P001-D02_10-416.1 | List of toasts, opening of the Victoria Bridge

List of toasts, opening of the Victoria Bridge
1859, 19th century
Ink on paper
12.7 x 23.3 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Program (3)
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Keys to History

By the 1850s, institutions like McGill University, Christ Church, the Mount Royal Cemetery and the Montreal General Hospital signalled the strength of English Montreal. The completion of the Victoria Bridge in 1859 was the occasion for a banquet in which British institutions could be celebrated. Customary toasts to the Queen and Prince of Wales were followed by toasts to the Grand Trunk and its engineers, contractor and staff. The ladies in attendance were not forgotten: their toast took place to the tune of "Here's a health to all good lasses."

Source : Confederation: The Creation of Canada [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    Toasting, or drinking in honour of a person or event, is a social tradition that encourages respect and social harmony. Fourteen toasts with musical accompaniment were proposed at the opening of the bridge.

  • Where

    The opening of the bridge had two formal occasions: the laying of the last brick on the Montreal side, and at the centre of the bridge, where the Prince drove the last rivet. Six hundred people were invited to a banquet held in a specially decorated railway shed following the opening.

  • When

    The opening occupied most of the day of Saturday, August 25, 1860. The Prince's only obligation on the following day was an Anglican church service.

  • Who

    Canadians, and Montrealers in particular, had often been fractured by ethnic and religious divisions. The opening of the bridge, the role of the Crown and toasts of friendship and honour were all means of unifying the country.