“I’m Here!” Peter Kropotkin Arrives in Montréal

2022 Anniversaries in the History of Canadian Science and Technology

First posted Monday, August 8, 2022 / Yom sheni, 11 Av, 5782

By David Orenstein, Emeritus, Danforth CTI, Toronto


On Sunday, August 8, 1897, Peter Kropotkin wrote to his friend Janes Mavor, in Toronto:

“Sunday evening

“Just in sight of Montreal, after a wonderfully beautiful and difficult passage. Had a let[t]er, on board from your brother Sam. All right. Sisters – all abroad and all well, and of course thousands of greetings to you.

“We just go, Prof. Penck (charming cabin companion and great geographer) and I, to Ottawa on Monday morning, will stay there Monday and on Tuesday. Come to Toronto. We have also the intention to go to Detroit. Our Montreal address will be Queen’s Hotel.

“Thousands of best greetings to you and Mrs Mavor

Yours sincerely, P. Kropotkin”

The next day Kropotkin was in Ottawa. Writing on Monday, August 9, 1897,

The Windsor hotel, Ottawa, he noted that he had arrived with Penck at 1:40 pm. They had the time to only “go through the Geol. Survey & its Museum so… I stay… to go through the Maps of Canada for Reclus, & and see the Experimental Farm. So I must leave before tomorrow night, and will only reach Toronto at 7.00 in the morning.

“I am quite accustomed, thanks to Gadaella, to American ways, I shall manage it splendidly to find my way [to your house].

“My intention is to take the next train to Detroit… to be there … [for] the meeting of the American Association [for the Advancement of Science] lasting only 4 days – Monday to Thursday – and the two other days for excursions.

“I am sorry to delay coming to Toronto, I am quite anxious to see you, and to tell you all I know about your brothers and sisters.

“With best kindest greetings

“Yours very sincerely

“P Kropotkin”

Along the left margin, he writes:

“Must run to meet Dr. Dawson as to club”

“Prof. Penck” was Albrecht Penck who also presented at the 1897 Toronto BAAS and reported back in Vienna to the Verein zur Verbreitung naturwissenschaftlicher Kenntnisse in Wien. It was published as Reisebeobachtungen aus Canada.

“Dr. Dawson” would be George Mercer Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, who played an important rôle in the 1897 BAAS.

But that’s another story!


The Kropotkin-Mavor Correspondence is to be found at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at the University of Toronto. It’s in the manuscript collection MSS 119, where Box 10B is “Peter Kropotkin”. Our letters are in File #5.


Penck’s Reisebeobachtungen aus Canada on the Internet Archive.