N-0000.193.157 | Laying the Monumental stone, marking the graves of 6000 immigrants, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859

 
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Photograph
Laying the Monumental stone, marking the graves of 6000 immigrants, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859
William Notman (1826-1891)
1859, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
7.3 x 7 cm
Gift of Mr. James Geoffrey Notman
N-0000.193.157
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  History (944) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Captured on this photograph is the blessing ceremony of a monument to the memory of British immigrants who died of typhus in 1846 and 1847 .

In a graveyard near the site where Victoria Bridge was built, lay the remains of some 6,000 British immigrants, mostly from Ireland, who died of typhus contracted during the crossing. Marked only by a cross on top of a single mound, the site was never desecrated during the construction of the bridge .

As the construction work was drawing to an end, workers, among them many British immigrants, expressed the wish that the site be protected by a fence and receive some marker honoring the memory of their countrymen. The monument was to be a huge granite boulder, weighing more than 30 tons and set on a 2-metre high pedestal .

  • What

    William Notman (1826-1891) made 500 copies of that photograph; benefits from the sale of those copies were used to build a school in the Pointe-Saint-Charles working class neighborhood.

  • Where

    The monument was erected near the entrance to Victoria Bridge, on top of the common grave of those who had died of typhus.

  • When

    The photograph was taken on December 5th, 1859, on the very day the monument was inaugurated .

  • Who

    William Notman (1826-1891), a photographer and shrewd businessman, received his first commission from the Grand Trunk Railway Company in 1858, for taking pictures of the construction of Victoria Bridge, viewed as an engineering masterpiece . This photograph is part of that project.