Alfred Sandham*

From: "Canadian Men & Women of the time 1898"
Ed. By Henry James Morgan, Toronto, William Briggs, Richmond Street West, 1898
(photo by Wm. Notman 1880, collection: McCord Museum)

SANDHAM Alfred, author and numismatist, was born in Montreal, November 19, 1838, and educated at private schools in that city. When very young he left home to take a situation in N. Y. On his return he entered the service of the Montreal Telegraph Co., and was subsequently in that of the Grand Trunk Railway. A change in his religious views led to his appointment as General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A., with headquarters at Montreal. He held this position for 10 years, and whilst holding it employed his leisure in literary work. 

Among Mr. Sandham's publications are: "Ville Marie ; or, Montreal, Past and Present,'' a work which will always be valuable for its pains-taking research; "Coins, Tokens and Medals of Canada," the pioneer work on Canadian numismatics, and several interesting historical and numismatic works published chiefly for private circulation. Among these, some of which are now exceedingly rare, are: "McGill College and its Medals", "Medals Commemorative of the Visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada", "Historic Medals of Canada", "The Trade Tokens of Montreal"  and "Montreal and its Fortifications".  All are illustrated. Mr. Sandham also originated the Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, of which he was for. over 2 years the chief editor, the greater portion of the material used, and the illustrations, being prepared by him personally.

In 1880 he removed to Toronto at the request of the Y.M.C. A., and for 4 years fulfilled the secretarial duties of the Association in that city. He retired from this office to take the editorship of the several publications of the Toronto Willard Tract  Depository. In this position he remained till the transfer of the business to other hands, when he decided to continue on his own account the publication of a religious paper,  to which were subsequently added, by purchase, the magazines he had edited for the Willard Co. 

He married, in 1856, Christina Houston, youngest daughter of the late W. Houston of Montreal. 
[photo: Mrs. Alfred Sandham, by Wm. Notman, 1869, collection: McCord Museum]

While not engaged in any special historic labours, Mr. Sandham has given much attention to book illustrating, and possesses some unique extra illustrated volumes, such as a Bible containing over 20,000 illustrations; a Biographical Cabinet of about 5000 portraits, alphabetically arranged; Morgan's "Tour of the Prince of Wales," copiously illustrated; Hart's "New France"; Dent's "Last 40 Years"; McCarthy's "History of Our Own Times"; and many others containing thousands of illustrations.

Address: -372 Berkeley St., Toronto.

"Mr. Sandham was the instrument of reducing our numismatic chaos to order." - Dr. Kingsford.

From: "Montreal History and Gazeteer to the year 1892
By Rev. J. Douglas Borthwick, John Lovell & Son, Montreal 1892 


This name is connected with Montreal as one of its first English Historians. In 1870 he published a most interesting volume from which the author of these sketches is glad to record that he has received much assistance in their preparation for this work. It is called "Ville Marie ; or, Sketches of Montreal, Past and Present''. This work refers to a great number of facts connected with the history of this city. It is interspersed with maps, plans and portraits, with valuable statistics. It was published by George Bishop & Co.

He is also the author of an interesting and useful work entitled "Coins, Tokens and Medals of Canada." Some years ago he removed from Montreal, and I believe, now lives in Toronto, and has become a painter of good repute. His work of 1870 is now getting scarce, and commanding a higher price than that at which it was published.

See also: 
His brother Henry Sandham

*Researching Henry Sandham......... D.B. (Bruce) Walter   (g-g-grandson)

Return to Notable Montrealers
Return to Montreal Artists
Back to the homepage
Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb