1832: There’s no such thing as a snow day in banking

Accountant Henry Dupuy, recalling his early days as a Montreal Bank employee, wrote about having to transport a large sum of specie (money in the form of coins), in boxes and kegs from Kingston to Montreal by stagecoach in February 1832 during a snow storm.

Between Brockville and Cornwall, the coach met a very steep hill and broke a harness in the attempt to climb it. Henry and the driver had to carry the specie from the bottom of the hill to the top, wading through snow nearly up to their hips. Eventually, they were able to reassemble coach and cargo at the top of the hill and be on their way.

Henry wrote of the stagecoach driver, “He swore at a great rate at the hard dollars for giving him so much trouble,” but then went on to say, “It would have been rather hazardous had the driver been a desperate fellow; however, I had not the slightest fear.” Thanks to this hardworking employee and his trustworthy driver, the cash made it to Montreal safely.

Read about it in Henry’s words:

“A pretty large sum of specie [money in the form of coins] having been gathered together in the Kingston Branch, I was ordered to bring it down to Montreal by stage. On one occasion in the month of February, I took down a cargo of specie in boxes and kegs in the ordinary stage, started early in the morning, long before daylight, snowing at a great rate, so that in a short time the roads were hardly visible by the driver. Between Brockville and Cornwall we had to ascend a very steep hill and in attempting to do so the harness, etc., broke, and we were obliged to carry the specie from the bottom of the hill to the top of it, the driver and myself alone were present. At 2 p.m. started off, snow nearly up to my hips to look out for help, and by a light at some distance I was directed to a Hut, and after much talking I prevailed on a man to come to our help. He was at the time attending to a sick person and it was very doubtful if we were to have any help; the boxes and kegs were too heavy without further help to carry up that hill.

We got all right by perseverance and the stage was at last put in order and ascended this steep place, took in all the specie, which had been carried up, and proceeded on our journey, that is the driver and myself; he swore at a great rate at the hard dollars for giving him so much trouble. I think we were upwards of two days on the road – it would have been rather hazardous had the driver been a desperate fellow; however, I had not the slightest fear. Near Isle Perrault, we broke down again, on the small lake, I think its name is St. Francis, and I felt very much relieved at our safe arrival in Montreal.”

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