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© McCord Museum
Nelsons Monument.
John Hugh Ross
About 1895, 19th century
35.1 x 26.2 cm
Gift of Mrs. F. R. Terroux
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Erected in 1809, the Nelson Column on Place Jacques-Cartier is Canada's earliest public monument.

British Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), who defeated Napoleon's fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, died from his wounds soon after on board of his ship, the Victory . In Montreal, news of his victory and death were announced during a ball attended by some of the city's prominent citizens of British descent. A committee was created to raise the funds for a monument to honor the new hero.

Celebrating the victory of the British Empire over the values of the French Revolution, the monument, with its strong symbolic and emotional charge, has been a source of controversy among Montrealers ever since it was built.


The statue and the decorative elements are made of artificial stone from the Coade & Sealy factory. The column itself is of Canadian natural stone.


The Nelson Monument was erected in 1809 right in the middle of one of the city's most animated district, the Marché Neuf.


As early as 1826 measures had to be taken to protect the column. The monument underwent restoration work several times, in 1851, 1871, 1900 and 1934. Finally, it was found to be in such poor condition that it was replaced in 1978 by a natural stone copy.


British architect Robert Mitchell drew the plans for the Nelson Monument.

© Musée McCord Museum