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Brockville was getting ready for the visit of the Prince of Wales on September 3, 1860. This arch, one of five placed along the route of the planned procession, was built by James Gallena at the intersection of King St. W. and John St. It was designed to resemble an arch in England at an entrance to one of the Royal palaces. Noticeable on the far right is the Commercial Hotel, and just to the left of it, the Clifton House.
It was quite an occasion for the citizens of Brockville who awaited the arrival of their Prince by train from Ottawa on the afternoon of Monday, September 3, 1860. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), Queen Victoria’s eighteen-year-old son was in the middle of a three-month visit to North America on behalf of his mother.
After a quick 12-day voyage on board the battleship HMS Hero from Plymouth, England, the prince and his official party, headed by the Duke of Newcastle, the British Secretary of State, landed at St. John’s, Newfoundland on July 26, 1860. During an intense tour of the Maritime Colonies, and visits to Quebec City and Montreal, “Bertie,” as he was commonly known, had delighted the crowds wherever he traveled, and had enjoyed dancing with numerous women at the many grand balls that had been set up in the larger centres.
His official duties included opening the new Victoria Railway Bridge at Montreal and the Canadian Parliament Buildings at Ottawa, before he boarded a special train to travel to Brockville. This was meant to be a layover before he and his fifteen-member entourage moved up the St. Lawrence River by steamship to Kingston and Toronto.
Here’s a photograph perhaps taken on the same day as the previous one. The location is further east on King Street looking west from near the intersection with Broad St. Notice all the flags flying on the buildings. In the background after the road turns you might see the Gallena arch as shown in the previous photograph.
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Thus it was that Brockville prepared to welcome Prince Albert. For weeks prior, preparations were underway. Elaborate arches were constructed on the various streets along the planned parade route set for the afternoon.
The Grand Trunk Railway Company’s arch built just south of the depot at the head of Buell St. would be the first to be encountered by the Prince and his party. The route would lead down Buell to Church St. where it would turn westerly to Perth St. The second arc, located in front of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, was surmounted by a floral crown, a harp, and an Irish wolfhound.
On the main street, near the intersection of John Street, the third arch was the work of James Gallena and Son, the plaster contractors. This is the one pictured here at the right. The fourth and grandest arch was placed near Court House Ave. Its pinnacles were capped by two barge imitation beavers, the Arms of the Royal Family, and a replica of the Prince of Wales’ feathers.
All along the route, many buildings were decorated with numerous flags, floral crowns, bannerettes, and flowers. In the centre of town a wreath of evergreens was extended across the street with a banner inscribed: “Welcome, Prince of Wales, son of the best of Queens, and a nation’s hope.”
The route led to Park St., down to Water St., and back to the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Depot where the final arch erected by the company led onto the steamboat wharf where the SS Kingston would receive the party.
During the afternoon at the Grand Trunk Station, Brockville’s officials and crowds of citizens waited anxiously, but the train’s arrival was delayed beyond its expected time. It finally arrived hours late, but the sun had set, and makeshift locomotive lamps were set up to light the scene.
Mayor William Fitzsimmons delivered a welcoming speech, to which the Prince replied. Similarly the Warden of the Counties spoke. By this time, the crowd was creating a commotion, and amidst much restlessness and shoving the visitors were escorted to the waiting carriages by the hard-pressed police and special constables. It was said that Governor-General Sir Edmund Head was nearly shoved off the platform.
The procession set off down Buell St. escorted by the Militia Company band. Thousands of those in town to see the Prince were disappointed at not get a good look at His Highness with the limited street lighting then available. At the wharf the Royal group stepped out of their carriages, traveled along the carpeted path, under the last arch, and boarded the steamship Kingston. They stayed on board as it anchored off shore for the night.
In the morning, through the encouragement of a prominent Brockville citizen, the Prince’s party decided to land again, taxied to shore by the pleasure steamer “Queen of the Isles,” and again drove through town, allowing both visitors and Brockvillians a better view. Upon the return of the carriages about noon, the SS Kingston hauled up anchor and departed to the cheers of the crowds on the dock.
This is the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son, Albert Edward [born 1841], whom the family called “Bertie”. This photograph was taken about the year when he was 18 years old and embarked on his extensive Royal Tour of North America.
This is the standing portrait of Bertie taken in Matthew Brady’s photographic studio in New York on October 13, 1860, 10 days after his visit to Brockville ended.
Sources: The street scene photograph has been printed over the years, and was probably taken by the studio of A.C. McIntyre. The Prince of Wales was photographed about the time of his visit to North America. The majority of the details relating the story of Brockville’s welcome to the Prince were taken from an undated article published in the Recorder & Times many years ago. The article related the memories of Charles C. Lyman of 39 Victoria Ave. who was a mere 10 years old when his parents brought him from Toledo to Brockville for the visit of the Prince of Wales.
Reference in WIKIPEDIA about Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII)