M969.81 | Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, Victoria Bridge, now constructing across the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, QC
Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, Victoria Bridge, now constructing across the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, QC
1854, 19th century
Ink and watercolour on paper - Lithography, hand-coloured
38.2 x 80.5 cm
Purchase from Mason and Woods Christie
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Print (10661)
Keys to History
Ferries were the main link between the South Shore and Montreal before the construction of the bridge. Steamers also went back and forth beginning in 1832. In the winter, when the river was frozen, roads were built on the ice.
The Victoria Bridge (built on 24 piers and 2790 m long) was the first to link the two shores of the St. Lawrence at Montreal. Considered to be a "vital link," it would place a key role in the development of Montreal and contributed for a long time to the economic expansion of Quebec and Canada. Open all year long, this exclusively railway bridge provided at that time an outlet to the ocean thanks to 1395 km of the Grand Trunk line that linked Sarnia (Ontario) and Portland (Maine).
This lithograph of the Victoria Bridge was produced in October 1854 from the engineers' plans. The general appearance of the bridge is close to what would be built, although the exaggeration of certain details betrays the imagination of the artist S. Russel.
Located upstream from the port, the bridge did not need to be very high since no high-masted ships went underneath.
After the plans for the bridge were completed in 1853, several sketches were produced by artists and published in the newspapers. This lithograph was printed in October 1854 in London.
John Young (1811-1878), a Scottish businessman active in imports and exports, was one of the first to promote the idea of the Victoria Bridge. In 1852, he was appointed chief commissioner of Public Works.