J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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recklessly; those worthy citizens who had filled without stipend
numerous civic offices, with a zeal, a whole-heartedness seldom met
with in the present day - at once churchwardens, justices of the peace,
city fathers, members of societies for the promotion of agriculture,
of education, for the prevention of fires; who never sat up later than
nine of the clock p.m., except on those nights when they went to the
old Parliament Building to listen in awe to fiery Papineau or eloquent
Bourdages thunder against the _Bureaucracy_; who subscribed and
paid liberally towards every work of religion, of charity, of
patriotism; who every Saturday glanced with trembling eye over the
columns of the _Official Gazette_, to ascertain whether Government had
not dismissed them from the Militia or Commission of the Peace, for
having attended a public meeting, and having either proposed or
seconded a motion backing up Papineau and censuring the Governor.
Thrilling - jocund - simple war-like time of 1837, where art thou

The "sunny Esplanade," the "Club," the "Platform," in those days "rather
small," the "Rink," "Montmorency Falls," "Lake Charles," the "Citadel" and
its "hog's-back," it would appear, inspired the bard of the 25th King's
Own Borderers - for years forming part of our garrison - on this favourite
regiment embarking for England, to waft to the old Rock the following
poetic tribute.—


Adieu, ye joys of fair Quebec!
We've got what's coarsely termed the sack.
Adieu, kind homes that we have entered;
What hopes and joys are around ye centered!
Adieu, ye flights of Lower Town stairs!
To mount you often, no one cares.
Adieu, that Club, with cook whose skill
Makes none begrudge his dinner bill.
Adieu, O sunny Esplanade!
You suit us loungers to a shade.
Adieu, thou Platform, rather small,
For upper-ten, the band and all.
And Music Hall! adieu to thee!
Ne'er kinder audiences we'll see;
There on each 'Stadacona' night,
'Ye antient citie' proves its right
To boast of beauty, whose fair fame,
To us at Malta even came.
Adieu, O Rink, and 'thrilling steel,'
Another sort of thrill we feel,
As eye entranced, those forms we follow,
And see the Graces beaten hollow.
Adieu, John's Gate! your mud and mire
Must end in time, _as does each fire_!
Adieu, that pleasant four-mile round,
By bilious subs so useful found.
Adieu, Cathedral! and that choir,
All eye and ear could well desire.
Adieu, that service - half-past three—
And chance walks after, home to tea.
And 'city fathers,' too, adieu!
Sorry we shan't know more of you.
Adieu, your daughters passing fair,
In dancing, skating, who so rare?
Adieu, too soon, O Citadel!
Adieu, hogs-back, we like thee well,
Though when on _poudré_ days we've crossed,
Noses and ears we've all but lost.
Adieu, to Montmorency's Fall!
Adieu, ye ice-cones large and small!
Who can forget the _traîneau's_ leap
From off that icy height, so steep;
It takes your breath as clean away
As plunge in air - at best you may
Get safely down, and borne along,
Run till upset; but ah! if wrong
At first, you take to turning round,
The _traîneau_ leaves you, and you're found
Down at the bottom, rolling still,
Shaken and bruised and feeling ill.
Adieu, ye lakes and all the fishing!
To cast a fly we've long been wishing.
One last adieu! sorry are we
That this must be our p.p.c.!
Folly to think we'll feel resigned
In leaving you, who've proved so kind.
Our bark of happiness goes wreck,
In quitting you, far-famed Quebec!
_ - P.P.C., of the 25th K.O.B._

Our thoroughfares, our promenades, even in those dreary months, when the
northern blast howls over the Canadian landscape, have some blithsome
gleams of sunshine. Never shall we forget one bright, frosty January
afternoon, about four o'clock, in the year 1872, when solitary, though
not sad, standing on Durham [80] Terrace, was unveiled to us "a most
magnificent picture, a scene of glorified nature painted by the hand of
the Creator. The setting sun had charged the skies with all its gorgeous
heraldry of purple and crimson and gold, and the tints were diffused and
reflected through fleecy clouds, becoming softer and richer through
expansion. The mountain tops, wood-crowned, where the light and shadow
appeared to be struggling for mastery, stood out in relief from the white
plain, and stretching away in indistinct, dreamy distances finally seemed
to blend with the painted skies. The ice-covered bay was lit up with
glowing shades, in contrast with the deep blue of the clear water beyond;
from which the island rose, and into which the point jutted with grand
picturesqueness; the light played through the frost-adorned, but still
sombre pines, and spread out over deserted fields. Levis and the south
shore received not so much of the illumination, and the grimness of the
Citadel served as a contrast and a relief to the eye bewildered with the
unaccustomed grandeur. But as the sun sank deeper behind the eternal
hills, shadows began to fall, and the bright colours toned down to the
grey of dusk, stars shone out, the grey was chased away, and the azure,
diamond-dotted skies told not of the glory of sunset which had so shortly
before suffused them." - (_Morning Chronicle_.)

