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Hon Peter McGill, Obituary, 1860


Globe, 2 Oct 1860 page 3

Death of the Hon Peter McGill

Death has been busy of late among the leading men of Montreal. Within a few months the Hon John Molson and Sir George Simpson have been borne to their last resting place, and to-day we have to perform the mournful duty of announcing the decease of the Hon Peter McGill.  Few men have been longer in business in Montreal, few have occupied a more prominent position among her public men, and  none, we venture to say, have been more beloved. Mr McGill was born in Galloway – at Newton Stewart we believe, in August 1789, and was consequently in his 72nd year at the time of his decease. He came to this country in the year 1808 and has consequently been a resident here for fifty-two years.  He then bore the name of McCutchon.  He became a clerk in the counting house of Messrs Parker, Gerrard, Ogilvy & Co.  Later he entered business on his own account as member of the firm Porteous, Hancox, McCutchon & Cringan.  In 1819 he became a director of the Bank of Montreal.  In 1824 upon the decease of his uncle, the Hon John McGill, a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, he became heir to his large estates in the Western Province and assumed his name. About the same time he formed a new business connection with Mr Dowie of Liverpool, and with him carried on business for some years as McGill & Dowie, the name of the firm being subsequently changed to Peter McGill & Co.  the disastrous times succeeding 1847, followed by the failure of a friend and business correspondent for a large amount, brought its share of evil to this great house, though its resources were always more than ample to meet all claims.  During the last eight or nine years, however, its business has been limited to an adjustment of old affairs.  In good or bad times alike the credit of the house was unimpeachable.  In 1830 Mr McGill became vice-president of the Bank of Montreal, and in 1834 President, an office which he held for 26 years – until June last.  In 1832 he was called to the Legislative council of Lower Canada, and later, 1838, became an Executive Councillor for United Canada.  In 1843 he was offered the Speakership of that body by Lord Metcalfe.  The Hon Messrs Viger and Quesnel waited upon him at the time and stated his acceptance would be received with favour by the French Canadian members of the Council. The offer was then declined for private reasons, but was accepted in 1847 when offered by Lord Elgin with a seat in the Cabinet, and was held till 1848 when Mr McGill retired with his colleagues of the Conservative government.  In 1836 he was elected President of the Constitutional Society, and continued to serve in that capacity during the years of strife which followed.  During the rebellion, in his capacity of Executive Councillor and magistrate, he was in constant communication with the government respecting the measures to be pursued, and was an active promoter of the subsequent union of the Provinces. In 1840 a new city charter was granted to Montreal, under which the mayor was appointed by the Crown. Mr McGill being urged to accept the office, at first declined, upon which the then Governor General Mr CP Thompson, wrote to him as follows:

Government House, Aug 17, 1840

My Dear Sir – I am very unwilling to press you, after the very handsome manner in which you met my proposal this morning; but if upon reflection you can undertake the duties of Mayor, I should be certainly obliged to you, as I think it would give the Corporation a start which would ensure its success.

Believe me,

Very Truly Yours,


He finally accepted the office, and served in it till December 1842, when the office was made elective by council. During his term of office many great improvements were made in the city, and on his retirement the following resolution was passed:-

“On the motion of Alderman Bleury, seconded by Councillor Bourret, it was unanimously resolved,-

“That, whereas the present council will from and after tomorrow, cease to exist, the present is a fitting moment to convey to His Worship the Mayor, the Hon Peter McGill, the most sincere and unanimous thanks of the members of this Council, for the very gentlemanly and courteous manner in which he has at all times conducted and performed the high and important duties connected with his office as Mayor of this city; and it is with deep regret they have learned that he is determined not to be put in nomination at the ensuing municipal election, to sit again at this board, where his acknowledged ability and services have been so pre-eminently useful, and that the loss of such invaluable services cannot fail to be felt by the citizens generally.

In 1834 he was elected Chairman of the St Lawrence and Champlain Railway Company, and served in that capacity until the completion of the road between Laprairie and St John’s, in 1838.

In 1835 the Montreal St Andrew’s Society was formed and Mr McGill elected its first President, and annually re-elected till 1842 when he declined re-election.  The Society passed him a vote of thanks for services and regret that he declined to continue to serve.  He was, however, re-elected by acclamation in 1845, again declining re-election in 1846.  Mr McGill was a warmly attached member of the Scottish National Church and had been president of the Lay Association of Montreal, annually re-elected since 1845.

