While browsing digital archive images of Westmount, I keep coming across this picture of a beautiful old fountain next to the park’s current wading pond in the early 1900s.
Image: Souvenir postcard – The Valentines’ and Sons Publishing Company Limited.
Council proceedings confirms that it is a drinking fountain donated to the City of Westmount by the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union to celebrate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1898.
At the 1874 organizing convention of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the members were urged to erect drinking fountains in their towns so that men could get a drink of water without entering saloons and staying for stronger drinks. The drinking fountains that were erected often offered a place for horses to drink, another for dogs, and of course, a place for humans to drink. (The Vagabond – History of the drinking water fountain on First & Broad streets in Gadsden)
Thinking this would be a wonderful historic addition to the park, if restored to its former glory, I contacted City Hall and enquired about its whereabouts.
The City of Westmount Archives and Records Management office kindly did the research and provided a fascinating insight into this matter.
Apparently, in the 1960s a major redevelopment occurred in the park. During that period, the fountain was, for unknown reasons, removed. Interestingly, the City’s Archives has a document, with the following photographs, dated 1987, that shows the fountain disassembled, 100 kilometers north of Montreal, in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon. How the fountain ended up there is a question – one can speculate that it was given to a City employee who moved it to a country property
That’s a pity ! There’s one surviving ornamental horse/human drinking fountain at Parnell Square, Dublin, Ireland. It’s maintained by Dublin Corporation, and it would be a shame to remove it, although I’m sure there are no plans to do so. It’s a reminder of the days of horse drawn traffic, of course, and still functions to provide thirsty Dubliners with a drink of cool water on a hot day. I’m not sure if it would be sufficient to dissuade beer drinkers from frequenting the many pubs in the area, however.