Mount Royal Park

Left: Tandem drive on Mount Royal Park, Montreal, QC. about 1890.

Right: Mount Royal Park, Montreal, QC. After Notman (VIEW-2551) Taken January 20th 2001 at 2:20 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: January 20, 2001, 2:20 p.m.

I scouted for the location of this celebratory winter scene many times, with no success. As it turned out I was misled by some information in a previous book about Notman. Long after I had given up I showed the photo to Nora Hague at the Notman Photographic Archives and she instantly told me where to look. It was a challenge to get my equipment up to the very top of Peel Street after a big January snowfall, but in the end, after days of scouting and hours in the cold, I was able to re-photograph one of my favorite Notman images.

Date/Time: January 20, 2001, 2:20 p.m.

I scouted for the location of this celebratory winter scene many times, with no success. As it turned out I was misled by some information in a previous book about Notman. Long after I had given up I showed the photo to Nora Hague at the Notman Photographic Archives and she instantly told me where to look. It was a challenge to get my equipment up to the very top of Peel Street after a big January snowfall, but in the end, after days of scouting and hours in the cold, I was able to re-photograph one of my favorite Notman images.

© 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.


For rich British visitors to Montreal at the end of the 19th century, a sleigh ride on the mountain was an experience not to be missed. Young people no doubt sometimes took advantage of the power of two horses hitched in tandem to give the romantic ride a more sporting flavour. Young men, and sometimes the more daring young women, would take the reins.

The sleigh driving is very much a sporting activity in this photo, since the sleigh is being driven by members of the Driving Club who are taking the very steep, zigzag route going up from the corner of Peel and Drummond streets. Everywhere on the mountain and in the city, Montrealers took advantage of the winter; they enjoyed themselves in various ways, according to their means, without necessarily participating in team sports or in activities organized by clubs.
For rich British visitors to Montreal at the end of the 19th century, a sleigh ride on the mountain was an experience not to be missed. Young people no doubt sometimes took advantage of the power of two horses hitched in tandem to give the romantic ride a more sporting flavour. Young men, and sometimes the more daring young women, would take the reins.

The sleigh driving is very much a sporting activity in this photo, since the sleigh is being driven by members of the Driving Club who are taking the very steep, zigzag route going up from the corner of Peel and Drummond streets. Everywhere on the mountain and in the city, Montrealers took advantage of the winter; they enjoyed themselves in various ways, according to their means, without necessarily participating in team sports or in activities organized by clubs.
Printed Documents
  • Bellman, David (ed.). 1977. Mont-Royal : Montréal / Mount Royal : Montreal. Montreal : Musée McCord.
  • Continuité : Le mont Royal, nature urbaine. 2001. Vol. 90 (Fall).
  • Laplante, Jean de. 1990. Les parcs de Montréal : Des origines à nos jours. Montreal : Éditions du Méridien.
  • Morton, W. L. 1970. Monk Letters and Journals, 1863-1868. Coll. « Carleton Library », no 52. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

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

Tobogganing slide

A few years after the official opening of Mount Royal Park, in 1876, a tobogganing slide was built in the centre of the mountain. This slide was for a long time the meeting place for the members of the Toboggan and Ski Club, while Montrealers living in the east end of the city made do with sledding or tobogganing on the slope on their side of the mountain.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1884
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25 x 20 cm
VIEW-1483
© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Winter fun.

January on Mount Royal. A large crowd of outdoors and sports enthusiasts, most from the well-to-do sections of the city, meet on the mountain to pursue their favourite activities. Some of them form clubs for snowshoe excursions, while others hurtle down the slope at breakneck speed. Occasionally more exceptional events, like ski-jumping competitions, are what draw the crowds. Elsewhere in the city, other winter enthusiasts can enjoy indoor and outdoor skating rinks.
Winter fun.

January on Mount Royal. A large crowd of outdoors and sports enthusiasts, most from the well-to-do sections of the city, meet on the mountain to pursue their favourite activities. Some of them form clubs for snowshoe excursions, while others hurtle down the slope at breakneck speed. Occasionally more exceptional events, like ski-jumping competitions, are what draw the crowds. Elsewhere in the city, other winter enthusiasts can enjoy indoor and outdoor skating rinks.

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

Ice Skates

Ice-skating, which has probably existed for more than 2000 years, likely originated in Scandinavia. It was a convenient means of getting around.

McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of the Air Canada Corporation
c. 1900-1910
Wood; metal
6.6 x 32.2 cm
M993.115.42.1-2
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Ice-skating was introduced to Canada about 1840 by officers of the British army, and this sports activity, which was perfectly adapted to the Nordic climate of Montreal quickly became popular. In fact, this sport is one of the first to be considered appropriate for women.

At first Montrealers skated on the river, on lakes and even on frozen fields, but outdoor municipal skating rinks became available to them beginning in 1850. The first indoor skating rink in the metropolis, the Victoria Skating Rink, would be built nine years later and quickly became the favourite recreational centre for the English-speaking elite of Montreal.

