I-10825.1 | Hugh Allan, Montreal, QC, 1864

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Hugh Allan, Montreal, QC, 1864
William Notman (1826-1891)
1864, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
8.5 x 5.6 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Sir Hugh Allan (1810-1882), like so many of the important figures in the history of the CPR, was Scottish. Born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, the son of a shipmaster, he immigrated to Canada in 1826 and made a fortune in shipping. By 1870 he was reputed to be the richest man in the country, and he was knighted in 1871. The next year the government of Sir John A. Macdonald awarded him a contract to build the railway to the Pacific Ocean, but the 1873 revelation that Allan had given Macdonald's party a large sum of money led to the "Pacific Scandal" and the defeat of Macdonald's government. Allan was shut out of the contracts when the CPR was eventually built.

  • What

    This steely-eyed gentleman is Sir Hugh Allan, the great Scottish-Canadian shipping magnate, photographed in Montreal, the headquarters of his commercial empire.

  • Where

    It is said that Ravenscrag, Sir Hugh Allan's great mansion in Montreal, was inspired by the country home of the Marquis of Lorne in Ayrshire, Scotland, also called Ravenscrag.

  • When

    The portrait was made in 1864 when Allan was fifty-four, seven years before his knighthood was conferred.

  • Who

    Allan is usually portrayed as the corrupt villain of the "Pacific Scandal" of 1873, but he was also a great pioneer in the field of transatlantic shipping.