J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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Dufferin, in the year of grace, 1875 - on the opposite side of the
room, under a similar spiky coronet of bristling steel, was hung the
sword of the dead and vanquished, but honoured and revered hero, the
trusty blade which only left Montgomery's hands, when in his death-
throes he 'like a soldier fell,' and the pitiless snow became his
winding-sheet. On a table below this interesting and valuable historic
relic, now in possession, as an heirloom, of J. Thompson Harrower,
Esq., of this city, was exhibited the full uniform of an artillery
officer of the year 1775. Several quaint old sketches and paintings
were placed around the Library, which, with the Museum, was converted
for the time into an extempore conversazione hall, and while the
melodies of the 'B' Battery band were wafted hither and thither
through the building, the dames and cavaliers gossiped pleasantly over
their tea or coffee and delicacies provided by the members for the
guests, and declared, with much show of reason, that the Literary and
Historical Society's centennial entertainment was a red-letter day in
the annals of that learned and well-deserving body."


This little church, of which the corner stone was laid by the Marquis de
Tracy, "Lieutenant du Roi, dans toutes ses possessions Françaises en
Amérique," on 31st May, 1666, existed until 1807. "It is built," says
Kalm, "in the form of a cross. It has a round steeple, and is the only
church that has a clock." The oldest inhabitant can yet recall, from
memory, the spot where it stood, even if we had not the excellent drawing
made of it with a half dozen of other Quebec views, by an officer in
Wolfe's fleet, Captain Richard Short. It stood on the site recently
occupied by the shambles, in the Upper Town, facing the Russell House.
Captain Short's pencil bears again testimony to the exactitude, even in
minute things, of Kalm's descriptions: his Quebec horses, harnessed one
before the other to carts. You see in front of the church, in Captain
Short's sketch, three good sized horses, harnessed one before the other,
drawing a heavily laden two-wheeled cart. The church was also used until
1807 as a place of worship for Protestants. Be careful not to confound the
Jesuits' Church with the small chapel in the interior of their college
(the old Jesuit Barracks) contiguous thereto. This latter chapel had been
commenced on the 11th July, 1650. The Seminary Chapel and Ursulines
Church, after the destruction by shot and shell, in 1759, of the large
Roman Catholic Cathedral, were used for a time as parish churches. From
beneath the chief altar of the Jesuits' Church was removed, on the 14th
May, 1807, the small leaden box containing the heart of the founder of the
Ursulines' Convent, Madame de la Peltrie, previously deposited there in
accordance with the terms of her last will.

You can see that the pick-axe and mattock of the "_bande noire_" who
robbed our city walls of their stones, and demolished the Jesuits' College
and city gates, were busily employed long before 1871.


There are few, we will venture to say, who, in their daily walk up or down
Fabrique Street, do not miss this hoary and familiar land mark, the
Jesuits' College. When its removal was recently decreed, for a long time
it resisted the united assaults of hammer and pick-axe, and yielded,
finally, to the terrific power of dynamite alone.

The Jesuits' College, older than Harvard College, at Boston, takes one
back to the dawn of Canadian history. Concerning the venerable
institution, we translate the following from the French of Mr. T. B.
Bédard. It appeared originally in the _Journal de Quebec_: -

"The recent discovery of human bones at the Jesuit Barracks has
excited the curiosity of the public in general, and especially of
antiquarians and all interested in historical research. Naturally, the
question presents itself - who were the individuals interred where
these bones were found, and what was this place of sepulture? An
attentive study of the subject leads me to believe that the remains of
the three skeletons discovered, with two skulls only, are those of
Brother Jean Liégeois, Père du Quen, and Père Francois du Peron,
deceased at Chambly, and whose mortal remains were sent to Quebec for
interment. The spot where the bones were found must have been the site
of the chapel built at the same time as the other portions of the
Jesuits' College. But inasmuch as the demolition of this more than
venerable edifice approaches completion, a sketch of the history of
its construction may not be amiss.