We have just seen described the incomparable panorama which a winter
sunset disclosed from the lofty promenade, to which the Earl of Dufferin
has bequeathed his name. Let us now accompany one of our genial summer
butterflies, fluttering through the mazes of old Stadacona escorting a
bride; let us listen to W. D. Howells in the WEDDING JOURNEY. "Nothing, I
think, more enforces the illusion of Southern Europe in Quebec than the
Sunday-night promenading on the Durham (now Dufferin) Terrace. This is the
ample span on the brow of the cliff to the left of the Citadel, the
noblest and most commanding position in the whole city, which was formerly
occupied by the old Castle of St. Louis, where dwelt the brave Count
Frontenac and his splendid successors of the French _régime_. The
castle went the way of Quebec by fire some forty years ago (23rd January,
1834), and Lord Durham levelled the site and made it a public promenade. A
stately arcade of solid masonry supports it on the brink of the rock, and
an iron parapet incloses it; there are a few seats to lounge upon, and
some idle old guns for the children to clamber over and play with. A soft
twilight had followed the day, and there was just enough obscurity to hide
from a willing eye the Northern and New World facts of the scene, and to
leave in more romantic relief the citadel dark against the mellow evening,
and the people gossiping from window to window across the narrow streets
of the Lower Town. The Terrace itself was densely thronged, and there was
a constant coming and going of the promenaders, and each formally paced
back and forth upon the planking for a certain time, and then went quietly
home, giving place to new arrivals. They were nearly all French, and they
were not generally, it seemed, of the first fashion, but rather of
middling condition in life; the English being represented only by a few
young fellows, and now and then a red-faced old gentleman with an Indian
scarf trailing from his hat. There were some fair American costumes and
faces in the crowd, but it was essentially Quebecian. The young girls,
walking in pairs, or with their lovers, had the true touch of provincial
unstylishness, the young men had the ineffectual excess of the second-rate
Latin dandy, the elder the rude inelegance of a _bourgeoisie_ in them; but
a few better-figured _avocats_ or _notaires_ (their profession was as
unmistakable as if they carried their well-polished door-plates upon their
breasts), walked and gravely talked with each other. The non-American
character of the scene was not less vividly marked in the fact, that each
person dressed according to his own taste, and frankly indulged private
shapes and colours. One of the promenaders was in white, even to his
canvas shoes; another, with yet bolder individuality, appeared in perfect
purple. It had a strange, almost portentous effect when these two
startling figures met as friends and joined with each other in the
promenade with united arms; but the evening was beginning to darken round
them, and presently the purple comrade was merely a sombre shadow beside
the glimmering white.

The valleys and the heights now vanished; but the river defined itself by
the varicolored light of the ships and steamers that lay, dark, motionless
hulks upon its broad breast; the lights of Point Levis swarmed upon the
other shore; the Lower Town, two hundred feet below them, stretched an
alluring mystery of clustering roofs and lamp-lit windows, and dark and
shining streets around the mighty rock, mural-crowned. Suddenly a
spectacle peculiarly Northern and characteristic of Quebec revealed
itself; a long arch brightened over the northern horizon; the tremulous
flames of the aurora, pallid violet or faintly tinged with crimson, shot
upward from it, and played with a vivid apparition and evanescence to the
zenith. While the stranger looked, a gun boomed from the Citadel, and the
wild, sweet notes of the bugle sprang out upon the silence."


