II-24694.1 | Mrs. Dr. Hingston as "A Lady of the Time of James V," Montreal, QC, 1876

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Mrs. Dr. Hingston as "A Lady of the Time of James V," Montreal, QC, 1876
William Notman (1826-1891)
1876, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Beyond mere amusement, fancy dress balls could serve higher aims. Mrs. Dr. Hingston, wife of the mayor of Montreal, is seen here as she appeared at the fancy dress ball held by the Governor General, the Earl of Dufferin, in the Rideau Hall ballroom on February 23, 1876. The Earl came as "James V of Scotland," and his entourage took inspiration from the same period. Mrs. Hingston was part of the viceregal party, which also included the Prime Minister and his wife. She portrayed "A Lady of the Period of James V," in a dress of emerald green satin over a white satin petticoat and green velvet cap trimmed with white feathers.

This was the largest fancy dress ball held in this country to date. Eight hundred guests attended, including all of Ottawa's social élite and the families of politicians from across the country. The ball was written up in New York and London papers. It accomplished Dufferin's aim of putting Ottawa on the map as a capital city with social prestige.

Toronto Globe, 24 February 1876.

Henry James Morgan, Types of Canadian Women and Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada (Toronto: Briggs, 1903), p. 159.

Ball given by Lord Dufferin. Governor-General's dress ball held at Rideau Hall [photograph]. [on line]

Jack Cohen, MD, "Sir William Hingston," Canadian Journal of Surgery 39 (1996): 422-27 [on line].

  • What

    Mrs. Hingston's dress was no doubt made by a dressmaker, solely for this occasion.

  • Where

    In 1876 Ottawa was Canada's very young capital, and the Earl of Dufferin undertook to raise its profile through his lavish entertaining.

  • When

    The Earl of Dufferin was Canada's governor general from 1872 to 1878.

  • Who

    Margaret Macdonald, daughter of the lieutenant-governor of Ontario, had married Montreal's mayor, Dr. William Hales Hingston, only six months before attending this ball. Hingston was one of Canada's foremost surgeons of the period, was knighted in 1895 and called to the Senate in 1896.