Mount Royal Park

Left:In Mount Royal Park, Montreal, QC. about 1900

Right: Mount Royal Park. Looking North from ski lift. Montreal, QC. After Notman (View-3366) Taken September 13th 2000 at 1:35 p.m.

Photographers: Left: William Notman, Right: Andrzej Maciejewski
McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Date/time: September 13, 2000, 1:25 p.m.

I like the idyllic Sunday scene Notman captured in this photograph. I tried to replicate it in my photograph by catching people doing modern Sunday activities. To locate the exact spot I walked around the park in search of a building with two chimneys. The building is still in the same place and is now a tourist information centre. From this landmark I walked south until the perspective appeared the same, although the road I took seemed wrong at first. As I was shooting I spoke to an older man who assured me that indeed the road used to turn in the other direction.
Date/time: September 13, 2000, 1:25 p.m.

I like the idyllic Sunday scene Notman captured in this photograph. I tried to replicate it in my photograph by catching people doing modern Sunday activities. To locate the exact spot I walked around the park in search of a building with two chimneys. The building is still in the same place and is now a tourist information centre. From this landmark I walked south until the perspective appeared the same, although the road I took seemed wrong at first. As I was shooting I spoke to an older man who assured me that indeed the road used to turn in the other direction.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Map

This Map of Montreal depicts the location where the photographs by Notman and Maciejewski were taken.

McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Opened in 1876, mostly through the efforts of the wealthy Montrealers who then lived on the slopes of the mountain, Mount Royal Park, seen here around 1900, was very well suited to outdoor activities: picnics, walks, etc. Working-class people from neighbourhoods farther away from the new park would for many years prefer other big parks that had been laid out in a similar style, particularly St. Helen's Island and Lafontaine Park. Sohmer Park, which was very popular and more urban, was distinguished by its varied musical activities. Many people went there to relax on Sunday, after a hard, long week at work.

Opened in 1876, mostly through the efforts of the wealthy Montrealers who then lived on the slopes of the mountain, Mount Royal Park, seen here around 1900, was very well suited to outdoor activities: picnics, walks, etc. Working-class people from neighbourhoods farther away from the new park would for many years prefer other big parks that had been laid out in a similar style, particularly St. Helen's Island and Lafontaine Park. Sohmer Park, which was very popular and more urban, was distinguished by its varied musical activities. Many people went there to relax on Sunday, after a hard, long week at work.
Printed Documents
  • Bellman, David (ed.). 1977. Mont-Royal : Montréal / Mount Royal : Montreal. Montréal : Musée McCord.
  • Continuité : Le mont Royal, nature urbaine. 2001. Vol. 90 (Fall).
  • Lamonde, Yvan, and Raymond Montpetit. 1986. Le Parc Sohmer de Montréal, 1889-1919 : Un lieu populaire de culture urbaine. Quebec City: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture.
  • Laplante, Jean de. 1990. Les parcs de Montréal : Des origines à nos jours. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.
  • Marsan, Jean-Claude. 1994. Montréal en évolution : Historique du développement de l'architecture et de l'environnement urbain montréalais. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Mount Royal Park Road

Family outing on Mount Royal, about 1900.

Wallis & Shepherd
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
c. 1900
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
6 x 8 cm
MP-1979.22.114
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


A summer afternoon on the mountain.

By car or on foot, people wander along the paths of Mount Royal, designed a few years earlier by the celebrated American Frederick Law Olmsted. Some carry picnic baskets so that they can “dine out.” Others enjoy a magnificent view of the city after riding up to the summit aboard the funicular. All of these people wore the requisite clothing and accessories: young women kept their peachy complexions under sun umbrellas, while young boys from good families wore their sailor suits with great pride.
A summer afternoon on the mountain.

By car or on foot, people wander along the paths of Mount Royal, designed a few years earlier by the celebrated American Frederick Law Olmsted. Some carry picnic baskets so that they can “dine out.” Others enjoy a magnificent view of the city after riding up to the summit aboard the funicular. All of these people wore the requisite clothing and accessories: young women kept their peachy complexions under sun umbrellas, while young boys from good families wore their sailor suits with great pride.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Sailor Suit

This child's sailor suit was inspired by Great Britain's Royal Navy, which in the 19th century, was a source of national British pride and the most powerful navy in the world.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mrs. Victor Ledain
c. 1890-1900
M966.159.26.1-6
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The sailor suit is an example of people emulating a fashion first worn by members of the Royal Family.

In the 19th century, The Royal Family may have wanted to instil a sense of patriotism and national pride in their country by dressing the young Prince Edward VII (1840-1910), the eldest son of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in a version of Great Britain’s Royal Navy uniform. In 1846 the Prince had his portrait painted while wearing the sailor suit and once the portrait was reproduced in the popular press, mothers of all walks of life hurried to dress their little boys like the Prince, making the sailor suit a very popular fashion for boys in the 19th century.