On bidding adieu to the lofty plateau which constitutes the Upper Town, on
our way to an antiquarian ramble in the narrow, dusty, or muddy
thoroughfares of the Lower (as it was formerly styled) the Low Town, we
shall cast a glance, a glance only, at the facade of the City Post Office,
on the site of which, until razed in 1871, stood that legendary, haunted
old house, "LE CHIEN D'OR." Having fully described it elsewhere, [81] let
us hurry on, merely looking up as we pass, to the gilt tablet and
inscription and its golden dog, gnawing his bone, pretty much as he
appeared one hundred and twenty-two years ago, to Capt. John Knox, of the
43rd Regt., on his entering Quebec, after its capitulation on the 18th
September, 1759. History has indeed shed very little light on the Golden
Dog and its inscription since that date, but romance has seized hold of
him, and Kirby, Marmette, Soulard and others have enshrined both with the
halo of their imagination. In 1871 the corner stone of the "Chien d'Or"
was unearthed; a leaden plate disclosed the following inscription: -

_M'a posé le 2e Aoust,_

We clip the following from KNOX'S JOURNAL, of the siege of Quebec in 1759,
at which he was both an actor and an eye-witness: -

"On the right of the descent, leading to the low town, stands a
stately old house, said to be the first built of stone in this city
(Quebec), and over the front door of it is engraved a dog gnawing a
large, fleshy bone, which he has got under and between his fore-feet,
with the following whimsical inscription: -

"Je suis le chien qui ronge l'os,
Sans en perdre an seul morceau;
Le temp viendra, qui n'est pas venu,
Je mordrai celui, qui m'aura mordû."

"The true meaning of this device I never could learn, though I made
all possible inquiries, without being gratified with the least
information respecting its allusion. I have been informed that the
first proprietor of the house was a man of great natural abilities,
and possessed a plentiful fortune, which he, after many
disappointments and losses in trade, had scraped together by means of
the most indefatigable industry. Now, whether the foregoing device had
any reference to these particulars of his own private affairs, or that
we may rather suppose the bone with flesh on it to resemble Canada,
and the dog an emblem of fidelity, to represent the French settled
there as if determined faithfully to defend that colony for their King
and country against the savage natives, who may perhaps be alluded to
by the two last lines of the inscription, I will not take upon me to
determine, but submit it to the more penetrating capacity of the
curious reader." - (KNOX'S JOURNAL, Vol. II., p. 149.)

There are two ways of arriving at this El Dorado of commerce: an easy,
expeditious, and, it is believed a safe passage, originated by our
enterprising fellow-townsman, W. A. G. Griffith, Esq. - the _Terrace
Elevator_. The ascent or descent by the elevator occupies fifty seconds
of time, at the moderate cost of three cents per head. The elevator,
opened to the public on 10th February, 1880, was erected at a cost of
about $30,000. Whether it is placed in the most suitable spot remains to
be seen.


"The elevator is worked by the weight of water; this necessitates
there always being a sufficient supply in the tank at the top of the
incline, which is pumped by a 12-horse-power steam pump from a large
tank at the foot. The _modus operandi_ is as follows: Suppose a
person enters the car at the foot of the incline to be carried to the
top, the bell-boy at once rings a bell to notify the brakesman to go
ahead; weight is required to bring the car and passenger from the foot
to the top, and both cars being built on tanks with necessary valves
for the entrance of the water from the upper tank and for the exit of
the same water when it reaches the bottom of the track, which the
large tank below receives, the brakesman proceeds to open one of the
water valves and allows sufficient water to enter the car tank until
it outweighs the car and passengers at the foot; the cars are now
supposed to be in motion, with the bell-boy at the foot and brakesman
at the top of the incline, who duties are to watch that everything
runs smoothly and that the track is clear of all obstructions. Nothing
can happen inside the cars during the transit that is not noticed by
the employés; now let us suppose that while in motion one of the
cables breaks, there is a second cable to take all the strain, which
is never over five tons, and each cable will lift at least 30 tons,
but should it happen by some extraordinary oversight that there
existed flaws in the cables which had not been noticed, so that first
one cable broke and then the second also broke, it would probably be
thought that an accident must occur. No such catastrophe would happen,
because under the cars and out of sight there are two enormously
strong chisels bolted to the iron tank, and running within half an
inch of the trestle work; immediately the strain is taken off the
cables, or immediately the two cables break, the two chisels would
enter the strong wooden beams that support the iron rails and hold the
cars firmly in position. Finally, let us suppose that these chisels
also gave way, it must be said surely an accident is now inevitable;
but no, for at the top as well as at the foot of the track there are
two air buffers, against which the cars strike on their ascent and
descent. So nicely adjusted are they, and so ingeniously are they
constructed, that although the cars may descend with great force
against these air buffers, the resistance being gradually developed as
the air compresses, there will be but little, if any, extra shock.
Should the brakesman happen to be absent from his post, we are
informed by the Manager that no irregularities would occur in
consequence, as a governor regulates the speed at which the cars are
to go, and on their arrival the air buffers come into play and receive
them. So well has the brakesman the cars under his control that at one
stroke of the bell he can stop them instantaneously wherever they may
be on the track. The brakes are arranged in such a way that it would
seem to be quite impossible for both of them to be out of order at the
same time; but even if they were, nothing could happen, as the air
buffers would check the force of any extra shock. It may be thought
that an enormous quantity of water must be used to work this
machinery, seeing that there is a 5,000 gallon water-tank at the top
of the incline and a 10,000 gallon tank at the foot, but such is not
the case, the water which is pumped up from the lower to the upper
tank returns again to the lower one, and so the same water is used
over and over again; indeed, the amount of water wasted is not nearly
as much as is consumed by a private family. In confirmation of this
statement, only a halt-inch tap is used to supply the tanks, and the
Manager informs us that frequently for days together the tap is not
turned on either at night or day."

