J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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the house, fearing the outer barbarians might be wanting in respect to the
saint's effigy, sent it to the General Hospital, where it stood over the
principal entrance until a few years back. They replaced it by a wooden
statue of General Wolfe, sculptured by the Brothers Cholette, at the
request of George Hipps, a loyal butcher. The peregrinations of this
historic relic, in 1838, from Quebec to Halifax - from Halifax to Bermuda,
thence to Portsmouth, and finally to its old niche at Wolfe's corner, St.
John Street, whilst they afforded much sport to the middies of H. M. Ship
_Inconstant_, who visited our port that summer and carried away the
General, were the subject of several newspaper paragraphs in prose and

Finally, the safe return of the "General" with a brand new coat of paint
and varnish in a deal box, consigned to His Worship, the Mayor of Quebec
sent by unknown hands, was made an occasion of rejoicing to every friend
of the British hero whom Quebec contained, and they were not few.

Some of the actors of this practical joke, staunch upholders of
Britannia's sovereignty of the sea, now pace the quarter deck, t'is said,
proud and stern admirals.

The street and hill leading down from the parochial Church, (whose title
was _Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary_,) to the outlet, where Hope Gate was built in 1786, was called
Ste. Famille street from its vicinity to the Cathedral, which, as the
parish church of the citizens of Quebec, was formerly called the Ste.
Famille Church. On the east side, half way up the hill still exist the
ruins of the old homestead of the Seigneurs de Léry - in 1854, occupied by
Sir E. P. Taché, since, sold to the Quebec Seminary. A lofty fence on the
street hides from view the hoary old poplar trees which of yore decked the
front of the old manor. On the opposite side, a little higher up, also
survives the old house of Mr. Jean Langevin, father of the Bishop of
Rimouski, and of Sir H. L. Langevin. Here in the closing days of French
Dominion lived the first Acadian, who brought to Quebec the news of the
dispersion of his compatriots, so eloquently sung by Longfellow, Dr.
Lajus, of French extraction, who settled at Quebec and married a sister of
Bishop Hubert. On the northern angle of this old tenement you now read
"_Ste. Famille_ street."

St. Stanislas street, the western boundary of the ancient estate of the
Jesuits - on the eastern portion of which their college was built in 1637 -
owes its saintly nomenclature to the learned order - no doubt desirous of
handing down to posterity an enduring souvenir of a valiant ascetic,
though youthful member of the fraternity. Its northern end reaches at
right angles to Ste. Hélène street in a line with the old tenement
recently occupied by the late Narcisse Constantin Faucher, Esq.,
Barrister - recently leased by the late Lieut.-Col. John Sewell, one of Sir
Isaac Brock's officers at Queenstown Heights in 1812 In 1835 it was the
home of a Mrs. Montgomery. That year it was burglarized in a somewhat
romantic - shall we say - humane manner by Chambers' murderous gang; the
aged and demure mistress of the house and her young maid servant being
rolled up in the velvety pleats of the parlor carpet and deposited gently,
tenderly and unharmed in the subterranean and discreet region of the
cellar, so that the feelings of either should not be lacerated by the
sight of the robbery going on above stairs.

Who will dare assert that among the sanguinary crew who in 1836, heavily
ironed, bid adieu to Quebec forever, leaving their country for their
country's good - in the British Brig _Ceres_, all bound as permanent
settlers to Van Dieman's Land - who will dare assert there was not some
Jack Sheppard, with a tender spot in his heart towards the youthful
_Briseis_ who acknowledged Mrs. Montgomery's gentle sway.

A conspicuous landmark on St. Stanislas street is Trinity Chapel.

Of yore there stood in rear of the chapel the "Theatre Royal," opened 15th
February, [50] 1832, where the Siddons, Keans and Kembles held forth to
our admiring fathers. Church and theatre both owed their birth to the late
Chief Justice Sewell. The site of this theatre was purchased some years
back by the ecclesiastical authorities of St Patrick Church. Thus
disappeared the fane once sacred to Thespis and Melpomene, its fun-loving
votaries, as such, knew it no more.


The church of the "Holy Trinity," St. Stanislas street, Quebec, was
erected on a site which, judging from the discovery of a skeleton,
when the foundations were laid, had been a cemetery.

