M15934.18 | Shoving of ice upon wharves in front of Montreal

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Shoving of ice upon wharves in front of Montreal
Anonyme - Anonymous
1860, 19th century
Coloured ink on paper
42.2 x 58.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cityscape (3948) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

In his book entitled Construction of the Great Victoria Bridge in Canada, which was published in London in 1860, the engineer James Hodges describes the phenomenon of the spring break-up of ice on the Saint Lawrence River:

"By the middle of March the sun becomes very powerful at mid-day, which, with the warm heavy rains, so affects the ice as to make it rotten, or, as it is usually called "honey-combed;" and when it is in this state, a smart blow from any sharp-pointed instrument will cause a block, even though three feet thick, to fall into thousands of pieces, as if it was composed of millions of crystallised reeds placed vertically. "

"The ice when it becomes thus weakened is easily broken up by the winds, particularly in places where, from the great depth of water in the lakes, they do not entirely freeze over. This ice, coming down over the rapids, thickens the water, and causes a rise of the river, as in early winter. The weakened fields of ice then begin to break up, and in a few days the river becomes free, excepting upon the wharves and some particular parts of the shore, where shovings may have taken place. In these places ice may be seen for many weeks. When the lake ice comes down before that in the river and its lower basins becomes rotten, great "shovings" take place, resulting in jambs, and the consequent rise of the water level. "

Exerpt from James Hodges, Construction of the Great Victoria Bridge in Canada, 1860, John Weale, London, p. 7-8.