He was elected President of the Montreal Auxillary Bible Society in 1834, and served as such till 1844, when, declining re-election, a vote of thanks, and regrets was passed by the Society and he was made the first Honorary Life Governor.

He was for 16 years a Governor of the University of McGill College, Montreal, and was also a trustee of the University of Queen’s College, Kingston.  He had been for many years a Governor of the Montreal General Hospital; and was a President of the British and Canadian School Society of Montreal. He was a director of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and Chairman of the Canada Branch of the Colonial Life Assurance Company.  He served for one year, 1848, as President of the Montreal Board of Trade, declining re-election in 1849.

Mr McGill was for many years a zealous Free Mason, and in 1846 was appointed, by the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of England, Provincial Grand Master for Montreal, and William Henry, and in 1847 Provincial Grand Superintendent of Royal Arch Masonry in the Province of Canada. He resigned the former appointment in February 1850, in consequence of impaired health that he brethren manifesting on the occasion much fraternal regard and regret.

For several years past Mr McGill had been suffering from diseased action and enlargement of the heart. Within the last three years the disease had so impaired his strength as to unfit him for active business. In June last he finally retired from the position he had so long and ably filled in the bank.  A few days ago it became evident that the end of his sufferings was approaching. On Thursday evening the Rev Mr Snodgrass was within him offering the consolation of religion.  He was in full possession of his faculties up to the last, and at about one o’clock yesterday am he passed peacefully resignedly and hopefully away to his final rest.

The brief record we have given above will tell readers who were strangers to him how much of the esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens and of the government of the country he possessed, but it cannot tell them what all who enjoyed his acquaintance knew – how kindhearted and benevolent he was.  No one ever solicited his aid to a good cause and went away rebuffed.  One who knew him long and well used to say of his – his only fault is that he cannot say no to those people.  An evening contemporary (the Witness) truly says of him:-

“Of unsullied honour and integrity in all his transactions, Mr McGill was one of those merchants of whom it is emphatically said, their word is as good as their bond.  And his expenditures and subscriptions on all occasions were characteristic of a Merchant Prince.  Mr McGill always cherished a deep respect for sacred things, and at a time when working on the Lord’s day was common in almost every counting house in Montreal, he would not give in to pernicious custom, but took his place in the little Presbyterian church, of which he was a member, and we believe, an elder.”

There are none in Montreal who would not at any time have rejoiced at any accession of good fortune to Mr McGill – none who will not hear of his death today with deep regret.  He was bound up with the interests of the city by almost innumerable ties.  His active business life here covered more than half the period which has elapsed since Canada became a British colony.  In his death one of the few remaining golden links that bound us to the business and public men of the last generation is broken.  It is for us to mourn; but for himself we have good cause to hope, that the many earthly honours he won here during a life prolonged beyond the Psalmist’s allotted “three score years and ten”, have been exchanged for a greater reward which will not pass away.  The only relatives he leaves behind him in Canada are his brother James McCutchon Esq of Toronto and two sons, both officers in the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, the elder of whom served with credit in the 60th Rifles at the siege and capture of Delhi.  Fortunately stationed in this city, they have both been enabled to be near him and do all that filial love could prompt .to bring comfort and peace to the months of suffering which preceded his death.


24th of May, Montreal, 1877

Montreal Gazette, 23 May 1877, page 3


The Queen, God Bless Her- What to do, where to go, and how to celebrate on Her Birthday – in the city and out of the city

With the sweep of time the Queen’s Birthday comes again and will be, as it has always been, welcomed right loyally throughout the Dominion, but in no place with more spontaneity than in our own city.  The Mayor has issued the proclamation for a general holiday, and the question now on the tongue of everyone is, “where to go on the 24th?” Below we give a few of the principal events.


Grand Lacrosse Match at 3pm, between the Montreal Club and Indians, at which the Band of the Victoria Rifles will attend.

Academy of Musicat 2:30, and evening performance at 8.

St George’s Concert at the Rink at 8pm.

Sig Hazazer’s Assembly.  Closing party of the season.

