Saturday, April 27, 2013


The prompt picture this week on Sepia Saturday 
shows people sitting on a bench reading newspapers 
with traffic going on in the background. 
I showed you people reading before, 
mom, dad, even my grandparents and a writer... 
So I instead focused on an advertising poster on the pole, 
with a clown face on it. 
I found something that I thought had a Montreal connection to it... 
I thought... 

this happened in Montreal in 1812, 
but the troop was not from Montreal itself. 

I found some answers in this book.

(Open in a separate tab to read)

As you can see, 
amid stories of fire, bankruptcy and war, 
joining the circus may not have been such a great idea 
despite the romantic notion we may have about it.

Montreal's history blended with American history for a while. 
Many still wonder why Quebec didn't become an American state 
instead of remaining under the British crown. 
That would have changed the course of History, 
but truth be told, 
we didn't want either, 
American [whom we trusted even less] or British. 
We wished for autonomy. 
Well, some of us at any rates... 

Circus Boys, Montreal, c. 1868. 
Young performers in a studio shot by Notman.

Circus parade, Montreal, c. 1910. 

Studio portrait, Montreal, c. 1910, 
by Notman
Subjecting his daughter [and a friend] to a fashion fad...

I thought I had found something amusing to show here, 
but history and violence have their way to sneak in... 
I could have left you with Tchaikovsky's 1812
but I opted for something more modern...


Time to go back to 
My only advice would be to be careful where you step 
as you never know where it'll take you... 
History is an adventure!! 
Thanks to the McCord Museum, Wikipedia 
and the randomness of Google and YT


  1. I must come back and watch the 1812 video in full. My knowledge of history in Americs is limited to lessons at school that I have largely forgotten.
    Seeing the elephants reminded me that there is a move in the UK to ban performing animals in circuses here.

    1. You and me both!! I still have to watch the last half hour...
      Did I find the vid, or what!?!
      Our circus industry here, Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize, for example,
      revolve uniquely on human performance.
      We have Cavalia, which has to do with horses,
      but they are well treated, apparently..
      So I've heard from an unofficial source.

  2. Love your path through this week's theme. It always intrigues me when people see the road not taken :) Creative! Thank you!

    1. Oh Kathy!!
      Is there a path?!?
      The idea would be reassuring....

  3. Good to see photographs by the famous William Notman appearing on your blog, and nice to have a somewhat different excursion from you. Everyone loves a visit to the circus ... well, not everyone, but in my family we certainly did. Such a spectacle - something so foreign that my couple of visits to the Boswell-Wilkie Circus as a child have remained very strong in my memory. As Bob has hinted, sadly the trails left by many circuses are littered with stories of animal abuse of one sort or another, and the declining popularity of such acts has put the pinch on their economic viability. In fact that link has a note on the main page relating to just that- allegations of animal cruelty.

    Strangely, about ten years ago there was a locally made documentary on TV here about a lad who "ran away" to join the circus, more in the vein of reality show than genuine documentary, but interesting to ponder on that sort of thing still being possible in the 21st Century.

    1. Notman is a recurring figure.... Thanks to the McCord Museum.
      I believe you found delight in adding links in your comment....
      My parents skipped the circuses that visited the city
      because I went hysterical seeing the clowns...
      Truth be told, those that freaked me out were those pretending to walk upside down
      when I know now for a fact they were walking like you and me with a fake head dangling
      between their knees, but back then, it was too much for me...
      So, no circus, which is just as well.
      I don't think I could have cope with the animals AND THE WHIP!!!
      I much prefer the kind of circuses we have over here.
      Joining the circus here would be a decent career move NOW,
      but back then, anywhere but here?!?
      Not so sure!!

  4. The poor child in the clown outfit looks pretty disgusted. I never saw a circus until I was 22. Don't remember any of it.

    1. You would love Cirque du Soleil, or Cirque Eloize, surely!!!
      Trust me!!

  5. Lately I have become intrigued with the early circuses since they often included musicians and bands. The poster has a terrific texture of typeface that is as beautiful as the florid prose. Of course it sings when you read it OUT LOUD! The romance of circus life must have left a trail of people who fell off the bandwagon when they discovered it was REAL work. And Streisand's rendition of Sondheim's song is one of the best.

    1. Hard to beat Barbra...
      The daily routine involved in circus life must indeed have been hard;
      but when you have nowhere else to go....
      Can't have been easy for some.

  6. As far as I know I have never been to a circus - I'm sure I would have remembered. We didn't take our own children either. UK TV used to fetaure them at holiday times and that's where most of my memories come from. The same for the Cirque de Soleil, but I hope to see a performanace 'in the flesh' one day.

    1. It is well worth seeing,
      I can tell you,
      for having seen them a few times myself.

  7. I remember reading or watching something not too long ago about how little we Americans know about the War of 1812 and the significance it has for Canadians. I must return to watch the full video as well. I do enjoy the fantasy and amazing feats of Cirque du Soleil.

    1. It is always good to refresh one's memory or to learn something new if it was absent.
      I remember doing some work on that in elementary school...
      That was a long time ago....


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