The architecture of this church is Doric, and is considered correct
both internally and externally. It is a substantial building of good
proportions, 90 feet in length by 49 in breadth, is supplied with an
organ and bell. It is commodious and capable of seating 700 persons.
The sittings are free. It contains a beautiful marble monument, by
Manning, of London, which was erected to the memory of the late Hon.
Jonathan Sewell, LL.D., the founder of the church, also a few other
tablets in memory of different members of the family of Sewell. The
present incumbent and proprietor is the Rev. Edmund Willoughby Sewell,
M.A., but it is confidently expected that ere long it will pass into
the hands of an incorporated body, with whom the future presentment of
the officiating clergyman will rest.

On a tin-plate on the corner-stone of the chapel, the following
inscription occurs:

"Quebec, 15th September, 1824.

On Thursday was deposited in a private manner, under a stone at
the north-east angle of the new Chapel of Ease to the English
Cathedral, a tin plate having the following Latin inscription:

Anno Dm. Christi MDCCCXXIV Regnante
Georgio Quarto, Britaniarum Rege Fidet
Defensore Reverendissimo Patre in Deo
Jacob Mountain S. T. P. Episcopo Quebecensi,
Hanc Capellam, ad perpetuum honorem
Sacrosanctae Trinitatis, et in usum Fidelium
Ecclesiae Anglican dedicatam Vir honorabilis
Jonothan Sewell, Provinciae Canadae inferioris
Judex Primarius, et Henrietta ejus uxor

Edmundo Willoughby Sewell, clerico, uno de eorum filiis Capellano

G. BLAICKLOCK, _Architecto_
J. PHILIPS, _Conditore_

On the other side is the inscription on the monument:


The Pious and Liberal Founder of this Chapel.
Endowed with talents of no common order
He was selected in early life to fill the highest offices
in this Province
He was appointed Solicitor General A.D. 1793,
Attorney and Advocate General and Judge of the Court of Vice
Admiralty, A.D. 1795, Chief Justice of the Province and Chairman
of the Executive Council A.D. 1809.
Speaker of the Legislative Council A.D. 1809.
Distinguished in his public capacity,
He shone equally conspicuous as a statesman and a jurist.
Naturally mild and courteous, he combined the meekness of the
with the authority of the Judge.
Beloved at home as a kind father, a firm friend and an
affectionate husband.
Respected abroad as an acknowledged example of truth, faithfulness
and integrity;
He has left a name to which not only his descendants in all future
ages, But his country may recur
With just pride, deep reverence, and a grateful recollection.
He was born in Boston, Mass., June 6th, 1766, and died in this
city, in the Fulness of the Faith in Christ, November 13th, 1839
in the 74th year of his age
This tribute to departed worth is erected by his sorrowing widow."

The southern extreme of St. Stanislas street terminates at the
intersection of Ste. Anne street, past the old jail, which dated from
1810. Lugubrious memories crowd round this massive tolbooth - of which the
only traces of the past are some vaulted lock-up or cells beneath the
rooms of the Literary and Historical Society, one of which, provided with
a solid new iron door, is set apart for the reception of the priceless
M.S.S. of the society. The oak flooring of the passages to the cells
exhibit many initials, telling a tale of more than one guilty life - of
remorse - let us hope, of repentance.

The narrow door in the wall and the iron balcony, over the chief entrance
leading formerly to the fatal drop which cut short the earthly career of
the assassin or burglar [51] was speedily removed when the directors of
the Morrin College in 1870 purchased the building from Government to
locate permanently the seat of learning due to the munificence of the late
Joseph Morrin, M.D.

The once familiar inscription above the prison door, the rendering of
which in English was a favourite amusement to many of the juniors of the
High School, or Seminary, on their way to class, that also has

"_Carcer iste bonos a pravis vindicare possit_!"
May this prison teach the wicked for the edification of the good."

The damp, vaulted cells in the basement, where the condemned felon in
silence awaited his doom, or the airy wards above, where the impecunious
debtor or the runaway sailor meditatively or riotously defied their
traditional enemies the constable and policeman, now echo the Hebrew,
Greek and Latin utterances of the Morrin College professors, and on
meeting nights the disquisitions before the Literary and Historical
Society, of lecturers on Canadian history, literature or art.