"Let us preface by saying, with the learned Abbés Laverdière and
Casgrain, that the residence or the Convent of Notre Dame de la
Recouvrance, burnt together with the chapel of the same name in 1640,
should not be confounded with the College (turned later on into
barracks), the foundations of which were not laid until several years
afterwards. The Chapel of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance and the
Jesuits' house attached thereto, were situated upon the ground upon
which the Anglican Cathedral now stands. In the conflagration of 1640,
chapel and residence were destroyed; the registers of Civil Status
burnt, and the Jesuits lost all their effects. 'We had gathered
together in that house,' writes Father Lejeune, 'as in a little store,
all the maintenance and support of our other residences and of our
missions. Linen, clothing, and all the other necessaries for twenty-
seven persons whom we had among the Hurons, were all ready to be
conveyed by water into that distant country.' After this disaster, the
Jesuits were sheltered for some time at the Hôtel Dieu. In 1637 the
Fathers of the Company of Jesus in Canada set forth to the Company of
New France that they wished to build a college and a seminary for the
instruction of Indian youths, the Hurons dwelling 200 leagues from
Quebec having sent them six, with the promise of a larger number, and
also for the education of the country, and that, for this purpose,
they sought a grant of land. The Company of New France awarded them
twelve acres of ground in Quebec to build a seminary, church,
residence, &c. This grant was made at a meeting of the Directors of
the Company, at the hôtel of the celebrated Fouquet, on the 18th
March, 1637. It was not, however, until the spring of 1647 that the
work of digging the foundations of the College was begun - the first
stone being laid on the 12th June. 'The same day,' says the _Journal
des Jésuites_, 'was laid the first stone of the foundations of the
offices of the main-building of the Quebec house. In 1648, we
completed the half of the large main-building, in 1649, our building
was completed as regards the exterior masonry and the roof; but the
interior had not yet been touched.' In July, 1650, the foundations of
the chapel were commenced, and on the 18th October, 1651, it was
sufficiently advanced to allow the pupils of the college to receive
therein Governor de Lauzon. 'The scholars,' says again the _Journal
des Jésuites_, 'received Monsieur the Governor in our new chapel,
_latinâ oratione et versibus gallicis_, &c., &c. The Indians
(scholars) danced, when mass was first celebrated in the chapel.' On
the 29th May, 1655, a great misfortune befell the good Fathers. The
brother known as Jean Liégeois was treacherously assassinated. He was
their business man; several times he had crossed over from Canada to
France in their interests; he was also their architect, and had
superintended the building of the residences at their various
missions, as well as the erection of the college. On the day in
question, while engaged in the fields near Sillery, seven or eight
Agniers (Iroquois) suddenly surrounded him, captured him without
resistance, and, put a bullet through his heart, and, adds the
_Journal des Jésuites_, one of them scalped him, while another
chopped off his head, which they loft upon the spot. On the following
day the Algonquins found his body and brought it to Sillery, whence it
was conveyed in a boat to Quebec, where it was exposed in the chapel,
and, on the 31st May, after the usual offices, 'it was interred at the
lower end of the chapel; that is to say, in one of the two sides where
the altar of the Congregation des Messieurs is now located.' To
understand these last words, it is necessary to explain that nearly
two years later, on the 14th February, 1657, Father Poncet founded
this congregation; and it was M. de Lauzon-Charny, Master of the Woods
and Forests of New France, son of Governor de Lauzon, who was elected
Prefect of the first members of the body to the number of twelve. This
same M. de Charny had married the daughter of M. Giffard, the first
Seigneur of Beauport; but his wife dying two years after that
marriage, M. de Charny passed over to France, where he entered holy
orders, subsequently returning to Canada with Mgr. de Laval, whose
grand vicar he became, as well as the first ecclesiastical dignitary,
inasmuch as he replaced him at the Conseil Souverain at the period of
the difficulties between the Bishop of Petrea and Governor de Mesy.

