Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments



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.

Emigration to Canada – how others see us, Montreal, 1869

Montreal Gazette, 11 August 1869, page 3

Emigration to Canada

How Others See Us

Experience of a recent influential visitor, what he saw in, and what he says of, Canada

A special meeting of the British and Colonial Emigration Fund was held at the Mansion-house, London on the 27th ult, the Lord Mayor presiding.  There were present, among others, Sir George Grey, late Governor of New Zealand, Mr Dixon, Canada emigration agent, Mr White, special emigration commissioner from Ontario, the Rev JF Kitto.

Mr EH Currie, a member of the committee, and long identified with the Poplar district as a large employer of labour, read an interesting account of a visit he had recently made to the Dominion of Canada, with the view of ascertaining with some exactitude the prospects of persons emigrating thither from the east of London. For that purpose he left Liverpool on the 23d of May last, and returned on the 16th of July.  He made Toronto his headquarters, and saw about 100 families who had emigrated from the east of London in a different district of Ontario. He also held meetings and addressed letters to the local papers on the object of his visit.  He travelled over many miles of country, and visited most of the principal towns, spent three days in the heart of the free grant district above Lake Muskoka, made the best use of this time in consulting farmers and others, losing no opportunity of ascertaining facts, and finally spent several days at Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec, and worked out the whole system of passing emigrants to their new homes, both at Quebec and New York.  He acknowledged the debt of gratitude he was under to many friends at Toronto and elsewhere, especially to the Government emigration officers, who placed every facility in his way.  The result he had arrived at was a conviction on his part that nearly all the emigrants aided by the charitable societies were not merely employed, by far the greater portion of them at farm work, but were perfectly happy and contented. Some naturally succeeded better than others, some few had been unfortunate, some were unthrifty and would not succeed anywhere, but they were exceptions.  Every able, industrious and sober man would get employment earn a livelihood, and in a few years make a provision for his family, but he must be prepared for some hardships at first.  He must take moderated wages until he become acquainted with the wages of the country.

Mr Currie thinks there is no country which affords so many instances of success in Canada. In nine cases out of ten failure is the fault of the emigrant himself. Emigrants whether with some money or not, must go determined to work for themselves.  All that is required is industry and sobriety.  An emigrant, unless going to friends, should pass on to Toronto at once, and put himself entirely in the emigration agent’s hands, and if offered employment at a fair rate, close with it for a year.  He urges every emigrant to get out of town as quickly as possible, to take work in country districts, food, rent and fuel being all much dearer in the towns. A mechanic he says, should take the first job offered to him, even at low wages, and he will in a short time get a better offer at his own trade, if he is worth it. Mr Currie dissuades an emigrant from taking a free grant of land.  He tells him to obtain employment on a farm till he has bought his experience of the country, and if he has a little money to put it in a savings bank for a year. With the exception of the small amount required for clothing, he can save all his wages and it is useless to settle in the bush unless he has £40 or £50 to carry him through the first year and to purchase tools. The farmers, he says, live well, the quantity of mess consumed is more a matter of taste than economy; vegetables and fruit are abundant and any quantity of milk is to be obtained. He met a farmer at Barrie on Lake Simcoe who had two Portsmouth men in his employ. They went out in the Crocodile. The farmer told him that at first, as might be expected, they were of little use to him.  They were greenhorns, as he expressed himself, but they meant to succeed and in a few weeks they got on so well that he had agreed with them for a year, at 22l 10s each, a house and their board being found them, the use of a cow for the children, and they had each half an acre of land, which he had ploughed for them.  They were quite contented and happy, and their employer said he had never had such men on his farm before. Mr Currie drove out, at the same place, to a charming little farm, to see a man from Wapping, who was working on the farm.  He had a comfortable house, and received a little better wages than the two from Portsmouth. He met another man who had gone out from Scotland a few years ago, worked for a time on the quay for his brother, and is now a substantial farmer.  Mr Currie adds that he could take dozens of similar instances from his notebook of people there whose only anxiety was that friends and relations should join them.  There is plenty of room, he says, for mechanics who know every part of their trade, and he has met with many who were quite contented, such as house-carpenters, bricklayers, stone-masons, blacksmiths, and coopers, but these men took the first offer, and are now thriving at their own trades. Canada, he adds, will find a home for any person, accustomed to manual labour, who does not see his way clearly to provide for himself and a family in the old country, and is industrious and sober.  This year 5 720 persons have passed through the hands of Mr Donaldson, the Government emigration officer at Toronto, up to June 17, besides large numbers who had been sent direct to Hamilton and elsewhere. On the 9th of June according to replies to a circular sent out in the spring by the Minister of Agriculture to the various townships in Ontario, asking for a return of persons required those townships still wanted 7 229 labourers, 420 mechanics, and 3423 domestic servants.  Some of the townships did not reply to the circular, and those who did so probably asked for a much smaller number than they could really absorb.

This was the substance of Mr Currie’s report read to the meeting yesterday, and at its conclusion a cordial vote of thanks was accorded to him.

Mr Dixon, emigration agent of the Canadian government took occasion to say that it was now late in the season for farm labourers to emigrate, but that tailors, shoemakers, harnessmakers, blacksmiths, and cabinet makers were in request.

Mr White, emigration commissioner from Ontario, corroborated Mr Dixon in that respect, and said as the winter business was about to commence, that class of artisans, and especially cabinet makers, shoemakers and tailors might be absorbed to a very considerable extent.

Before the meeting separated, a cordial vote of thanks was passed to the Marquis of Westminster for a second munificent donation of £1000 to the fund.  By the first donation of £1000 the committee had been able to despatch 300 emigrants, and by the second 200 more would be sent out in September.

On the motion of Sir George Grey, a resolution was unanimously adopted, expressive of the gratitude of the meeting to the agents of the Canadian government for the facilities they had afforded Mr Currie in attaining the objects of his mission.

The meeting then separated.

Only Exclusive Menagerie on the Continent, Montreal, 1869

Montreal Gazette, 21 September 1869, page 4


500 wild beasts, birds and reptiles – including many specialties

Among which is

The only living giraffe in America

In Montreal for three days only – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

September 27th, 28th and 29th



Henry Barnum …… Manager

The Largest Exhibition in the known world.

This gigantic establishment contains the most varied – [illegible]

……  4gaz21sep1869

When We Are Ruled by Lady MPs, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 2 December 1919, page 4



Male visitor to House of Commons – Dear me! Why are the members irrespective of party, slapping, scratching and screaming at the leader of the Government?

His Membress (showing him around) – Oh! Because the mean thing has just proposed the closure to make them stop talking.

The pen that signed the treaty that ended the war, ad, 1919

Montreal Gazette, 7 August 1919, page 4

The pen that signed the Treaty that ended the war.

The war was modern in the extreme – even to the end.  Many of the representatives of the Allied Nations used Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pens to sign the Peace Treaty. Waterman’s played throughout the entire war and were strongly in evidence at the finish.

No 444, Heavily gold mounted Waterman’s Ideal Fountain pen, similar to the one used by the Hon David Lloyd George in signing the Peace Treaty.


Vanity’s Visions – Dancing and Dancing Dresses, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 15 March 1919


Dancing and Dancing Dresses

Because of its very direct bearing on that particular brand of the sartorial world pertaining to evening dress, it is impossible to ignore the varied opinions on the dancing craze that has set in everywhere.  There are some – almost that goes without saying – who are inclined to be severe on the obsession; others passing it over as merely transient social craze; while a third, and by far the larger number are putting forth strong arguments in favour of the modern dances. However the many discussions which dancing has aroused provides the most significant indication of the hold it has got on the social world. The modern girl, together with the modern young man, has a life today filled to the brim with varied interests, of which dancing is merely one of the many cogs in the wheel, and frankly accepted as such, it is difficult to find any sound ground for adverse criticism.


The one and only fly in the ointment, of course, is the arranging of a sufficiently varied evening wardrobe.  For the social world, is really not larger and the same people meet over and over again, and with all the will and desire to be sensible and consistent no girl cares to be seen over and over again presenting precisely the same appearance. And this is just where the clever and resourceful triumph over those incapable of evolving variety.  The idea of a separate underslip has been much developed recently.  The latest thought is one of white or black net embroidered to a considerable depth with a lace design in gold metal thread. Above the waist, only the lace is used, and over the whole there can be worn different dresses of tulle, or Georgette, or even brocade or soft satin.  For it is quite an accepted and charming decree to wear a filmy petticoat effect under tunic draperies of opaque material. A perfectly beautiful creation seen recently was of vellum-toned satin brocaded with a raised design in white, the skirt looped up at the one side and revealing a lining of tangerine satin and at the same time displaying a petticoat of gold lace.


Supremely attractive also are dance dresses almost entirely composed of metal lace, the skirt usually suggesting a deep flounce effect, the lowest flounce considerably narrower than those above.  That we are in for flounces, there is more than one indication.  Designers are kept busy endeavouring to create change and variety in evening gowns, and the very fastidious are obviously veering away from the straight sash type of corsage, while quite a number are frankly weary of the elongated sheath mode; although with the lovely beaded fabrics procurable it is a vogue that should not be permitted to pass lightly.  It is especially effective in moonlight sequin net allied with black charmeuse; also in opalescent sequins supplemented with white tulle.


There is wonderful variety to be found in the evening slippers seen this season.  Every phase of history apparently has contributed inspiration, from the Greek sandal upwards. A sandal effect is today obtained by using two materials and a multiplicity of instep straps, another charming evening shoe being composed of black velvet with vamp of brocade. A pair of gold and black striped shoes are adorned with a dainty butterfly, a delicate golden thing worked with emeralds and topaz. On another pair of silver and black brocade shoes there is a new plaque ornament in sealing wax red, set within a rim of dull silver and surmounted by a little fan-like frill of black tulle. There is no more welcome gift just now than a pair of rare and chaste shoe buckles, and a host of opportunities occur for spending money on the fancy.  Many recent brides have been the recipients of at least one pair of beautiful shoe buckles.

League of Nations cartoon, 1919

Montreal Standard, 2 August 1919, page 17


Quo Vadis?

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?

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: