23 November

Lighting Display (with Abraham Gesner, the discoverer of kerosene)

Street Lights Used in Montreal for the First Time

Montreal's first street lights, using whale oil as fuel, were put up by private citizens on November 23, 1815. The occasion was reported by the Montreal Herald: "By the exertions of Mr. S. Dawson and other Gentlemen, that part of St. Paul Street west of the Old Market is now handsomely lighted by twenty-two lamps fixed at intervals of 54 feet. The novelty of the thing has a most pleasing effect which we hope will induce citizens in other parts of the city to follow the example. The cost of each lamp completely filled up is not quite seven dollars."

Three years later, whale oil lamps were supplied for the whole town, and were kept in use until 1836, when the latest European novelty was introduced. These were gas lamps supplied by the Montreal Gas Light Company. The chairman was John Molson who built an industrial empire including a bank, shipping company and a brewery. During the rebellion of 1837, Robert Nelsonís rebels planned to capture Molson and hold him for ransom. (See November 9)

Policemen first came on the scene in Montreal in 1818. They were called "night watchmen" and carried long sticks, lanterns, rattles, and whistles. As they made their rounds they would shout "Allís well" every half hour which may not have been well for people trying to sleep.

The worst problem in Canadaís fastest growing city was garbage disposal. People threw garbage and other refuse into open ditches which ran beside the streets. The result was a cholera epidemic in 1832 which took the lives of hundreds of people. Montreal (like Quebec) was incorporated in that same year. The mayor and sixteen councillors began working on the problem right away, and great improvements had been made by 1836. The first steam railway in Canada was also opened that year, at La Prairie across the river. It ran 15 miles to St. Jean, on the Richelieu River. This was the old portage route to Lake Champlain, where steamers completed the link to the Hudson Canal and New York. There is a plan today to build a canal like the St. Lawrence Seaway to provide a route for shipping between Montreal and New York.


23 November

-1823    John Caldwell, Reviever-General of Lower Canada was suspended from office for being £96,000 in arrears (see November 29)

-1877    Canada was awarded $5.5 million from the United States for fishing rights and free navigation of the St. Lawrence (see February 27).