« 上一頁繼續 »
In this particular, nature is stronger than man, so the mightier power must perforce have its way, as is testified by the engineer's provision for freaks of temperature. Looking in at the mouth, a faint speck of iight is discerned afar off. This glimmer marks the centre of the bridge.
The great work was accomplished by a celebrated English firm of contractors, Peto and Company. A small army of masons and mechanics was sent from a completed railway in Scotland, to the trans-Atlantic contract. Irish and French Canadians supplied the unskilled labour. My guide was an old man who had left Perthshire fourteen years before to enter the service of the Grand Trunk Railway Co. He showed me the crowning stone of the edifice, and the riveting rivet. Stone and rivet were set in their appointed places by the hands of Royalty. The Prince of Wales became for the nonce, Prince of Artificers. Never bridge more honored or more useful. It is the eighth wonder of the world, as story books would say. By its means Montreal is joined on one hand to the Atlantic, and on the other to Chicago and the West. Trajan's Column still records an Emperor's deeds, after the lapse of seventeen centuries ; the men who have given shape and strength to Victoria Bridge, have also reared for themselves a monument, which we trust may be preserved to celebrate for all time the measures of brain and mites of labor, consumed upon its building.
Montreal is the most "go-a-head” city of British North America. Jersey City people say of New Yorkers, that “ each one of them was born into the world half-an-hour too late," and that the race to make up for lost time never ceases during life.” Perbaps Montrealers are scarcely so swift-sailing as this, but they at any rate know how to “make hay while the sun shines”_" to work while it is
called to-day.” Certainly they have succeeded in accomplishing a marvellous tale of results. You mingle with their merchants and feel that they are princes ; you visit their stores and liken them to palaces; prince and palace alike owning no kings but conscience and commerce, no court but the public weal.
A tingle of electrical energy seems to have been flashed through the Great Lakes from far away Chicago; or perhaps it is Anglo-Scotch enterprise which has grappled with, and overcome Seignorism, and slow-going Habitant ways. Signs of their success are everywhere around you. Engineers have crowned the mountain with a grand system of waterworks. The supply is gained from the St. Lawrence at Lachine, before its purity has been stained with the brown floods of Ottawa. After being filtered, it is dispensed from a reservoir on the hill-side, to the city below. I was told that the water is not so wholesome for drinking purposes as that obtained from springs; yet it must be a great boon to the citizens for the thousand other needs of daily life. M°Gill's College is placed on the slope of the hill. It is the princely gift of a merchant citizen. The country round is dotted with pleasant villas.
Noble quays extend for three miles along the riverbank in front of the city. These are washed by the dark ochreous torrents of River Grand, while the pale green waters of the St. Lawrence flow past the opposite shore. Hundreds of large ocean-going ships come up into the spacious harbour, discharging and loading merchandise and corn.
Engineering skill has opened a way for vessels to ascend above the raging rapids of Lachine, by a chain of locks of wonderful completeness. The city possesses the largest and most convenient covered market on the Continent. Over it is a large ball-room capable of accommodating 4,000 people.
The public buildings are a credit to British North America. I looked into St. Patrick's Hall one evening when it was lighted for a concert. Irish Catholics subscribed to erect this noble pile, and have done their work well. It is said that three-fourths of the people of Montreal are Catholics. At their beautiful church of St. Patrick, were celebrated the funeral obsequies of D'Arcy MoGee, of honoured memory. The Canadian people mourned this patriot's death as sincerely as Americans and Englishmen sorrowed for the noble martyr of Slave emancipation. The Cathedral of Nôtre Dame is the largest ecclesiastical building in America. It furnishes accommodation for 10,000 worshippers within its walls. In one of its towers hangs Gros Bourdon, whose solemn chimes are occasionally heard tolling a fire-alarm, or a passing-bell knell on the death of some leading citizen.
Protestants are also great in churches. Within a radius of half-a-mile, on Beaver Hall Hill I counted a round dozen, altogether there are in the city more than thirty places of worship of the reformed faith. The citizens have a Club House, as spacious and ornate as our “Carlton" or "Reform.” Their St. James's Street is more substantial than its London namesake, their squares of Victoria and Place D'Armes, with shade trees, fountains and flowers, form pretty oases amid the roar of business life.
Montreal has already gathered around it the accessories of a manufacturing metropolis. I saw sugar manufactories as large as those of Glasgow or Bristol. In other establishments elegant articles of furniture are made from the beautiful woods of the country, and the native marble receives like manipulation at the hands of
skilful artificers. Canadian marble is prettily streaked, but very fiinty, and requires care in working. I saw round shafts or pillars of it, perfect in shape, which had been extracted from the rock with a bore-cutter. For a season or two during the American Civil War, the immense grain traffic of the Western States, flowed, viâ Welland Canal, into the St. Lawrence. During a year or so of interregnum, Montreal usurped the export trade of Empire City. But with the restoration of peace, cargoes were again consigned to New York.
I called at the Savings' Bank and had a chat with the manager. I looked in upon the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association; and went through the Mechanics’ Institution at the invitation of the secretary. The “Times," with a large selection of our English magazines lay upon the tables. St. Lawrence Hall is quite a celebrated hotel ; it is the rendezvous of British Officers and Members of the Legislature. Before the war it was also a great resort of Southern tourists. In the streets you notice soldiers of the Royal Artillery, also of Highland infantry, in their national costumes. Between Montreal and the mainland is the small island of St. Helen's. It is used by the military authorities for practice ground, and a place of summer encampment. The British flag waves over its fortifications. We also find there tent-homes for the troops of the 100th regiment-the men living the same al-fresco life as the Highlanders at Point Levi.
It was a gala-time among the red-coated volunteers of Canada. Every hotel was full of these gentry, who had assembled from city and settlement, to strive for the prize at the Dominion shooting-match. Sixteen hundred men flocked to La Prairie, the place of contest, a few miles down the river. Never did Greeks on the plains of Elis contend more eagerly for the “crown of wild olive,” than did these Canadians for the Governor's prize. The tournament over, no embers of rivalry remained ; the esprit of the tilt-yard was succeeded by the entente cordiale of the mess-room and bivouac.
I ascended the mountain for a last look at Montreal. Its northern slopes were green with apple trees, whose fruit is famous even in England. Below lay harbour and shipping; the grey limestone city with maple-shaded boulevards and noble public buildings. A gleam of white tents on St. Helen's Island caught the eye; the blue hills of Vermont in the far away distance “fringing the southern sky.” Turning away from such a pleasuregiving sight, I bid good-bye to this prospering Queen City—this Venice of the North.