"But to return to the interments in the Jesuits' Chapel. The next
which took place was that of Father de Quen, who died on the 8th
October, 1659, of contagious fever brought into the colony by vessels
from beyond the seas. It was he, who, in 1647, discovered Lake St.
John, and, in 1653, celebrated the Mass at the Hôtel Dieu, when the
Sister Marie de L'Incarnation embraced the religious profession.
Father de Quen was buried on the morning of the 9th _praesente
corpore, dictae duae missae privatae, in summo altari, dum diceretur
officium_. He was 59 years of age. The _Journal des Jésuites_
does not say that he was interred in the chapel, but it is easy to
infer the fact from the _two private_ masses said in presence of
the body, and also because the entry of his burial does not appear in
the parish register. Moreover, it is also the opinion of Rev. Messrs.
Laverdière and Casgrain, as published in the _Journal des Jésuites_.
On the 15th November, 1665, arrived at Quebec, coming from the
Richelieu River, a vessel bringing the body of Father François du
Peron, who died on the 10th at Fort St. Louis (Chambly). The body was
exposed in the Chapel of the Congregation, and 'on the 16th, after the
service at which the Marquis de Tracy assisted, it was interred in the
vault of the chapel towards the confessional on the side of the
street,' and Father le Mercier, who wrote the foregoing, adds that
'there remains room only for another body.'

"From the preceding, it appears that three interments took place in
the Jesuits' Chapel (the only ones mentioned in the _Journal des
Jésuites_), and it is probable that the place remaining for only
one more body was never filled. The remains of three bodies having
been found, it seems to me therefore reasonable to conclude that they
are those of Brother Liégeois and Fathers de Quen and du Peron. It is
true only two skulls have been recovered, but it must be remembered
that Brother Liégeois had his head chopped off and left upon the spot,
as remarks the text, so that it is easy to conjecture that the
Iroquois dragged his body further off, when it was found in a headless
condition and thus buried. With respect to the site of the chapel, the
text already cited relative to Father du Peron indicates sufficiently
that it was alongside the street; and a reference to the map of Quebec
in 1660 shows in fact the street skirting the Jesuits' property as it
does to-day. Further, the excavations which, at the request of Père
Sachez, Dr. Larue and others, Hon. Mr. Joly, with a good will which
cannot be too highly praised, has ordered to be made, have already
laid bare the foundations of a well outlined building upon the very
site where tradition locates the chapel and where the bones have been

"As it was stated at the time of the finding of the skeletons that one
of them was supposed to be that of a nun of the Hôtel Dieu, Mr. Bédard
applied to the authorities of that institution for information on the
subject and received an answer from the records which conclusively
proves that the nun in question was buried in the vault of the
Jesuits' Church and not in their Chapel."

Though a considerable sum had been granted to foster Jesuit establishments
at Quebec by a young French nobleman, René de Rohault, son of the Marquis
de Gamache, as early as 1626, it was on the 18th March, 1637, only, that
the ground to build on, "twelve arpents of land, in the vicinity of Fort
St. Louis" were granted to the Jesuit Fathers. In the early times, we find
this famous seat of learning playing a prominent part in all public
pageants; its annual examinations and distribution of prizes called
together the _élite_ of Quebec society. The leading pupils had, in
poetry and in verse, congratulated Governor d'Argenson on his arrival in
1658. On the 2nd July, 1666, a public examination on logic brought out,
with great advantage, two most promising youths, the famous Louis Jolliet,
who later on joined Father Marquette in his discovery of the Mississippi,
and a Three Rivers youth, Pierre de Francheville, who intended to enter
Holy Orders. The learned Intendant Talon was an examiner; he was remarked
for the erudition his Latin questions displayed. Memory likes to revert to
the times when the illustrious Bossuet was undergoing his Latin
examinations at Navarre, with the Great Condé as his examiner; France's
first sacred orator confronted by her most illustrious general.

How many thrilling memories were recalled by this grim old structure?
"Under its venerable roof, oft had met the pioneer missionaries of New
France, the band of martyrs, the geographers, discoverers, _savants_
and historians of this learned order: Dolbeau, de Quen, Druilletes,
Daniel, de la Brosse, de Crepieul, de Carheil, Bréboeuf, Lallemant,
Jogues, de Noue, Raimbeault, Albanel, Chaumonot, Dablon, Ménard, LeJeune,
Massé, Vimont, Ragueneau, Charlevoix, [58] and crowds of others." Here
they assembled to receive from the General of the Jesuits their orders, to
compare notes, mayhap to discuss the news of the death or of the success
of some of their indefatigable explorers of the great West; how the "good
word" had been fearlessly carried to the distant shores of Lake Huron, to
the _bayous_ and perfumed groves of Florida, or to the trackless and
frozen regions of Hudson's Bay.

