M975.62.65 | Courses au clocher, rond Lepine, Montreal

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Courses au clocher, rond Lepine, Montreal
Anonyme - Anonymous
1881, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
26.5 x 38 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Genre (188) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

What did velocipede contests, horse races and animal fights have in common? They were all demonstrations that drew large crowds, aroused passions and encouraged betting. Betting was such a craze that, for many spectators, it became more thrilling than the actual sporting events. Horse racing played a large part in the escalation of sports wagering. Contrary to healthy leisure pursuits and upper-class sports, racing and other demonstration events like cock and dog fights inflamed feelings and often got out of hand. Alcohol, wagers and brawls were commonplace, provoking loud public condemnation. Despite growing government regulation, pastimes of this sort thrived.

Colin D. Howell, Blood, Sweat, and Cheers: Sport and the Making of Modern Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 9-27

Alan Metcalfe, "The Evolution of Organized Physical Leisure in Montreal, 1840-1895", Social History/ Histoire sociale, vol. XI, no. 21 (May 1978), pp. 162-164

  • What

    Wicked pastimes like horse racing vied for popularity with socially acceptable, healthy sports.

  • Where

    Racetracks were built in many cities, often in several different neighbourhoods in the larger ones. For the businessmen that ran them, they generated quick profits.

  • When

    Horse races usually took place on Sunday, when most of the working class had the day off.

  • Who

    Despite public criticism, spectators from all social classes flocked to the horse races.