Saturday, March 23, 2013

SEPIA SATURDAY (154)

This week on Sepia Saturday
the prompt picture suggests something about 
Washington, cherry blossoms, thus Springtime and heroic photographers. 
Since Springtime has [finally] arrived [according only to the calendar, not the weather, yet...], 
I figured I'd speak of Montreal [as usual] in a not so bucolic Springtime setting. 
Tag along for the ride!!! 
:)~


Would you ride a train running on tracks 
laid on the ice cover of a river? 
That's what some folks did between 1880 to 1883, 
thanks to Louis-Adelard Senecal
businessman, politician and superintendant of the Quebec, Ottawa & Occidental railroad, 
who created the Compagnie de Traverse de Chemin de Fer d'Hochelaga a Longueuil in 1880
Operations ceased when the Grand Trunk Railway finally authorized other train companies 
to use the Victoria Bridge
opened since 1859 and connecting the Montreal to its south shore. 
That bridge will eventually get its own post here. 
You'll love it, 
I m sure!! 
In the meantime, 
you still haven't answered my question: 
Would you ride a train running on tracks 
laid on the ice cover of a river? 


While folks here looked carefree and glad for the ride, 
let it be known that in 1881
i.e. in its second winter, 
the ice suddenly gave way under the locomotive, 
barely leaving enough time for the crew and passengers to flee 
before it sank to the bottom of the river.


But traveling across the river was nothing new, 
as you can see here in 1870
the St-Lambert's Road
crossing the St-Lawrence River 
to mainly connect to the markets in Montreal
As soon as the ice was thick enough, 
a 10-meter wide road was leveled and marked along the route for safety. 


I went to Old Montreal this week, 
on the first [official] day of Spring actually, 
to take recent pictures. 
This panoramic view needs to be opened in another tab so you can enjoy the full size version. 
You'll recognized the Clock Tower which I've previously discussed here and here
St- Helen Island, discussed here
MY bridge, discussed here and here
and the Molson Brewery making an appearance on the left.


Seen from this angle, 
you get a better view of the river, 
and in this age of global warming
you'll perhaps better understand my amazement 
at the idea that there was a time when a train rode the ice cover of the St Lawrence River
This would be unthinkable nowadays... 
but they did operate for four seasons, 
from December until April when the ice broke. 
As you can see, 
now there is no ice to speak of already in mid-March...


What you see here is a scene dating back around 1865-75
The building in the center, 
which was originally the Montreal Wharves & Royal Insurance Company
but in 1870
it became the headquarters of the federal custom offices in Montreal
As you can see, 
slabs of ice invaded the port and streets nearby regularly, 
which forced the authorities to consider improvements to the port's infrastructures, 
which only happened a couple of decades later, 
in 1896
Can one say this project was "kept on ice" for too long?!?... 
As it is still the case on too many occasions, 
this project must have been a recurring electoral promise made by the politicians of the time, 
I'm only assuming,  
but that would be my cynicism talking here... 


1870
the view from the south shore. 
You can recognize in the distance the dome of the Bonsecours Market
previously discussed here
and the twin towers of the Notre-Dame Basilica
and the Mount-Royal looming over the city, 
and which you can see in its Fall colors here.


I could not find the original customs offices 
because that building was demolished in 1951 after a fire, 
but I found you another one in a somewhat similar style/shape, 
a few streets away. 
I believe this is now a boutique hotel...
Eh, I try!!


If you look here at this recent photograph, 
you'll notice just off center to the left in the background, 
a modern white building
That is where those offices once stood, 
and this is where you can now find 
a fine institution specialized in our history, 
but featuring also exhibits about other cultures, 
like I mentioned here, here and also here before.


In the prompt picture, 
seeing folks with their camera taking pics in Washington, 
I couldn't resist taking a pic of these tourists who were touring the streets of Old Montreal 
while the driver most likely telling them particular historic details about one place or another, 
the horse totally oblivious to his babbling...


This will conclude today's journey 
and you are free to return to 
where other contributors will take you on a different journey.
:)~ 


Just a reminder, 
that legit Sepians can join our Facebook page for fun and info. 
:)~

Lastly
I'd like to mention that all vintage pictures and historic details were found at 
the McCord Museum's Archives
and that all of the photos, 
vintage and recent,
 were modified to give a  more cohesive/pleasant look to this post. 
Also, 
since I mentioned in the beginning something about heroic photographers
like Alan called them, 
where you'll see these recent pics and many more, 
in their original color version, 
and the [mis]adventures that went along with these. 

See you all again next week for more!! 
As we say here in Montreal: 
Au Revoir!! 
:)~ 
HUGZ

32 comments:

  1. Stunning photographs as always Bruno. I think the contrast between the river covered with a sheet of flat ice, so strong that trains, vehicles and people can ride on it, is such a contrast to the nightmare of broken ice floes. I read about this happening every spring on the Yukon River in the gold rush days, and making the river very, very dangerous. It must be quite a sight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is dangerous here too,
      especially on smaller rivers,
      and we sure have plenty of those here.
      The flood and debacles are a recurring problem...
      And here in the city,
      we have an aging sewer system which often floods the streets.
      One more reason for me to live far above ground...
      :D~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  2. We have problems with an inch or so - That is what I call winter weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, well...
      We got the arsenal to deal with this;
      it is costly though...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  3. A fascinating and picturesque journey, and as for those slabs of ice; I've never seen anything like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only ice you want to see is the one floating in your drink!!
      At least, that's how I see it!!
      ;)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  4. Do I want to ride a train across a river of ice? NO NO NO and again in case you didn't hear me, NOOOOO! But I do want to walk the streets you photographed on Wednesday. Those photos are just beautiful - the prettiest blues and accents of white and black. They could be a thematic exhibit in a gallery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So a friend keeps telling me...
      Sigh...
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  5. I guess I'll never see ice like that. Come to think of it I only remember when I was a boy one lake where the ice was thick enough to walk on. No way would I go on a road or track across a lake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here it is customary for ski tracks and skydoos to run over lakes and rivers
      when it is deemed safe, but there are always some daredevils who think themselves
      smarter than the rest and that will risk their life going outside those tracks.
      And then they make the 6 o'clock news... either as missing, or drown.
      I like to stay on solid ground myself!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  6. I wouldn't want to ride on a train going over the ice. I have heard of too many cars going through the ice on lakes here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Understandably, I can relate to your reticence to engage unto such unsure venues.
      Better safe than sorry!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  7. No way I don't love it at all! Ha! Ha! Well just kind of being serious, your photos are actually very stunning, and telling, especially your last two. Those are my favorites here. But in case you didn't already guess, I am so sick of winter, that any near mention of it drives me, well you really don't want to know. Great unspring photos, bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I share your feelings about Winter, but I thought it'd be a nice send-off for it
      as Spring is now here. I had been keeping that pic of the train on ice for quite some time now...
      Now that it is done, moving on to my next projects, always about Montreal, of course!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  8. You would certainly need a great deal of faith to venture on that particular railway. I have been enjoying your recent pictures of Montreal so much as I have seen them appear on my Pinterest wall day-by-day. You seem to capture the mood of the city perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mood of the city, or my own?!?...
      A little of both I presume.
      I went to Old Montreal for this post,
      to show you the river "now", and where that building once stood,
      but of course, I started looking around,
      and it made for a wonderful post, but you've seen those pics in their original colors already,
      as stated, via Pinterest.
      Some things you just can't resist.
      I know I should be going soon to two other specific locations
      in time to post for "your" 171 SS post, which will be for me "my" 156th...
      I'm already gathering vintage pics for that post and some pics I took previously,
      but I wish to add on to that. We'll see what happens.
      Thanks for dropping by, Mister Burnett!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  9. I Prefer my ice in a glass with booze!!!Great Photos Bruno!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take my drinks "straight up",
      but I'm sure we can find a compromise...
      ;)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  10. I have walked across a frozen lake but I would not take that train. I'm amazed they all got out alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised too, but no casualties reported there.

      Brave you are, to cross a lake like that!!
      I bow to you!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  11. Fascinating history and beautiful black and white photography. Amazing the slabs of ice. I remember when I lived in Switzerland, one winter the Bodensee was frozen and people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland walked over it and met in the middle. At that time most lakes were frozen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Global warming is spoiling many things and I have yet to see any benefit to it.
      Must have been quite a sight to see all of these folks in the middle of nowhere.
      Thanks for sharing this tidbit!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  12. A post full of high contrast on multiple levels. And such heroic photos too, new and old! I recently watched a war movie on the battle of Leningrad which included scenes of the crucial supply of the city by driving truck convoys over the frozen ice. Very dramatic, but the ice had to be tested first! I'm sure the Montreal ice testers must have had courage to test the fall and spring ice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was in their best interest to be good at their job
      because the current is quite strong...
      One can't be wrong in such a situation.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  13. Very icy post. How did they ever solve that ice problem?
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pillars of the newly built Victoria bridge were used as ice breakers,
      more piers were built at the port, and pushing the shoreline further away
      where the currents are stronger, it kinda solved the problem.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  14. I always hold my breath in anticipation while your posts load because I know there will be something wonderful to see. Thanks for not keeping these great photos "on ice!" I love the ones with the broken ice, it's hard to imagine all that ice, especially for someone like me who lives in south Florida!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do have a few contacts on Flickr from the South
      and they often respond well to my winter pics,
      most likely because they never had to experience winter themselves,
      and they like to tease me with their local weather conditions...
      Kind of a cruel game as they know I dislike winter myself.
      But it's all in good fun!!!
      Ice can be a big problem, even dangerous,
      as it can cause flood and other hazards.
      It may look pretty but one should always be cautious about it.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  15. You think they look carefree; I think they look ready to jump. I grew up in south Mississippi, and I remember pictures in the Vicksburg (a Mississippi River town) museum showing how the Mississippi River was completely clogged with ice floes several decades earlier. That hasn't come close to happening again in my lifetime, and I'm 64. Every really old person I ever talked to about climate assured me that winters have gotten markedly milder since they were born in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't speak about the 1800s myself,
      but just going back to the 1960s, in my childhood,
      when snow would reach as high as the second storey,
      and now, we often spend the Holidays walking the streets
      with hardly a snow blanket, if any at all...
      Things have changed, even if some still deny that reality...
      Fools!!
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
    2. I might be from Mississippi, but I spent two winters in Minnesota. It was too much for me, but then I hated winter in south Mississippi. Here in coastal Oregon, it just rains all winter, which is worse than in Mississippi and almost as bad the in Minnesota.

      Delete
    3. Here, it is almost a national past-time to bitch about the weather.
      You see me here rejoicing at the arrival of Spring,
      but I suspect that I shall be ranting soon against the heat,
      but not the pretty flowers.
      Perhaps about the eternal lawnmowers...
      We'll see!!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete

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Thank you!!
:)~

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