Later on, when France had suppressed the order of the Jesuits, and when
her lily banner had disappeared from our midst, the College and its
grounds were appropriated to other uses - alas! less congenial.

The roll of the English drum and the sharp "word of command" of a British
adjutant or of his drill sergeant, for a century or more, resounded in the
halls, in which Latin orisons were formerly sung; and in the classic
grounds and grassy court, [59] canopied by those stately oaks and elms,
which our sires yet remember, to which the good Fathers retreated in sweet
seclusion, to "say" their _Breviaries_ and tell their beads, might have
been heard the coarse joke of the guard room and coarser oath of the

It had been claimed as a "magazine for the army contractor's provisions on
14th November, 1760." On the 4th June, 1765, His Excellency General James
Murray had it surveyed and appropriated for quarters and barracks for the
troops, excepting some apartments. The court and garden was used as a
drill and parade ground until the departure of Albion's soldiers. Here was
read on the 14th November, 1843, by Major-General Sir Jas. Hope's
direction, the order of the day, at the morning parade, congratulating
Major Bennet and the brave men of the 1st Royals, whom he was escorting to
England in the ill-fated transport "Premier," on the discipline and good
conduct manifested by them during the incredible perils they had escaped
at Cape Chatte when the Premier was stranded.

How singular, how sad to think that this loved, this glorious relic of the
French _régime_, entire even to the Jesuit College arms, carved in
stone over its chief entrance, should have remained sacred and intact
during the century of occupation by English soldiery - and that its
destruction should have been decreed so soon as the British legions, by
their departure, in 1871, had virtually handed it over to the French
Province of Quebec?

The discovery of the 28th August, 1878, of human remains beneath the floor
of this building - presumed to be those of some of the early missionaries -
induced the authorities to institute a careful search during its
demolition. These bones and others exhumed on the 31st August, and on the
1st and 9th September, 1878, were pronounced by two members of the
Faculty, Drs. Hubert Larue and Chas. E. Lemieux, both Professors of the
Laval University, (who signed a certificate to that effect) to be the
remains of three [60] persons of the male sex and of three [61] persons of
the female sex. Some silver and copper coins were also found, which with
these mouldering remains of humanity, were deposited under lock and key in
a wooden box; and in September, 1878, the whole was placed in a small but
substantial stone structure, in the court of the Jesuit Barracks, known as
the "Regimental Magazine," pending their delivery for permanent disposal
to Rev. Père Sachez, Superior of the Jesuits Order in Quebec.

In May, 1879, on opening this magazine, it was found that the venerable
bones, box and all had disappeared, the staple of the padlock on the door
having been forced. By whom and for what purpose, the robbery?


Let us walk on, and view with the Professor's eyes the adjoining public
edifice in 1749, the Récollet Convent, "a spacious building," says Kalm,
"two story high, with a large orchard and kitchen garden." It stood
apparently on the south-eastern extremity of the area, on which the
Anglican Cathedral was built in 1804, across what is now the southern
prolongation of Treasury Street; it is said its eastern end occupied a
portion of the site now occupied by the old _Place d'Armes_ - now the

Its church or chapel was, on 6th September, 1796, destroyed by fire; two
eye-witnesses of the conflagration, Philippe Aubert DeGaspé and Deputy-
Commissary-General James Thompson, the first in his _Mémoires_, the second
in his unpublished _Diary_, have vividly portrayed the accident.

"At the date of the conflagration of the Récollets Church, 6th
September, 1796, the bodies of those who had been interred there were
taken up. The remains of persons of note, those among others of Count
de Frontenac, were re-interred in the Cathedral (now the Basilica), it
is said, under the floor of the Chapel N. D. of Pity. The leaden
coffins, which, it appears, had been placed on iron bars in the
Récollets Church, had been partially melted by the fire. In Count de
Frontenac's coffin was found a small leaden box, which contained the
heart of that Governor. According to a tradition, handed down by Frère
Louis, the heart of Count de Frontenac was, after his death, sent to
his widow in France. But the haughty Countess refused to receive it,
saying that 'she did not want a dead heart, which when beating did not
belong to her.' The casket containing the heart was sent back to
Canada and replaced in the Count's coffin, where it was found after
the fire." (_Abbé H. R. Casgrain_.)

