ArtworksAllan EdsonThe Ice Palace, Montreal, 18851846-1888$3,500
Inscriptionssigned, "Allan Edson" (recto, lower right)
ProvenancePrivate Collection, Montreal.
According to J.E. Nelson, “The Ice Palace, fashioned by the hands of skilful workmen, may be said to represent the strength and beauty and rugged grandeur of the Canadian character, while the varied pleasures in which our people take part during the winter months, lend tone and color and warmth to a picture which has left its impression on the minds of multitudes of men from other lands [ 1 ].”
The Ice Palace of the Montreal Winter Carnival of 1885 stood in Dominion Square for the duration of the festivities and was designed by architect Alexander Cowper Hutchison who was acclaimed for his work on McGill University’s Redpath Museum and the Montreal City Hall [ 2 ]. Hutchison hired his brother, J.H. Hutchison, to oversee the construction of the palace. Local workers were employed to cut over 15,000 blocks of ice measuring 42 inches by 24 inches by 15 inches and weighing 500 pounds each [ 3 ]. The palace itself measured 160 feet in length, 120 feet in width, and reached 100 feet in height making it one of the largest ice palaces of the carnival’s history [ 4 ]. On the final day, the carnival concluded with snowshoers filling Dominion Square and setting off fireworks to simulate an attack on the palace. After the fireworks ended, the snowshoers led a torch-lit march from the Ice Palace to the summit of Mount Royal [ 5 ]. The Gazette of 4 February 1885 claimed: “Our ice palace is a familiar object of beauty to the ends of the earth [ 6 ]”.
1. S.E. Dawson., The Great Carnival of the North. Montreal: Canada Railway News, 1884, p. 9. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/aeu.ark:/13960/t3cz4035z [accessed June 18, 2019]
2. Mario Robert. "Chronique Montréalité No 1 : Les Carnavals D'hiver De Montréal, 1883-1889." | Archives De Montréal. http://archivesdemontreal.com/2014/01/20/les-carnavals-dhiver-de-montreal- 1883-1889/ [accessed May 16, 2019]
3. Fred Anderes and Ann Agranoff. Ice Palaces. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1983, p. 26.
4. Canada Bank Note Co. "The Ice Castle; Montreal Winter Carnival, 1885." Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec. http://collections.banq.qc.ca/ark:/52327 /1996756 [accessed June 18, 2019]
5. "Ice Palace, Winter Carnival, Montreal, QC, 1884." McCord Museum. http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/ collection/artifacts/MP-1975.19 [accessed June 18, 2019]
6. Gillian Poulter, Becoming Native in a Foreign Land: Sport, Visual Culture, and Identity in Montreal. 1840-85. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009, p. 18214of 84