It is the glory and privilege of the latter institution in accordance with
the object of its Royal Charter, to offer to citizens of all creeds and
nationalities, a neutral ground, sacred to intellectual pursuits. It dates
back to 1823, when His Excellency, George Ramsay, Earl of Dalhousie,
assisted by the late Dr. John Charlton Fisher, LL.D., and ex-editor of the
New York _Albion_, successfully matured a long meditated plan to promote
the study of history and of literature. The Literary and Historical
Society held its first meeting in the _Château St. Louis_. It is curious
to glance over the list of names in its charter. [52] It contained the
leading men on the Bench, in the professions, and in the city. In 1832 the
library and museum occupied a large room in the Union building facing the
Ring. From thence they were transferred to the upper story of the
Parliament Buildings, on Mountain Hill, where a portion of both was
destroyed by the conflagration which burnt down the stately cut-stone
edifice in 1854, with the stone of which in 1860, the Champlain Market
Hall was built. What was saved of the library and museum was transferred
to apartments in St Louis street, then owned by the late George Henderson,
J.P. [53] The next removal, about 1860, brought the institution to Masonic
Hall, corner of Garden and St. Louis streets. Here, also, the fire-fiend
assailed the treasures of knowledge and specimens of natural history, of
the society, which, with its household gods, flitted down to a suite of
rooms above the savings bank apartments in St. John Street, from whence,
about 1870, it issued to become an annual tenant in the north wing of the
Morrin College, where it has flourished ever since.

In the protracted and chequered existence of this pioneer among Canadian
literary associations, one day, above all others is likely from the
preparations - pageant and speeches which marked it, to be long remembered
among Quebecers as a red letter day in the annals of the society. The
celebration in December, 1875 of the centennial of the repulse of
Brigadier General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold, who, at
dawn on the 31st December, 1775, attempted to take the old fortress by
storm. The first, with a number of his followers, met with his death at
Près-de-Ville, in Champlain street; the other was carried wounded in the
knee, to the General Hospital, St. Roch's suburbs, whilst 427 of his
command were taken prisoners of war and incarcerated until September
following in the Quebec Seminary, the Récollet Convent and the Dauphin
Prison, since destroyed, but then existing, a little north of St. John's
Gate, inside. The worthy commander of the "B" Battery, Lieut.-Col. T. B.
Strange, R.A., then stationed at the Citadel of Quebec, having consented to
narrate the incidents which marked the attack of Brigadier General Richard
Montgomery at Près-de-Ville (which we reserve for another page,) the
description of Col. Benedict Arnold's assault on the Sault-au-Matelot
barriers, was, left to ourselves. We subjoin a portion of the address
delivered by us at this memorable centenary. It embodies an important
incident of Quebec history:



"The event which we intend commemorating this evening, is one at
peculiar interest to us as Canadians, and more especially so to us as
Quebecers, the narrow, I may say, the providential escape of the whole
Province from foreign subjugation one century ago. It is less a
chapter of Canadian annals I purpose to read to you this night, than
some minute details little known, and gleaned from the journals left
by eye witnesses of the thrilling hand to hand fight which took place
a few hundred yards from where you sit, under our walls, on the 31st
December, 1775, between Col. Arnold's New England soldiery and our own

Possibly, you may not all realize the critical position of the city on
that memorable morning. Next day, a Sunday, ushered in the new year.
Think you there was much "visiting," much festivity, on that new
year's day? alas! though victory crowned our banner, there was
mourning in too many Canadian homes; we, too, had to bury our dead.

Let us take a rapid glimpse of what had proceeded the assault.

Two formidable parties, under experienced leaders, in execution of the
campaign planned by George Washington and our former Deputy Post
Master General, the able Benjamin Franklin, had united under the walls
of Quebec. Both leaders intimately knew its highways and by-ways.
Brigadier General Richard Montgomery, before settling near New York,
had held a lieutenant's commission in His Britannic Majesty's 17th
Foot, had taken part in the war of the conquest, in 1759, and had
visited Quebec. Col. Benedict Arnold, attracted by the fame of our
Norman horses, had more than once been in the city with the object of
trading in them.

