A letter 1854 from the first US Consul in Montreal

A handwritten letter on blue paper with the US Consulate letterhead, Eagle and seal. The paper has also two watermarks, the year 1854 and the large logo of the paper mill. The first U.S. Consular agency in Montreal was opened on May 29, 1854, by consular agent Canfield Dorwin of Vermont. Exactly this man wrote this letter, only six months later, on 14 October 1854!

A 1854 letter from the first US Consul in Montreal

The office was raised to Consulate General status in July of 1857, when American officials transferred the office of the U.S. Consul General to the British North American Provinces from Quebec City to Montreal, in recognition of Montreal’s growing commercial importance. Nearly half of the trade between Canada and the U.S. at the time transited the Port of Montreal. Quebec province previously hosted numerous U.S. consular offices and commercial agencies – including posts in Coaticook, Gaspé, Rimouski, St. Hyacinthe, Sherbrooke, and Trois Rivières – but most of these establishments had been consolidated by 1915. Today, the U.S. government is ably represented in Quebec by Consulate Generals in Montreal and Quebec City.

Signature of Dorwin

The first female U.S. Consul General to be appointed to Montreal was Elizabeth Harper in 1973. The first African American to hold the post was Bernadette Allen, appointed in 2002. The Consulate General in Montreal has changed location several times in the course of its history. The Consulate moved from buildings it had occupied since the 1950s on rue du Docteur-Penfield to Complexe Desjardins in 1976, where the Consulate remained for 14 years. Since 1990, it has been located in the SNC-Lavalin building, on the corner of René-Lévesque Boulevard and Saint-Alexandre Street.

The letter is addressed to “The Honourable Justices of her Majesty’s  Court of Queens Bench in Montreal”, where DORWIN is communicating that he is appointed by US Secretary of State MARCY and the President of the United States AS CONSUL FOR THE PORT OF MONTREAL and the dependencies here of…which is also confirmed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and by the Majestys Secretary of State. A highly interesting document of early diplomatic relations between the USA and Canada. The document is a double folio and just in excellent condition.

Watermarks in the consular paper

This is US/Canada diplomatic history!

And then I found this on Consul Dorwin…

On a Saturday in 1869, Canfield Dorwin, brother of Jedediah Hubbell Dorwin, onetime American Consul General in Montreal and a partner of C. Dorwin & Company, brokers, disappeared mysteriouslyHis company was found to be missing $8,000 and it was presumed that he had taken it.

News of the alleged embezzlement reached Toronto and was reported in the local paper:

There is also a good deal of talk in the city about the disappearance of Canfield Dorwin, one of the partners in the firm of C. Dorwin & Co., brokers, who, it is said, left the city on Saturday, and that his whereabouts cannot be discovered.  It seems to be a fact that this old house has also suspended, and it is stated that Mr. Dorwin has taken $8,000 with him.  The extent of liabilities not ascertained.  Mr. Dorwin’s partner, Mr. Gault, is still here (The Globe. Toronto, Tuesday, March 16, 1869).

A letter 1854 from the first US Consul in Montreal