VIEW-1337 | Carnival, Montreal, QC, composite, 1884

Carnival, Montreal, QC, composite, 1884
Wm. Notman & Son
1884, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process, composite photograph
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Art (2774) , composite (312) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Time-off for the Holidays

The new conception of time gave rise to a desire among the elite for vacations - time off for relaxation and self-renewal. Although vacations were initially associated mostly with the summer season, there was growing interest in the idea of winter breaks. It was in this context that some Montrealers organized a winter festival inspired by traditional carnival celebrations. The project, spearheaded by businessmen seeking a way to stimulate economic activity during the slow winter months, called for a week of sports events and other activities designed to attract rich American tourists. Thus, between 1883 and 1889, Montreal hosted a celebrated carnival that represented, for both tourists and the local elite, a time of great permissiveness and escape in an era when social conventions were both numerous and strictly enforced.

  • What

    The simulated attack on the monumental ice palace at the centre of this composite photograph was the high point at Montreal's winter carnival.

  • Where

    Carnival events were held at different locations in Montreal: the public squares, on the ice of the St. Lawrence River, the grounds of McGill University and at various sports clubs.

  • When

    Montreal's carnival was held for only a few years: in 1883, 1884, 1885, 1887 and 1889.

  • Who

    The carnival was organized and attended largely by the elite of Montreal society, that is, mostly by Anglophones, but also by some Francophones.