Benedict Arnold was indeed a daring commander. His successful journey
through trackless forests between Cambridge and Quebec - his descent in
boats through rivers choked with ice, and through dangerous rapids;
the cold, hunger and exposure endured by himself and his soldiers,
were feats of endurance of which any nation might justly feel proud.

Major-General Sir James Carmichael Smyth, a high authority on such
matters, says of this winter campaign: "It is, perhaps, one of the
most wonderful instances of perseverance and spirit upon record." So
much for the endurance and bravery of our foes. I am compelled to pass
unnoticed many important incidents of the campaign in order to reach
sooner the main facts.

What was the real state of the Colony on that identical 31st December,
one hundred years ago? Why, it was simply desperate. The wave of
invasion had surged over our border. Fort after fort, city after city,
had capitulated - Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Fort St. John, Fort
Chambly, Montreal, Sorel, Three Rivers. Montgomery with his victorious
bands had borne everything before him like a tornado. The Canadian
peasantry dreaded the very sight of warriors who must be ball-proof,
as they were supposed, by a curious mistake, to be "incased in plate-
iron," _vêtus de tole_, instead _de toile_. [54] The red [54a] and
black flag of successful rebellion floated over the suburbs of Quebec.
Morgan's and Humphries' riflemen were thundering at the very gates of
the city, those dear old walls - (loud applause) - which some Vandals
are longing to demolish, alone kept away the wolf.

Levi, Sillery, Ste Foye, Lorette, Charlesbourg, the Island of Orleans,
Beauport and every inch of British territory around the city were in
possession of the invaders, every house in the suburbs sheltered an
enemy - every bush in the country might conceal a deadly foe. Treachery
stalked within the camp - disaffection was busy inside and outside of
the walls. At first many of the citizens, English as well as French,
seemed disinclined to take part in the great family quarrel which had
originated at Boston - the British of New England pitted against the
British of Canada. The confusion of ideas and opinions must at first
have been great. Several old British officers who had served in the
wars of the conquest of Canada, had turned their swords against their
old messmates - their brothers-in-arms - amongst others, Richard
Montgomery, Moses Hazen and Donald Campbell. Quebec, denuded of its
regulars, had indeed a most gloomy prospect to look upon. No soldiers
to man her walls except her citizens unaccustomed to warfare - no
succour to expect from England till the following spring - scantiness
of provisions and a terrified peasantry who had not the power, often
no desire, to penetrate into the beleaguered city during winter.

Were not these trying times for our worthy sires?

Such was the posture of affairs, when to the general joy, our gallant
Governor Guy Carleton, returned and rejoined his dauntless little army
at Quebec, having succeeded, thanks to Captain Bouchette and other
brave men, in eluding the vigilance of the enemy in possession of
Three Rivers, Sorel and Montreal. Turn over the records of those days
and yon will see the importance our fathers attached to the results of
the Sault-au-Matelot and Près-de-Ville engagements.

For more than twenty-five years, the 31st December, 1775, was annually
commemorated, generally by a club dinner given at Ferguson's Hotel,
(Freemasons' Hall?) or at some other hotel of note - sometimes a
Château ball was added by the Governor of the Province. In 1778, we
find in the old _Quebec Gazette_, a grand _fête champêtre_, given by
Lady Maria Carleton and her gallant partner Sir Guy, at the Red House,
a fashionable rustic Hostelry, kept by Alex. Menut, the prince of
Canadian _Soyers_ of those days, who had been _Maître d'Hôtel_ to
General Murray, and selected that year by Their Excellencies. It stood
on the Little River road, (the land is now owned by Mr. Tozer) about
two miles from Quebec. It reads thus in the _Gazette_ of 8th January,

