M930.50.1.589 | Emblem of The Quebec Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

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Emblem of The Quebec Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
4.7 x 4.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  emblem - medal - seal (491) , Print (10661) , Sign and symbol (2669)
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Keys to History

Philanthropists did not confine their activities to alleviating human misery: they also took up the cause of animals. The first Humane Society was founded in England in 1824. North American societies started up in the 1860s. A group of prominent Montreal philanthropists formed the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the first in Canada, in 1869. Among the concerns they addressed were the abuse of horses by employers like the Street Railway, the cruel treatment of livestock in transit to market, and the shooting of songbirds. As members of the city's elite, the SPCA leaders were able to use their commercial and political clout to ensure that existing animal protection legislation was improved and applied. They also developed educational campaigns and undertook practical reforms such as the installation of sufficient numbers of drinking troughs for horses and dogs. An animal shelter was opened in Montreal in 1912 and the number of paid inspectors increased over time as funds allowed.

  • What

    This seal was designed by the artist John Henry Walker (1831-1899) and used by many SPCA organisations, including those in Quebec City and Montreal. It shows the Angel of Mercy coming to the rescue of a fallen horse.

  • Where

    The Quebec City SPCA was founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1887.

  • When

    Philanthropic citizens formed Humane Societies in most major Canadian towns and cities in the 1870s and 1880s.

  • Who

    Humane Societies were private; funds for their work were generated through private subscriptions from members and supporters as well as from fund-raising events. They still exist today.