McTavish Street

Left:Looking down McTavish Street, Montreal, QC. About 1890

Right:McTavish Street, looking South from avenue Docteur Penfield. After Notman (VIEW 2444) February 20th, 2000 at 2:56 p.m.

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

© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Date/Time: February 20, 2000, 2:56 p.m.

I know when Notman took this photograph because of a very distinct shadow on the tower of the building to the left. To get my shot I had to wait for a sunny day with as much snow as possible. It took four tries before I found the right conditions. As usual I set up an hour before and waited for the shadows to fall into position. My vantage point was the south side of a very busy Docteur Penfield Avenue, and passing cars kept splashing mud on me and on my camera. St. James Cathedral - once dominating the skyline - is now hidden behind tall towers.
Date/Time: February 20, 2000, 2:56 p.m.

I know when Notman took this photograph because of a very distinct shadow on the tower of the building to the left. To get my shot I had to wait for a sunny day with as much snow as possible. It took four tries before I found the right conditions. As usual I set up an hour before and waited for the shadows to fall into position. My vantage point was the south side of a very busy Docteur Penfield Avenue, and passing cars kept splashing mud on me and on my camera. St. James Cathedral - once dominating the skyline - is now hidden behind tall towers.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Map

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

McCord Museum of Canadian History

© McCord Museum of Canadian History


A sleigh mounted on high runners coming down the hill on McTavish Street, near McGill University, at the end of 19th century. The coachman, who has either just dropped off passengers or is going to pick some up, has made sure to bring along a thick animal skin. This type of sleigh was the preferred mode of winter transportation for the inhabitants of this exclusive neighbourhood and their guests. The poles, wires and electric streetlamps are clues that Montreal had entered the new age of electricity. The electric tramway, introduced in 1892, would soon become the most popular mode of winter transportation for less affluent Montrealers.
A sleigh mounted on high runners coming down the hill on McTavish Street, near McGill University, at the end of 19th century. The coachman, who has either just dropped off passengers or is going to pick some up, has made sure to bring along a thick animal skin. This type of sleigh was the preferred mode of winter transportation for the inhabitants of this exclusive neighbourhood and their guests. The poles, wires and electric streetlamps are clues that Montreal had entered the new age of electricity. The electric tramway, introduced in 1892, would soon become the most popular mode of winter transportation for less affluent Montrealers.
Printed Documents
  • Pharand, Jacques. 1997. À la belle époque des tramways : Un voyage nostalgique dans le passé. Montreal : Éditions de l'Homme.
  • Rémillard, François, and Brian Merrett. 1986. Demeures bourgeoises de Montréal: Le mille carré doré, 1850-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Sleigh for hire

In this photo dating from about 1885, a sleigh is parked at Victoria Square waiting for clients - the nineteenth-century equivalent of today's taxis. Before the introduction of electric streetcars in 1892, the only other means of urban winter transportation was the horse-drawn tram, which was much less efficient.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.

Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
18 x 24 cm
VIEW-2218.1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Craig Street looking east from Bleury Street

Two men cross the street at the intersection of Craig and Bleury streets. In the background, there is an electric streetcar, which they might intend to take. Pedestrian crossings have been cleared between the snowbanks, which have been left there for some time.

Wallis & Shepherd
McCord Museum of Canadian History

Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 6 cm
MP-1979.22.64-D1
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Gittie up there!

The snow crackles under the runners of the horse-drawn sled, which is carrying a number of passangers. The coachman is wrapped up in his bearskin overcoat, hat and mittens. You had to have very warm clothes and accessories to ride on a sled like this. But not even a good overcoat, or a muff (to warm frozen fingers) or a foot-warmer on the floor of the sled always made it possible to avoid the worst-catching a nasty cold!
Gittie up there!

The snow crackles under the runners of the horse-drawn sled, which is carrying a number of passangers. The coachman is wrapped up in his bearskin overcoat, hat and mittens. You had to have very warm clothes and accessories to ride on a sled like this. But not even a good overcoat, or a muff (to warm frozen fingers) or a foot-warmer on the floor of the sled always made it possible to avoid the worst-catching a nasty cold!

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

Sleigh

Sleighs with high runners first became popular in Montreal and the surrounding villages.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mrs. Anne Beaulieu

116 x 100 x 174 cm
M21647
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


This type of sleigh, with its high runners, was used mostly for outings.

It became fashionable towards the middle of the 19th century, at the expense of vehicles with wide, low runners. Built on high, openwork runners, this sleigh was much lighter and faster.

In addition, the height of the runners kept the box - the body of the vehicle - from touching the ground. Therefore the sleigh caused less damage to the roads than low vehicles, which scraped the snow-covered surface. The quality of roads at the time was so bad that the government issued various regulations to encourage people to use vehicles with high runners.
This type of sleigh, with its high runners, was used mostly for outings.

It became fashionable towards the middle of the 19th century, at the expense of vehicles with wide, low runners. Built on high, openwork runners, this sleigh was much lighter and faster.

In addition, the height of the runners kept the box - the body of the vehicle - from touching the ground. Therefore the sleigh caused less damage to the roads than low vehicles, which scraped the snow-covered surface. The quality of roads at the time was so bad that the government issued various regulations to encourage people to use vehicles with high runners.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Hat, gloves and cape

Many fur merchants had stores in downtown Montreal. In 1873, for example, John Reiplingter advertised as a merchant and manufacturer of sleigh clothes made of bear and wolf fur.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mr. Jack Walker
c. 1875-1900
M976.90.1-4
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


During cold spells, Montreal coachmen sometimes wore bearskin clothing. Sitting on a raised seat on the front of the sleigh, they were very exposed to the elements.

The passengers wore various kinds of fur clothing to protect themselves from the cold. The favourite furs were bear, moose and buffalo, since they were the warmest.

In the 19th century, the coachmen were the equivalent of today’s taxi drivers. However, they did not have a very good reputation since they were said to be proud and reckless on the roads. They were criticized for disturbing public order because they tended to gather in public places.
During cold spells, Montreal coachmen sometimes wore bearskin clothing. Sitting on a raised seat on the front of the sleigh, they were very exposed to the elements.

The passengers wore various kinds of fur clothing to protect themselves from the cold. The favourite furs were bear, moose and buffalo, since they were the warmest.

In the 19th century, the coachmen were the equivalent of today’s taxi drivers. However, they did not have a very good reputation since they were said to be proud and reckless on the roads. They were criticized for disturbing public order because they tended to gather in public places.

© 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.

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