“Can you spot where we left our snowshoes?”

For the February edition of Caption This, we opted to be thematically consistent and chose another postcard from Montreal Import Co.’s  “Canadian Sport Series” which depicts a group of uniformed men gleefully bouncing their peer. Inspired by the caption of Isabelle Lalonde, “It’s raining men, Hallelujah!” with a recommended song by the Weather Girls, we have taken the liberty to animate the scene for your enjoyment.

“It’s Raining Men!”

Here are some captions which caught our attention:

Jane Edwards:  This is a birthday I won’t forget!

Sharon Cohen: “Am I glad my buddies stuck around after warning me not to go up in that big balloon”

Megan A Persson: This year’s team trust exercise was about to go really wrong.

Richard Orlando: The origin of the word “Bouncer”

Participant Phyllis Klaiman merits a special shout out as she was right to assume that this was a picture of the Montreal Snow Shoe Club and aptly caption the image:

Can you spot where we left our snowshoes?

Founded in 1840, the Club was the first of its kind in Montreal and laid the foundation for other winter sports clubs which followed.

Although the MSSC organized and competed in a variety of races, they were most renowned for their torchlit processions from McGill’s Roddick Gates to Mount Royal Park. At the end of their races, they would gather for a joyous dinner in their clubhouse. It was often during these dinners where the tradition of “bouncing” would take place. Race winners, newly initiated members, and special guests would be tossed into the air and caught repeatedly as a celebratory gesture.

In our featured photograph, taken in 1886, it is Lord Stanley Preston, former Governor General of Canada and member of the MSSC, who is being “bounced” by his fellow members. The photographer behind the image is William Notman, who Maclean Magazine has referred to as “Canada’s first celebrity photographer.” A quick search into his work has led us to make some speculations regarding the authenticity of the picture. Notman often photographed people in his studio, where he recreated outdoor scenery using painted backdrops and props. Therefore, it is very likely that the snow that we see beneath the snowshoers’ feet was in reality just salt and lamb wool. He was also well known for his composite shots, mainly his ability to cut and paste scripted images to produce dynamic photographs. As such, we cannot guarantee that a genuine bounce ever took place.

Notman’s large body of work is currently housed at the McCord Museum. The museum’s acquisition of his photographs led to the creation of a department devoted to historical photographs. The Notman photographic archives visually chronicles the history of this city and Canada starting from the 1840s until now. Inaugurated in December 2022, McCord Museum’s in-house eatery named after the photographer, Café Notman, features Notman’s images on display. Does this entrance sign look familiar?

Image by Jacquelyn Sundberg

Our thanks to everyone who participated this month! Subscribe to our Newsletter for more engaging ROAAr content.

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