Quebec, 8th January, 1778._

"Yesterday, seventh night, being the anniversary of the victory
obtained over the Rebels in their attack upon this City in the year
1775, a most elegant Ball and Supper were given at Menut's Tavern by
the Gentlemen who served in the Garrison during that Memorable Winter.
The Company, consisting of upwards of two hundred and thirty Ladies
and Gentlemen, made a grand and brilliant appearance, and nothing but
mirth and good humour reigned all night long. About half-past six, His
Excellency, Sir Guy Carleton, Knight of the Bath, our worthy Governor
and Successful General, dressed in the militia uniform, (which added
lustre to the Ribbon and Star) as were also all the gentlemen of that
corps who served under him during the siege, entered the assembly room
accompanied by Lady Maria, &c., &c., and the Ball was soon opened by
her Ladyship and the Honorable Henry Caldwell, Lieutenant Colonel
Commandant of the British Militia. The dancing continued until half-
past twelve, when the Ladies were conducted into the supper room,
where Mr. Menut exhibited fresh proofs of that superior excellence in
the _culinary_ art he so justly claims above his Peers.... The
company in general broke up about four in the morning, highly
satisfied with their entertainment and in perfect good humour with one
another. May that disposition prevail until the next and every
succeeding 31st of December, and may each return of that glorious day
(the event of which was not only the preservation of this garrison;
but of the whole Province) be commemorated with the same spirit and
unanimity in grateful remembrance of our happy deliverance from the
snares of the enemy, and with grateful acknowledgements of those
blessings of peace and tranquility of Government and Laws we now enjoy
in consequence of that day's success."

The _Gazette_ of the following year carefully chronicles the gathering
of the Veterans of 1775. - "Thursday last being the anniversary of the
31st December, a Day which will be ever famous in the annals of this
country for the defeat of Faction and Rebellion, the same was observed
with the utmost festivity In the evening a ball and cold Collation was
given by the gentlemen who composed the Garrison in the winter of
1775, to His Excellency and a numerous and brilliant assembly of
Ladies and Gentlemen, the satisfaction every one felt in Commemorating
so Glorious an event, strongly appeared by the joy which was visible
in every contenance."

In 1790, according to the _Quebec Herald_, the annual dinner was
held at the _Merchant's Coffee House_, by about 30 survivors of
the Veterans, who agreed to meet twice a year, instead of once, their
joviality apparently increasing with their age.

In 1794, [55] the _Gazette_ acquaints us that the Anniversary
Dinner was to be held at Ferguson's Hotel, on the 6th May. [56] We
find both nationalities fraternising in these loyal demonstrations. M.
DeBonne (afterwards Judge DeBonne) taking his place next to loyal John
Coffin, of Près-de-Ville fame, and probably Simon Fraser and the Hon.
Hugh Finlay, will join Lieutenant Dambourgès and Col Dupré, in
toasting King George III. under the approving eye of Lt. Col.
Caldwell, Wolfe's Deputy Quarter-Master General. Col. Caldwell, lived
to a green old age, and expired in this city in 1810. Our esteemed
fellow-citizen, Errol Boyd Lindsay, remembers him well, and in front
of whom I stand, a stalwart Volunteer of 1837, Col. Gugy, is now
relating how when a lad he once dined with Col. Caldwell, some seventy
years ago, at Belmont, amidst excellent cheer.

The _Quebec Gazette_ teems with loyal English and French songs of
1775, for a quarter of a century, and for more than twenty-five years
the anniversary banquet, ball or dinner was religiously kept up.

But we must hie away from these "junketings" - these festive boards,
which our loyal ancestors seem to have infinitely enjoyed. We must hie
away the long wished for "snow storm," the signal of attack has come.
'Tis five o'clock before dawn. Hark to the rattle of the alarm drum.
Hark! Hark to the tolling of every city bell (and you know Quebec
bells are numerous) louder! louder even than the voice of the easterly
storm. To ARMS! To ARMS! resounds in the Market Place - the _Place
d'Armes_ - and in the streets of our slumbering city.

Instead of giving you my views on the attack, I shall summon from the
silent, the meditative past, one of the stirring actors in this
thrilling encounter, an intrepid and youthful Volunteer, under Arnold,
then aged seventeen years, John Joseph Henry. He will tell you how his
countrymen attacked us:

"It was not," says Judge Henry, "until the night of the 31st
December, 1775, that such kind of weather ensued as was considered
favorable for the assault. The fore part of the night was
admirably enlightened by a luminous moon. Many of us, officers as

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 12 of 59)