Because of rapid urbanization at the beginning of the 20th century, private skating rinks could no longer meet the demand. The City of Montreal would authorize the construction of outdoor rinks in public squares and park starting in 1900.
Ice-skating was introduced to Canada about 1840 by officers of the British army, and this sports activity, which was perfectly adapted to the Nordic climate of Montreal quickly became popular. In fact, this sport is one of the first to be considered appropriate for women.

At first Montrealers skated on the river, on lakes and even on frozen fields, but outdoor municipal skating rinks became available to them beginning in 1850. The first indoor skating rink in the metropolis, the Victoria Skating Rink, would be built nine years later and quickly became the favourite recreational centre for the English-speaking elite of Montreal.

Because of rapid urbanization at the beginning of the 20th century, private skating rinks could no longer meet the demand. The City of Montreal would authorize the construction of outdoor rinks in public squares and park starting in 1900.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Skiing Scene

Quebeckers first practised Nordic skiing, which combined cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Alpine skiing, which includes downhill and slalom, then gradually became established.

Edison Manufacturing co., USA (production)
Library of Congress (Washington) (Archives)
c. 1920
© Library of Congress (Washington) (Archives)


Quebeckers really began skiing during the last quarter of the 20th century.

The first mention of a ski excursion in Quebec appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News in 1879. A Norwegian immigrant, A. Birch, had then travelled the distance from Montreal to Quebec City on 3-metre long "Norwegian snowshoes." The practice of skiing, however, remained a curiosity. In 1887, the aide-de-camp of the Governor General of Canada, Frederick Hamilton, became the laughing stock of Ottawa because he took his first outings by ski.

A few daring snowshoers gradually became interested in skiing and the first ski clubs were founded - in Montreal, in 1904; in Quebec City and Toronto, in 1908; in Ottawa, in 1910. At the time, interest in skiing was mostly the result of the ski-jumping competitions in which Scandinavian immigrants took part.

Skiing really developed starting in the 1920s, after the creation of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association, the organization responsible for the promotion and monitoring of amateur skiing in Canada.
Quebeckers really began skiing during the last quarter of the 20th century.

The first mention of a ski excursion in Quebec appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News in 1879. A Norwegian immigrant, A. Birch, had then travelled the distance from Montreal to Quebec City on 3-metre long "Norwegian snowshoes." The practice of skiing, however, remained a curiosity. In 1887, the aide-de-camp of the Governor General of Canada, Frederick Hamilton, became the laughing stock of Ottawa because he took his first outings by ski.

A few daring snowshoers gradually became interested in skiing and the first ski clubs were founded - in Montreal, in 1904; in Quebec City and Toronto, in 1908; in Ottawa, in 1910. At the time, interest in skiing was mostly the result of the ski-jumping competitions in which Scandinavian immigrants took part.

Skiing really developed starting in the 1920s, after the creation of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association, the organization responsible for the promotion and monitoring of amateur skiing in Canada.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Snowshoes

This pair of snowshoes was made about 1880 for the Montreal Snowshoe Club, also called the Club de la Tuque Bleue.

Anonymous - Forêts de l'Est, Autochtone: Huron-Wendat
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mrs. M. E. Sylvia
c. 1880-1890
White ash wood, babiche, cotton (oil lamp wick), wool (tufts), metal (nails
4.5 x 29.6 x 91 cm
M984.102.1-2
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Snowshoeing was the most popular winter sport in Montreal during the 1870s and 1880s. Practised by Amerindians for practical purposes, under English influence, this activity became a recreational means of transportation.

Leaf-shaped snowshoes of this type were used in the 19th century by many snowshoe enthusiasts. This model, mainly manufactured and marketed by the Hurons, had the advantage of being adaptable to different types of terrain.

At the end of the 19th century, members of Montreal snowshoe clubs mostly took long outings on the paths of Mount Royal. The most intrepid might also take part in various events, such as sprints and obstacle races, which were organized every winter by the clubs along with other competitions.

The glory days of the snowshoe were short-lived. Beginning in the 1890s, a new winter sport was gaining popular favour: ice hockey.
Snowshoeing was the most popular winter sport in Montreal during the 1870s and 1880s. Practised by Amerindians for practical purposes, under English influence, this activity became a recreational means of transportation.

Leaf-shaped snowshoes of this type were used in the 19th century by many snowshoe enthusiasts. This model, mainly manufactured and marketed by the Hurons, had the advantage of being adaptable to different types of terrain.

At the end of the 19th century, members of Montreal snowshoe clubs mostly took long outings on the paths of Mount Royal. The most intrepid might also take part in various events, such as sprints and obstacle races, which were organized every winter by the clubs along with other competitions.

The glory days of the snowshoe were short-lived. Beginning in the 1890s, a new winter sport was gaining popular favour: ice hockey.

© 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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