OTD: Prince of Wales opens Crystal Palace, Victoria Bridge in Montréal

On today’s date in 1860, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) opened Montréal’s Crystal Palace exhibition hall before formally dedicating the Victoria Bridge, which began carrying freight and passengers the previous December.

City officials also struck a medal for presentation to Prince Edward in honour of him laying the bridge’s cornerstone. A week earlier, the medal was displayed at Tiffany’s New York City flagship store, according to a July 1860 story by The New York Times, which added the medal measured about 44.5 millimetres in diameter and was “of exquisite workmanship.”

The Prince of Wales Laying the Last Stone of the Victoria Bridge Over the St. Lawrence by George Henry Andrews (1816-1898).

The Prince of Wales Laying the Last Stone of the Victoria Bridge Over the St. Lawrence by George Henry Andrews (1816-1898).

MEDAL DESCRIPTION

“On one side is a view of the Victoria Bridge and St. Lawrence River, with the armorial bearings of the Canadian Provinces and the following inscription: ‘The Victoria Bridge, Montreal. / The greatest work / of Engineering skill / in the world. / Publicly inaugurated / and opened in 1860,'” reads The New York Times report.

“Encircling the whole are the words, ‘The Victoria Bridge / Grand Trunk Railway of Canada.’ On the opposite side are bas relief profiles of Queen VICTORIA, Prince ALBERT, and the Prince of Wales, with the coat of arms of England and the following inscription: ‘The Victoria Bridge, / consisting of 23 spans, / 242 feet each, / and one in the centre 330 feet, / with a long abutment / on each bank of the river. / The tubes are iron, / 22 feet high, 16 feet wide, / and weighs 6,000 tons, / supported on 24 piers, / containing 250,000 tons of stone, / measuring 3,000,000 cubic feet. / Extreme length 2 miles, / Cost, $7,000,000.’”

The medal was struck by A. Hoffnung, of Montreal.

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