A little later and the party were joined by Deputy Adjutant General Colonel Osborne Smith, who arrived from the camp at Laprairie.


The salute over, the Brigade was formed into companies of open column, right in front. Each man in every company was then minutely inspected by the Adjutant General.  At the conclusion of the inspection the Brigade was again wheeled into line, when the command was given to fire a


Which was very creditably done, considering the little practice volunteers have in this kind of firing; the general salute followed, the bands playing the national anthem and after which three rousing cheers were given for the Queen by the troops, and all honor was done the day.


The Brigade was then formed into column of companies right in front, and marched past with rifles at the shoulder. The wheeling of the artillery was magnificent as was their marching past; the rifles were not quite so steady but they also wheeled and marched past more like regulars than a volunteer regiment.  The Brigade then countermarched by ranks and marched past again at quarter distance, with rifles at the trail, in admirable style.


The Brigade again formed out line when a company of the rifles was extended as skirmishers and began a lively fire, but soon retreated loading and firing as they fell back. Meanwhile the line retired down the slope of the Champs de Mars on the Craig Street side where they awaited their turn to be called into action, which soon came, for the skirmishers having succeeded in drawing on the enemy laid down, and the whole line advanced, passed the skirmishers and began by independent file firing, the front rank kneeling, pouring into the enemy a terrific fire.  For a time there was all the smoke and roar of horrid conflict, fortunately without the bullets to make it deadly.  A good idea could be had from the constant roar of rifles from one end of the line to the other of the terribly destructive nature of the Snider-Enfield Rifles. Although in the hands of volunteers, who are not supposed to be able to fire and load with the same coolness and rapidity as regulars, yet the deadly fire from the time it began until the bugle sounded ‘cease-firing’ never flagged; with bullets the fire would have been simply a mass of lead poured into the ranks of an enemy, a murderous butchering fire before which it would be almost impossible for any living thing to stand.

The enemy being annihilated the bands took up their positions and the troops marched off the ground to martial music, and thus concluded one of the most successful military displays there has been since the regular soldiers left the city.

The Adjutant General, accompanied by the Deputy Adjutant General, at the conclusion of the inspection galloped to the Laprairie ferry steamer, en route for the camp.

The fife and drum band of the rifles, it was noticed wore the Glengarry Bonnet, which is the new regulation forage cap soon to be served to all the volunteers.

An immense concourse of people viewed the display with great delight and satisfaction.

Chinese Wedding Bells, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 25 July 1919, page 2

Chinese wedding bells

A ceremony rarely seen in Montreal was enacted yesterday when Miss Gracie Man Kee, of Quebec was married to Harry Lee, one of the foremost members of the Chinese colony in Montreal.  The little bridesmaid was Miss Margaret Lee. Chinese hymns were sung at the wedding service in the Chinese Mission and quaint customs observed after the marriage.


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.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: