George-Étienne Cartier George-Étienne Cartier, 1863
© Musée McCord Museum, Montréal / William Notman / I-7956, 1863

It is chronic nephritis, a kidney disease named and described by Dr. Richard Bright (1788-1858), Queen Victoria's doctor. In Cartier's day this illness was considered to be incurable and all doctors could do was to try to delay the sad outcome. Sir George experienced the first symptoms, swelling of the lower limbs, in 1871. He passed away in his London apartment on May 20, 1873.