The sailor suit was intended as casual wear, but it is still made up of many different parts. An adult would have needed to help the boy dress, buttoning on the collar and cuffs, and fastening the top to the pants.
The sailor suit is an example of people emulating a fashion first worn by members of the Royal Family.

In the 19th century, The Royal Family may have wanted to instil a sense of patriotism and national pride in their country by dressing the young Prince Edward VII (1840-1910), the eldest son of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in a version of Great Britain’s Royal Navy uniform. In 1846 the Prince had his portrait painted while wearing the sailor suit and once the portrait was reproduced in the popular press, mothers of all walks of life hurried to dress their little boys like the Prince, making the sailor suit a very popular fashion for boys in the 19th century.

The sailor suit was intended as casual wear, but it is still made up of many different parts. An adult would have needed to help the boy dress, buttoning on the collar and cuffs, and fastening the top to the pants.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Picnic Basket

This basket and its contents were manufactured in Great Britain during the first half of the 20th century, but they were used in the Montreal region.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mrs. F. W. Cowie
c. 1915-1940
31 x 58 x 15.5 cm
M975.79.1A
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


In the early 20th century, the picnic was an activity enjoyed by both the well-to-do and less wealthy citizens.

Montrealers picnicked in the public parks, particularly on Mount Royal and on St. Helen's Island, beginning in the 19th century. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the tramway that reached certain suburbs, it was becoming easier to picnic outside the city.

Many charitable organizations, associations and trade guilds then began to regularly organize big picnics, thus imitating the ways of the British middle-class and aristocracy, which had taken up this rural activity long before. The picnics, which mostly took place on Sunday, often began with a procession. Loaded down with baskets full of food, people went in groups to the site of the festivities where they ate their meals sitting on the grass or at tables before taking part in all kinds of games and competitions.
In the early 20th century, the picnic was an activity enjoyed by both the well-to-do and less wealthy citizens.

Montrealers picnicked in the public parks, particularly on Mount Royal and on St. Helen's Island, beginning in the 19th century. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the tramway that reached certain suburbs, it was becoming easier to picnic outside the city.

Many charitable organizations, associations and trade guilds then began to regularly organize big picnics, thus imitating the ways of the British middle-class and aristocracy, which had taken up this rural activity long before. The picnics, which mostly took place on Sunday, often began with a procession. Loaded down with baskets full of food, people went in groups to the site of the festivities where they ate their meals sitting on the grass or at tables before taking part in all kinds of games and competitions.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Plan of Mount Royal Park

In 1872, as the landscaping project was starting, 16 properties located around the site were expropriated . The plan shows some properties that could not be expropriated, such as those of David Ross McCord, John Molson and Hugh Allan .



When city commissioners called on Olmsted, he had already designed nine major urban parks in the U.S., including the one in New York.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Hardwood Heritage
c. 1880
Ink on paper - Photolithography
38 x 61 cm
M992.22.2
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


This plan of Mount Royal Park, attributed to Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), was completed in 1877, one year after the inauguration of the park . Olmsted had been commissioned to design the landscape of Mount Royal Park. This renowned American landscape architect had already created, among other works, New York's Central Park . In Canada he had a marked influence on the design of several large urban parks .

Human needs and the often-polluted urban environment were major concerns for Olmsted , who believed parks of that type were extremely beneficial to the health of city-dwellers, as they could go there to breath some clean air .

On Mount Royal, Olmsted wanted to highlight the differences in natural features between each area of the mountain . While preserving the site's natural look, he managed to disguise its imperfections . Moreover, inspired by British ideas on park landscaping, he used wide lawns, gentle slopes and clusters of trees, bushes and flowers .
This plan of Mount Royal Park, attributed to Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), was completed in 1877, one year after the inauguration of the park . Olmsted had been commissioned to design the landscape of Mount Royal Park. This renowned American landscape architect had already created, among other works, New York's Central Park . In Canada he had a marked influence on the design of several large urban parks .

Human needs and the often-polluted urban environment were major concerns for Olmsted , who believed parks of that type were extremely beneficial to the health of city-dwellers, as they could go there to breath some clean air .

On Mount Royal, Olmsted wanted to highlight the differences in natural features between each area of the mountain . While preserving the site's natural look, he managed to disguise its imperfections . Moreover, inspired by British ideas on park landscaping, he used wide lawns, gentle slopes and clusters of trees, bushes and flowers .

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify the changes that were operated within Canadian society over two decades (territory, population, economy, etc.);
  • Describe in details changes that he/she is able to observe;
  • Explain and speculate about the reasons that could justify these changes;
  • Make connections between the differences and similarities of the two eras.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans