18 July

Ex-President of Confederacy Visits Montreal

One of the greatest welcomes ever given to an American citizen visiting Canada occurred July 18, 1867, a few days after Confederation, when Jefferson Davis appeared in Montreal. He had been President of the Confederate States during the American Civil War and had just been released from Fortress Monroe where he had been held for two years as a war criminal. He had been bound with chains, insulted, and ill-treated, but had finally been released on bail. After his release Davis traveled to Montreal where his wife had found shelter for her two children with her mother, Mrs. William Burr Howell, whose home was on St. Catherine's Street, where the Henry Morgan store now stands.

The occasion for the ovation was a performance of Sheridan's play The Rivals at the Theatre Royal on Coté Street. It was a benefit performance for the Southern Relief Association which was helping Southern states devastated by the Civil War. When Davis and his family appeared in the theatre the crowd cheered for half an hour; the band played Dixie and someone shouted "We shall live to see the South a nation again" to which the audience answered, "Amen."

Montreal had been a hotbed of Confederate spy activity during the Civil War, and many escaped prisoners of war found shelter there. A group of them raided St. Albans, Vermont, during the Quebec Conference on Confederation in 1864, and raised fears that a Northern army might retaliate by invading Canada (see October 19). The welcome in Montreal on July 18, 1867, aroused more hostility among the "Yankees." The New York Herald said in an editorial: "The fuss made over the arch-rebel on this occasion proves that the Canadians are in a very bad condition of mind. They won't recover their equanimity until they are formally annexed to us."

Davis and his family stayed in Montreal in a home on Mountain Street bought for them by friends. It later became the office and home of Dr. Henry Drummond, famous for his poems about the habitants.


18 July

-1628    David Kirke captured French supply ships in the St. Lawrence.

-1739    A census of Canada showed a population of 42,701.

-1817    The first treaty with western Indians was made by the Earl of Selkirk on behalf of King George III.

-1905    The Dominion Act created the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan; it was to take effect on September 1.

-1910    Grand Trunk Railway employees went on strike until August 2. They received a 15 per cent wage increase.

-1913    The immigration of Sikhs from India caused riots in Vancouver.

-1921    United Farmers won an election in Alberta.

-1929    A plebiscite in Prince Edward Island upheld prohibition.

-1932    Canada and the United States signed an agreement to build the St. Lawrence Seaway.

-1959    The Federal Government placed oil, gas, and international electric power under a National Energy Board.