Montreal Winter Carnival, February, 1887


Presented here is the official program of the Montreal Winter Carnival of 1887. Adorned with the first coat of arms of the city of Montreal, the program is a fine example of Victorian visual culture with its somewhat crowded yet elegant design, gold embellishments and floral motifs, and a shadow image of people wearing snowshoes, with the Ice Palace in the background. The program is a testament to the expansion of winter sports in Montreal, from curling to the toboggan to the still relatively new game of ice hockey. The first winter carnival in Montreal took place in 1883. The success of this winter sports celebration was also the inspiration for similar initiatives in other North American cities, such as Saint Paul, Minnesota, which began a winter carnival in 1886, and Quebec City, which did so in 1894. The four-page program, in English, lists the schedule of events for the morning, afternoon, and evening over a six-day period, Monday to Saturday, February 7‒12. Among the activities listed are the opening of the toboggan slides, skating tournaments, an appearance by a team of Esquimaux dogs and driver, a grand ball at the Windsor Hotel, and a concluding annual dinner with presentation of prizes, followed by a “grand pyrotechnic display” at the Ice Castle. The program notes the presence of “electric illumination,” still a novelty at that time.

Last updated: June 19, 2017