Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover

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William Notman

William Notman was born on the 8th of March in Scotland and passed away in Montreal on November 25th 1891.

 

Photo credit

William Notman, photographer, Montréal, 1862
William Notman (1826-1891)
1862, 19 century
I-4498.1
© McCord Museum

 

 

 

 

Royal Montreal Golf Club, Montreal
Composite, 1882
Notman & Sandham
1919-1920, 20th century
View-18906
© McCord Museum

Montreal Snowshoe Club, Mount Royal, Montreal, Notman & Sandham
Composite, 1877
Notman & Sandham
1877, 19th century
II-44798.1
© McCord Museum

Tobogganing on Mount Royal Park slide, Montreal, 1885
Wm. Notman & Son
1885, 19th century
VIEW-1582
© McCord Museum

Skating Carnival, Victoria Rink, Montreal, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
Painted composite, 1870
1870, 19th century
Silver salts, oil on canvas - Albumen process
137 x 176 cm
Gift of Charles Frederick Notman
N-0000.68.1
© McCord Museum

Big John and party shooting Lachine Rapids, near Montreal
composite, 1878
Notman & Sandham
1878, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-50718
© McCord Museum

St. Andrew's Society Ball, Windsor Hotel, Montreal, 1878
Notman & Sandham
1879, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process, composite photograph
20 x 25 cm
II-51688
© McCord Museum

Montreal from Mount Royal, 1866
William Notman (1826-1891)
1866, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-21693.A.1
© McCord Museum

Montreal from Mount Royal, QC, 1911 (?)
Wm. Notman & Son
Probably 1911, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-4886
© McCord Museum
 

Montréal today
Andrew Dobrowolskyj
© Les amis de la montagne Collection

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Historic stroll in the footsteps of photographer William Notman

From the Chalet, take the path that leads to the large staircase. Before going down, turn left and continue along the Crags path to a small viewpoint.

From this bluff, there is an unobstructed view of downtown and the Saint Lawrence River.

The renowned photographer William Notman must have set up his tripod here, as have many photographers since. What remains of the things we can see in this photograph taken around 1911?

In the foreground, you can still see the square tower of Ravenscrag, the name of Sir Hugh Allan’s imposing residence. This mansion, built in 1863, contained thirty four richly decorated rooms. From the top of the tower, Hugh Allan could observe his ships entering the port of Montréal. The building was later willed to the Royal Victoria Hospital.


Hidden under the large flat field below us is the McTavish Reservoir, an important water reservoir built in 1875. Originally open to the elements, it was covered over in 1947.

Just behind it, you can see the campus of McGill University.
Even though over the past hundred years a number of buildings have been erected on the campus, many architectural and natural elements have been preserved. You can still see the roof of the Arts Building, constructed in 1837, topped by a small cupola.

On the right, the long copper roof of the Redpath Museum.

In the middle, a road lined with one-hundred-year-old trees still marks the entrance to McGill.

Otherwise, beyond the University campus, little of that era is still visible. Many bell towers, notably those of Notre-Dame Church in the distance, are now hidden from view by skyscrapers.

At the end of the road, on the other side of Sherbrooke Street, is the McCord Museum. There, you can discover the William Notman photo collection, an exceptional record of the history of the district and of the mountain.

Now, leave this bluff, go down the staircase and immerse yourself in this landscape, following in the footsteps of William Notman.