Volunteer Review in the forenoon at Fletcher’s Field, on the Mountain slope.,

The Island Park ferry boat will ply all day, leaving Island Wharf every half hour.


On the Grand Trunk Railway to St Hilaire, leaving Bonaventure Station at 8am, and returning at a seasonable hour in the evening. Passes will be issued on the Grand Trunk Railway on the 24th good for the next day at one fare, and good until the 28th at one fare and a third.

On the South Eastern, tickets good for the 23rd, 24th and 25th inclusive, will be sold at one fare to Memphremagog, and a steam yacht conveys parties from Newport to any point on the Lake.

The steamer Prince of Wales leaves Lachine for Carillon and intermediate landings on the arrival of the 7 am train which leaves Bonaventure Depot, returning in time for the evening train.

Excursion of the Natural History Society to Oka.

Grand excursion to St Jerome,leaving Hochelaga at 8:50am; returning, leave St Jerome at 6pm.

Trotting races at Laprairie, the steamer making three trips during the day.

Excursion to Cornwall on the Grand Trunk Railway; tickets good for two days $1, the band of the Sixth Fusiliers to be present.

Grand excursion to Caughnawaga as per advertisement.

Walter Scott Centenary, Montreal, 1871

Globe, 16 August 1871, page 4


Montreal, Aug 15

A private banquet was given to-night on temperance principals, as the Carlton Club, in commemoration of the Scott Centenary.  Between sixty and seventy person were present.  Addresses were delivered, but the affair was quiet, as it was resolved a month since to let the day pass, all the principal citizens being out of the city.  The Scott scholarship subscription progresses rapidly, and of the requisite $1500, $1000 is already raised.

[Oh Lord this sounds desperately dull!]

Situating Sarsfield – part of a larger picture, 2018

Chateau from hotel website – 1169 is on the left of the screen.

When I visit Montreal, which is quite frequently, I like to take advantage of the overnight to visit places of familial significance.  This includes old family homes, businesses, or cemeteries. The streets are marked by the presence of the various lines of my family, although most are silent to the public at large.  One of the benefits of being a historian is the fact that I have been able to research and pinpoint these places, and understand their larger significance to family and place.

One of the places I do like to visit is the Chateau Versailles Hotel on Sherbrooke Street.  It all depends of course on if there is a good deal available.  The hotel is a series of four elegant townhouses, and is a bit fancy.  Part of this block, 1669 was also the home of my great-great uncle Sarsfield Cuddy.

Sarsfield Ludger Emmett Cuddy

I have been lucky enough to be able to stay in the “Cuddy” part of the hotel twice now, and when I have found out that my room was in 1669 have expressed my joy to a rather perplexed staff.  You see to them this is the Berthier part of the building.

The hotel does, to a limited extent, commemorate its history.  In the main floor corridor of 1669 the hotel has placed some photographs of the Berthier sisters with a bit of text speaking to their 25 year residence in the building from 1942, when they purchased the home from the original owners – the Cuddys.  Along with the photograph and small history of the Berthier sisters’ haute couture dressmaking business run from this location, there is also an old sewing machine.  A formal photograph of Narcisse Perodeau also graces the same area.  He was a successful politician, notary and businessman.  He was Quebec Lieutenant Governor from 1924 to 1928.  He lived in 1659.

Commemoration of the buildings’ past is rather selective, and in this case, a shame, as all four buildings were homes to very interesting families over the course of a hundred years. I am sure that in reading this you are thinking that I am only saying this because they left Sarsfield and his family out of the narrative.  And you would be partially correct – yeah, it ticks me off a bit that he is not considered interesting enough to merit inclusion in the history of a home he lived in for over thirty years, and whose direction  as original owner dictated a great many of the exterior details which still distinguish the building from its neighbours. But here is the thing, these four buildings are more than just about Sarsfield Cuddy.

These four houses, constructed during the height of the ‘Great Square Mile’, when Sherbrooke Street was lined with large and luxurious housing.  These houses were built to impress, and provide its residents with a great style of living. The houses were built by architect and developer James Seath-Smith starting in 1911.  He lived in 1657 until 1935, and also owned 1671. 1659 was purchased by Narcisse Peradeau, whose daughter Yvonne was married to Sarsfield’s brother-in-law Frank McKenna.  A history of the hotel, written in 1979, goes into great detail about how so many of the buildings’ residents were interconnected, living and working in close proximity.


