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M979.87.15A
© McCord Museum
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LA GRANDE FETE NATIONALE DES 24-25 JUIN 1874, A MONTREAL. LA PROCESSION PASSANT DANS LA RUE ST. JACQUES.
Henry Sandham
1874, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
40 x 27.7 cm
Gift of Charles deVolpi
M979.87.15A
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The illustration depicts the annual parade along St. James Street in Montreal in honour of the patron saint St. John the Baptist, whose nativity is remembered on June 24 in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints. The parade was organized by the St-Jean-Baptiste Society, a French Canadian patriotic association founded in 1843 by the newspaper editor Ludger Duvernay.

In the 19th century, the Catholic Church was involved in most of the rituals surrounding the celebration of St-Jean-Baptiste Day. In the morning, church bells rang out inviting the faithful to the special mass in honour of the saint. During the parade, religious symbols and groups had a place of prominence. And in the evening, as the parishoners sat down to holiday dinners and the lighting of the bonfires, the priests were there to bless the activities, and to watch over the members of their flock.

What:

The parade, organized annually by the St-Jean-Baptiste Society, was a popular demonstration of the group's support for nationalist, linguistic and constitutional matters in Quebec.

Where:

The parade is shown proceeding along St. James Street, in the heart of Montreal's financial district.

When:

The celebration of June 24 was originally associated with ancient rituals related to the summer solstice and agrarian feasts that marked the start of summer.

Who:

On June 24, 1834, during a banquet of prominent members of the Parti patriote, the newspaper editor Ludger Duvernay first had the idea to create a national holiday for French Canadians, to be celebrated each year on June 24.

© Musée McCord Museum