Low and behold, we have something that is “the oldest” in the world! Everyone knows about the world famous Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar square, I mean, it’s in London after all! However, despite what many may believe, Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar square is not the oldest one in the world. That is right, “the Colonies” have something older.
Nelson’s Column in Dublin was once the oldest in the world. Though, after it was destroyed by the IRA in 1966 with a bomb, Montreal’s Nelson’s Column became the oldest in the world, with London’s coming in at second place (The column in London was built between 1840-1843).
Admiral Horatio Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In today’s political climate, one may think it quite strange to have a monument for a British Naval hero in a square named after a French man, Jacques Cartier. However, when funds were raised back before it’s construction in 1809, money came from both English and French Montrealers.
However, because of the fact that a monument celebrating a British victory over France was standing in a predominantly French speaking city, certain groups of people started to take offence to it. As early as 1890, a Quebec sovereignty group planned to blow-up the monument. In 1930, french Montrealer’s responded to Nelson’s presence in their city in a more level-headed way: they built a monument for Jean Vauquelin, a French Naval Officer. Though, in all fairness, Jean Vauquelin was by no means a Naval hero and far from being a Horatio Nelson in historical regards.
The idiocy continued up until 1997, when the City of Montreal planned on moving the monument to a more “Anglophone” area of the city (my guess would be Westmount). However, due to public protest, the monument stayed where it was.
I guess that some people don’t realize that we all share this city and all pay municipal taxes like the other. Sadly, some people tend to live in a past that they were never part of. This is due to their elders passing down bitterness to their sons & daughters, bitterness that has no real meaning in today’s world.