La Presse, 18 juillet 1902 p7

It is also interesting to note that when some of the people moved to smaller premises they did not move that far away.  Peradeau sold his house in 1928 to Lady Hermine LeBlanc (his son’s mother-in-law) and moved to the Chateau Apartments at 1321 Sherbrooke Street.  Sarsfield’s widow Estelle McKenna sold their home in 1942 and moved to the same building with her daughter Lorraine.  Sarsfield’s two sisters Teresa and Honora only lived a block away in the Linton Apartments at 1509 Sherbrooke Street.

It is from the late 1930s that the neighbourhood started to change from this elegant single family living to that of a more business oriented residence – with the buildings being used as both home and business.  The Berthier sisters lived above their fancy dressmaking business, from 1942; and Perodeau’s home and its immediate neighbour became a hotel and the house on the other side of the Cuddy house became a gentleman’s club.  And now the whole block is a hotel offering a taste of the elegance and luxury enjoyed by the original owners.

Please read my biography of Sarsfield here.


Hotel Chateau Versailles: a history, Betty Guernsey, Hotel Chateau Versailles, 1979

Montreal’s Sherbrooke Street: the spine of the city, Mackay L Smith, Infinite Books, 2006

Dictionary of Family Biography – Sarsfield Ludger Emmett Cuddy (Jan 2016)

The Benefits of Cricket, Montreal, 1822

Montreal Herald, 29 May 1822, page 2

To the Editor of the Montreal Herald


On reading the Paragraph upon Cricket in your supplement of last Wednesday, it gave rise to the following reflections:

That I perfectly agree with the Author, that the game of Cricket is conductive to health, and peculiarly adapted to youth, especially those leading a sedentary life; as it expands the chest, opens a free passage of breathing, promotes perspiration without endangering the system, and puts the whole muscular frame in motion, unattended with the least violence.

It has also much to that manly vigour and firm step as remarkable in an Englishman.

As a further illustration, look to our Mother Country there is scarcely a noble man who has not been trained to Cricket in his youth – can there even be a stronger proof in favour of the game, when every Boarding school establishment considers it a necessary appendage to have a play ground for the youth to be exercised at Cricket.

It is a pity town cannot offer a better spot than at the Wind-mills which is so much exposed; but as the gentlemen forming the Club take infinite pains in rotting it &c it is hoped our good citizens will assist by directing their servants not to ride or drive over the Play ground.

I hope to see next year, amongst the general importations, Bats and Balls introduced.

I am sir,

Your Obedient

A Byestander

St Andrew’s Dinner – politics – Montreal, 1835

Montreal Gazette, 19 December 1835, page 2


The Editor of the Vindicator, though now in Quebec, pretends to have a perfect knowledge of what is going on in Montreal, but the errors into which he falls, are sometimes ridiculous in the extreme.  At telling a falsehood, he does not stickle much, if we are to judge by the numerous assertion he makes about the persons present at the late St Andrew’s Dinner. He sometime ago said that Mr Murrogh the protonotary, was present – he was not.  Yesterday, he asserts that the Deputy Sheriff the Solicitor General and Mr Buchanon King’s Counsel, attended.  We give to this statement a plump denial.


He would insinuate that the Rifle Corps has been organized through the instrumentality of the Constitutional Association – this we also deny; there is no connection between them.


He would also insinuate that the national societies in this city are political associations.  This is another error.  They have been formed from charitable motives – politics are never discussed at the meetings, and a difference of opinion is no bar to admission.  That a great majority may be of one political party, cannot be a matter of surprise, when it is considered that they hail a common origin, have been educated in the same principles, and are equally proscribed by the faction that seeks to dominate over this province.  When met at the social board, they cannot be expected to drown all their preconceived opinions, and when a routine toast is proposed, they may receive or reject it, just as their conscience and judgement may direct.  Their annual reports which detail the expenditure of their funds will prove that “to relieve the distressed” is their benevolent and honourable object.

R Daft’s Cricket Tour of Canada, 1879

Sporting Life, 24 Sep 1879, p 1

R Daft’s Cricket Tour in Canada and the United States

(By our special correspondent)

Toronto, September 12

After touching on Saturday, the 6th instant, at Rimouski, on the southern bank of the St Lawrence, we steamed rapidly down the river, and reached Quebec on Sunday morning at half-past seven.  As we had some hours at our disposal several of us, including Emmett, Bates, and myself, crossed the St Lawrence, and had a look at Quebec.  The town is not well built, and except in the more aristocratic parts did not seem to be very desirable place to live in.  The monument to General Wolfe we regarded with interest.  The view down the river from the heights of Abraham was very fine, and one wondered, standing in this apparently impregnable position, how Wolfe and his army succeeded.  By one o’clock we had taken our places for Montreal, and passing through a fine country, in which the harvest was over, we reached that city at quarter past eleven on Sunday evening.  We put up at the Windsor Hotel, one of the finest in the world. The dining room itself would hold an entire decent sized English hotel, the staircases are of marble, and the upholstery & c of the most finished description. After breakfast, Orcroft and I had a look at the Montreal Cricket Grounds, and found it small, but in good order. La Crosse is the popular game about Montreal, cricket being in greater favour at Toronto, where there are less French.  We should have played at Montreal first had not the Toronto fixture been made at a date when there were great gatherings expected in that city, owing to there being a great exhibition, review of the troops by the Governor General and the Princess Louise &c.  On Monday the 8th we reached Toronto at elevent in the evening, and found the place so crammed with visitors that it was difficult to find us accomadation.  The Walker Hotel where we stayed ,was very crowded, beds being made up in the billiard room and in the passages.  The city was brilliantly illumintated in honour of the Governor and the Princess, who are expected to be present at our first match, which commences on Wednesday morning.

Our men went to the Toronto Cricket Ground on Tuesday morning to have some practice.  They had scarcely go their land legs, and the play was somewhat loose; Shrewsbury, Selby and Bates were in good form, however, Alfred Shaw with the ball.  The ground is in fine order, and we shall have a good wicket.

A Canadian Addresses the Queen in Braid Scotch, 1897

Aberdeen Press and Journal, 8 July 1897 p5

A Canadian address to the Queen in Braid Scotch

The Caledonian Society of Montreal cabled a message of congratulation to Her Majesty in braid Scotch.  The message was signed by the president of the society Mr SS Bain and Sir Donald Smith, who has just been elevated to the peerage, was to undertake the placing of the address in Her Majesty’s hands:-

Greeting to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, from her loyal subjects, the Montreal Caledonian society, Montreal, Canada

Far frae the hills o’ the heather, haunts o’ an earlier day,

But still o’ their dear neuks dreaming, and sindert by naught but the sea,

We, sons o’ the Tweed and the Ettrick, loons frae the Tummel and Spey,

In aefauld pride and affection, offer oor greetings to thee:

Queen o’ oor hearts and oor hamesteads! Laird o’ oor love and oor land!

Lang may we hae thee amang us, a blessing at ance and a biel,

Till He wha has ever been wi’ thee strengthens thy heart and thy hand

To had His ain tryst wi’ thy dear ones, safe in the land o’ the leal.

Prince Arthur curling in Montreal, 1870

Orkney Herald and Weekly Advertiser and Gazette for the Orkney & Zetland Islands, 18 Jan 1870 p4

Prince Arthur a Curler – the Canada Scotsman records the presentation to Prince Arthur by the Montreal Caledonian Curling Club of a pair of curling stones and broom.  The presentation was made by Mr A Stevenson, president of the club.  The curling stones, of course, were accepted by His Royal Highness, who shouldered his besom like a veteran, and took his place at the hack, whence he sent the two first stones to the tee, and declared the rink opened amid rousing cheers.  A game then commenced, in which the following players took part: –

AA Stevenson                                                 AC Hutchison

Prince Arthur                                                   Alex McGibbon

Matthew Hutchison                                         Robert Gardner

Wm McGibbon – Skip                                     D Brown – Skip

And two ends were played, the Prince’s side gaining both after a keen contest, both sides playing their best, too many looking on who knew the game to allow any favouritism being shown.  Owing to other engagements, Prince Arthur had then to leave, and retired apparently delighted with his first trial of curling in Canada.

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