March 30, 2016

Labrador and Anticosti. Travel Journal, History, Topography, Canadian and Acadian Fishermen, Montagnais Indians

Labrador et Anticosti. Journal de voyage, histoire, topographie, pêcheurs canadiens et acadiens, indiens montagnais (Labrador and Anticosti. Travel journal, history, topography, Canadian and Acadian Fishermen, Montagnais Indians) is the account, illustrated by many photographs, of a two-month journey in the region known today as Côte-Nord, undertaken by churchman and naturalist Victor-Alphonse Huard (1853–1929) in 1895. This vast area is located in Quebec, a few hundred kilometers northeast of Quebec City. During his travels, Huard developed relationships with elders, lighthouse keepers, missionaries, and other people he met that allowed him to write the histories of the communities with which he came into contact. Huard also devoted a large section of his book to the life of the Innu, a Native American people also known as Montagnais, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. The book offers technical descriptions of cod, salmon, herring, and sea-bass fishing, as well as game hunting, and offers a unique perspective on the populations and economic activities of this peripheral region. The book contains a detailed table of contents and a fold-out map of the region of Labrador and Anticosti. Huard was a Roman Catholic priest, professor, school administrator, naturalist, author, editor, and museum curator. As a scholar he was known primarily as a natural scientist who wrote numerous books and articles in entomology and other fields.

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.

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.

Freshwater Fish of Canada

André-Napoléon Montpetit (1840–98) was an author, a journalist, and the father of economist and professor Édouard Montpetit. An avid angling enthusiast, Montpetit showed exceptional talent for observing fish, their behaviors, and their habitats. This work, which is specific to Quebec, illustrates the author’s rich empirical knowledge as well as his familiarity with the works about fish of European and North American naturalists. Elegantly written, the book was praised both by fishermen and naturalists alike. It includes fine prints, several of which are in color, and an index. The book begins with an introductory chapter that discusses such topics as size and shape, spawning and reproduction, the different parts of the body, respiration and circulation of the blood, and even such topics as whether fish can make sounds and their level of intelligence. This is followed by chapters on the various freshwater fishes of Canada, including bream, carp, eel, perch, sturgeon, salmon, trout, and many others. Throughout, the book provides advice on how to catch the various types of fish, including the bait, lures, lines, hooks, nets, and methods to be used.

A Wandering Canadian

Engraved on a wax cylinder around 1905, this rendition by Joseph Saucier (1869‒1941) and an accompanying orchestra is one of the oldest known recordings of Un Canadien errant (A wandering Canadian), a folk song written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie and sung to the tune of J’ai fait une maîtresse (I have found a mistress). With the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837‒38 as its theme, the song became one of the most popular songs of the late 1800s in French Canada. It has been recorded on many occasions ever since. This phonograph cylinder is part of the collection of Jean-Jacques Schira. The precursor to the disc record, the phonographic cylinder was the earliest medium for audio recording and listening. Born in Montreal, Saucier was a Canadian baritone and choirmaster who trained as a pianist with his father before choosing to pursue a career as a singer.  He performed as a soloist at different churches in Canada and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, studied voice in Paris, and performed to audiences in France, Britain, and the United States. He was the organist and choirmaster at St.-Louis du Mile-End Church in Montréal and later choirmaster at St.-Louis-de-France Church. He is believed to have been the first French Canadian singer to make a recording in Canada, which he did circa 1904, at around the time this recording was made.

Montreal, Old and New: Entertaining, Convincing, Fascinating. A Unique Guide for the Managing Editor

Montreal, Old and New: Entertaining, Convincing, Fascinating. A Unique Guide for the Managing Editor is a tribute to the city of Montreal, which in 1915, when the book was published, was the sixth largest city on the North American continent. A large series of construction projects had just been completed that year in the part of the city now known as Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal). The impressive new office buildings gave the city a very modern look. The book offers more than 1,000 print and photographic images of Montreal buildings and public figures. Much of the book is taken up by photographs and short biographies of the city’s leading citizens. The book has ten chapters, which cover such topics as the founding and early history of the city; Montreal as an “imperial” city of great economic and commercial importance to Canada; the history of the city’s important streets and thoroughfares; the commercial development of the city; the Montreal of 100 years earlier; religious and social life; Montreal’s educational system; the City of Maisonneuve (a relatively new municipality located to the east of the city); musical and dramatic life; and the learned professions in the city.