Pastimes of Yesteryear, 1840-1867
Engraving of Champ de Mars, Montreal, QC, 1869
William Notman (1826-1891)
1869, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
10 x 13.7 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Art (2774) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
Urban leisure opportunities also grew with the emergence of sports, many of them popularized by the heavy British military presence in garrison cities like Halifax, Toronto and Montreal. Recurring threats of war and conflict in the 19th century forced Great Britain to maintain troops in its colonies into the late 1860s. With little to do, these men, especially the officers, found sports a good way to stay fit and pass the time. This fostered public interest in lacrosse, cricket, snowshoeing, skating and other physical pursuits.
Originally designed as a military parade ground, the Champ de Mars esplanade was also Montreal's first public park.
Located at the base of the old fortifications, in what is now known as Old Montreal, the Champ de Mars faced away from the city in the early 1800s. It is now backed by City Hall, built in the 1870s.
The Champ de Mars was laid out in the early 19th century, at the time Montreal's fortified walls were torn down to allow the city to expand.
In nice weather, Montrealers liked to gather on the Champ de Mars to watch the military drills and enjoy the magnificent view of the suburbs (now the heart of downtown).