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    November 2021
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    Scottish Canadian links : Henderson’s Old Pipe Furnace in Montreal, Quebec

    Hi Mairiuna, Iain and Margaret 🙂

    Trust all is well. I am so happy to share today with you and our followers the exciting story of the discovery in Montreal, Canada, upon carrying out archaeological excavations under the Jacques Cartier bridge of an old pipe furnace used during the 19th century in the Faubourg Sainte-Marie which was also known as Montreal’s pipemaker’s district.

    And why I’m excited about this? Because it has a Scottish Canadian / Quebec link!

    pont jacques cartier 1930

    jacques_cartier_fouilles_pipes_henderson_photo_Christian Roy_Archéologue

    Photo: Christian Roy

    The story begins in 2005 when archeologist Christian Roy was working on a dig at the corner of Montreal’s Avenue de Lorimier and Rue Sainte-Catherine, just under the Jacques Cartier bridge and excavated a dump where he found hundreds of thousands of pipe fragments, ‘in piles more than three feet thick.’

    They were from the Henderson factory, which, according to census records, employed fifty workers in both 1861 and 1871. From 225 tonnes to 300 tonnes of pipe clay were processed annually and, in 1871, nearly 7 million pipes were produced per year. The Hendersons were of Scottish descent and native from Glasgow, and most of their employees were Scottish and Irish immigrants.

    There were so many, Roy says, that they couldn’t collect them all — but the ones they did salvage are stored in Montreal’s archaeological reserve, and are often borrowed by museums.

    Pipes were stamped “HENDERSON/MONTREAL,” and flanked by grapes and lovely flowers inclusive of the thistle, emblem of Scotland.  Pretty cool 🙂

    The Scots immigration to Canada started more than 200 years ago and they have been involved in every aspect of Canada’s development. They are the 3rd largest ethnic group in the country. In the 2016 Census of Canada, a total of 4,799,005 Canadians, or 14% of the population, listed themselves as being of Scottish origin, and I am one of them.

    My dear Dad’s mother, Elizabeth Mitchelson,  (maiden name), was of Scottish descent as her grandfather immigrated to Canada from Scotland. Some of my family members are working on building up the genealogy tree. Will keep you posted with new information as it uncovers!

    But I disgress…let’s get back to the tobacco pipes 🙂

    Because clay tobacco pipes were “both fragile and cheap,” they are “one of the most commonly found artifacts on colonial and post-colonial settlements in Canada,” writes the late Iain C. Walker, an archaeologist who authored more than 20 papers and articles on historic clay pipes, in a 1970 paper in the journal Ontario Archaeology.

    Consumers often snapped the pipes up by the dozen, and since they only cost so little, it was no huge loss if they shattered after a single use.


    Photo: Simon Filiatreault Ing

    PJCCI  (Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc) has completed in December 2019 the archaeological dig in that area. The remains of the kiln will go back underground before they get bitten by the Canadian winter.

    “The mortar between the bricks will fall apart sooner rather than later,” Roy says. As soon as water seeps in and freezes, it breaks everything apart.The kiln will be swaddled beneath geotextiles and sterile sand.”

    Eventually, he adds, there may be an interpretive plaque on the site, or an outline laid down on the ground, so visitors can see how big the structure once was. Beneath the bridge, below the dirt, a reminder of the city’s industrial past will hang around.

    Hope you enjoyed the read.
    Until next, stay safe.
    Talk soon,

    Jacques Cartier Montreal Bridge

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