The Church faced the Ring and the old Château; it formed part of the
Récollet Convent, "a vast quadrangular building, with a court and well
stocked orchard" on Garden Street; it was occasionally used as a state
prison. The Huguenot and agitator, Pierre DuCalvet, [62] spent some dreary
days in its cells in 1781-84; and during the summer of 1776, a young
volunteer under Benedict Arnold, John Joseph Henry, (who lived to become a
distinguished Pennsylvania Judge), was immured in this monastery, after
his capture by the British, at the unsuccessful attack in Sault-au-Matelot
Street, on the 31st December, 1775, as he graphically relates in his
_Memoirs_. It was a monastery of the Order of Saint Francis. The
Provincial, in 1793, a well-known, witty, jovial and eccentric personage,
Father Félix DeBerey, had more than once dined and wined His Royal
Highness Prince Edward, the father of our gracious Sovereign, when
stationed in our garrison in 1791-4, with his regiment, the 7th Fusiliers.

The Récollet Church was also a sacred and last resting place for the
illustrious dead. Of the six French Governors who expired at Quebec, four
slept within its silent vaults, until the translation, in 1796, of their
ashes to the vaults of the Basilica, viz: (1) Frontenac, (2) de Callières,
(3) Vaudreuil, (4) de la Jonquière. [63] Governor de Mesy had been buried
in the Hôtel-Dieu Cemetery, and the first Governor, de Champlain, it is
generally believed, was interred near the Château Saint Louis, in a
"sépulchre particulier," near the spot now surmounted by his bust, on
which, in 1871, was erected the new Post Office.

On the south-west side of the Château, on the site where stands M. A.
Berthelot's old dwelling on St. Louis Street, now owned by James Dunbar,
Esq., Q.C., could be seen a building devoted to the administration of
Justice, _La Sénéchaussée_ (Séneschal's Jurisdiction), and which bore
the name of "The Palace." It was doubtless there that, in 1664, the
Supreme Council held its sessions. In 1665 it was assigned to the Marquis
de Tracy, for a residence whilst in the colony. From the _Place d'Armes_,
the higher road (_Grande Allée_) took its departure and led to Cap Rouge.
On the right and left of this road, were several small lots of land given
to certain persons for the purpose of being built upon. The Indian Fort
was that entrenchment of which we have spoken, which served as a last
hiding place to the sad remains of the once powerful Huron nation, forming
in all eighty four souls, in the year 1665. It had continued to be
occupied by them up to the peace with the Iroquois. After the arrival of
the troops, they took their departure in order to devote themselves to the
cultivation of the lands.

Besides the buildings of the Reverend Jesuit Fathers, those of the
Ursulines (nuns), and those of the Hospital (Hôtel Dieu), in the Upper
Town, could be seen in a house situated behind the altar part of the
Parish Church, where dwelt Monseigneur de Laval. It was, probably, what he
called his Seminary, and where he caused some young men to be educated,
destined afterwards for the priesthood.

It was at the Seminary the worthy prelate resided with his priests, to the
number of eight, which, at that period, comprised all the secular clergy
of Quebec. There, also, was the Church of Notre Dame, in the form of a
Latin cross. [64]

Couillard Street calls up one of the most important personages of the era
of Champlain, Guillaume Couillard, the ancestor of Madame Alexandre de
Léry _née_ Couillard. It would fill a volume to retrace the historical
incidents which attach themselves to "La Grande Place du Fort," which in
the early part of the century was known as the "Grand Parade" before the
Castle, and is now called the _Ring_. We have pointed out a goodly number
in the first pages (10-16) of the "Album du Touriste." To what we have
already said we shall add the following details:


It would appear that the site upon which the Union Hotel was built [65]
(1805), and where previously stood the dwelling of Dr. Longmore, Staff
Medical Officer, now occupied by the offices of the _Journal de Quebec,
&c._, was owned by Governor D'Ailleboust, about the year 1650. He had
reserved to himself, on the 10th January, 1649, the strip of ground
comprised between Fort and Treasury Streets on the one side, and the
streets Buade and Ste. Anne on the other side. At the corner of Treasury
and Buade Streets, on the west, Jean Côté possessed a piece of ground
(_emplacement_) which he presented as a dowry in 1649, to his daughter

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 14 of 59)