MP-0000.1452.50 | Montreal wharves in winter, QC, 1865-75

Montreal wharves in winter, QC, 1865-75
Alexander Henderson
1865-1875, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
16 x 21 cm
Gift of Miss E. Dorothy Benson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Photograph (77678) , river (1486) , Waterscape (2986)
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Keys to History

Montreal's wharves are invisible here, buried under enormous slabs of ice. The stately edifice in the background, once the headquarters of the Royal Insurance Company, was acquired by the federal government in 1870 to house the customs offices. This building, with its clock tower, was an important landmark at the time.

Improvements were made to the port of Montreal in the latter half of the 19th century. More wharves were added and the basins were deepened. However, that did not solve the problem of the ice that threatened the port structures and filled the surrounding streets every winter and spring. The port commission recommended major infrastructure repairs and upgrading, but work did not get under way until 1896.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    The Royal Insurance Company building, with its squarish form and symmetrical façade, recalls the Venetian palazzo style.

  • Where

    The Royal Insurance Company building stood in the port of Montreal, on what is now Rue de la Commune.

  • When

    The Royal Insurance Company building was demolished in 1951, following a fire. Its forms are echoed in the design of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, which stands on the site today.

  • Who

    Alexander Henderson opened a photography studio in 1866. He specialized in landscapes and scenes of city life. He was also commissioned to take many photos of railroad installations.