Montreal 5th Annual Winter Carnival and Ice Palace Fete, 1889


This chromolithograph advertises the Montreal Winter Carnival of 1889. It features a man on snowshoes holding a banner. The carnival is billed as “a frosty frolic.” In the background can be seen the Ice Palace, a prominent feature of the carnivals, with fireworks in the sky overhead and people tobogganing, skiing, and skating in the foreground. Purchased in 2007 by the National Library and Archives of Quebec at an auction in New York City, this remarkable poster is a graphic testimony to the large publicity effort that took place prior to the winter carnival. American transportation and media companies were eager to gain publicity and profits from the event, as were local public figures, business people, city officials, and sports clubs. A great example of the technical skills possessed by American Bank Note Company, the poster advertises the small, 56-kilometer Concord Railroad in New Hampshire. The Montreal Winter Carnival changed the way winter was perceived in Quebec. It sought to attract visitors to the city in the heart of the winter, a season they had otherwise avoided. From 1883 to 1889, five such carnivals were organized. A smallpox epidemic caused a break in 1886 and the withdrawal of financing by the train companies caused a cancellation in 1888. Highly publicized, the carnival was attended by a large number of American tourists. Special trains were chartered for the event and discount train tickets were offered.

Last updated: March 30, 2016