How our worthy grandfathers would have shrugged their shoulders had such
an innovation been mooted eighty years ago. The other mode of penetrating
into the Lower Town is through that steep and tortuous hill - called
Mountain Hill by the English, Côte de la Montagne by the French.

This is the hill which has re-echoed the tread of so many regiments, on
which so many Governors, French and English, have, on divers occasions,
heard themselves enthusiastically cheered by eager crowds; the hill which
Viceroys of France and of England, from the ostentatious Marquis de Tracy
to the proud Earl of Durham, ascended on their way to Government House,
surrounded by their brilliant staffs and saluted by cannon and with
warlike flourish of trumpets! In earlier times the military and religious
display was blended with an aroma of literature and elaborate Indian
oratory, combining prose and poetry.

Francis Parkman will tell us of what took place on the arrival, on the
28th July, 1658, of the Viscount D'Argenson, the Governor of the colony: -
"When Argenson arrived to assume the government, a curious greeting had
awaited him. The Jesuits asked him to dine; vespers followed the repast;
and then they conducted him to a hall where the boys of their school -
disguised, one as the Genius of New France, one as the Genius of the
Forest, and others as Indians of various friendly tribes - made him
speeches by turn, in prose and in verse. First, Pierre du Quet, who played
the Genius of New France, presented his Indian retinue to the Governor, in
a complimentary harangue. Then four other boys, personating French
colonists, made him four flattering addresses, in French verse. Charles
Denis, dressed as a Huron, followed, bewailing the ruin of his people, and
appealing to Argenson for aid. Jean François Bourdon, in the character of
an Algonquin, next advanced on the platform, boasted his courage, and
declared that he was ashamed to cry like the Huron. The Genius of the
Forest now appeared, with a retinue of wild Indians from the interior,
who, being unable to speak French, addressed the Governor in their native
tongues, which the Genius proceeded to interpret. Two other boys in the
character of prisoners just escaped from the Iroquois, then came forward
imploring aid in piteous accents; and in conclusion the whole troop of
Indians from far and near laid their bows and arrows at the feet of
Argenson, and hailed him as their chief.

Besides these mock Indians, a crowd of genuine savages had gathered at
Quebec to greet the new "Ononthio." On the next day - at his own cost, as
he writes to a friend - he gave them a feast, consisting of seven large
kettlesful of Indian corn, peas, prunes, sturgeon, eels and fat, which
they devoured, he says, after having first sung me a song, after their

Probably one of the most gorgeous displays on record was that attending
the arrival of the great Marquis of Tracy, in 1665. He came with a
brilliant staff, a crowd of young nobles; and accompanied by two hundred
soldiers, to be followed by a thousand more of the dashing regiment of
Carignan-Salières. He sailed up the St. Lawrence, and on the 30th of June,
1665, anchored in the basin of Quebec. The broad, white standard, blazoned
with the arms of France, proclaimed the representative of royalty; and
Point Levi and Cape Diamond and the distant Cape Tourmente roared back the
sound of saluting cannon. All Quebec was on the ramparts or at the landing
place, and all eyes were strained at the two vessels as they slowly
emptied their crowded decks into the boats alongside. The boats at length
drew near, and the Lieutenant-General and his suite landed on the quay
with a pomp such as Quebec had never seen before.

Tracy was a veteran of sixty-two, portly and tall, "one of the largest men
I ever saw," writes Mother Mary (Marie de l'Incarnation), but he was
sallow with disease, for fever had seized him, and it had fared ill with
him on the long voyage. The Chevalier de Chaumont walked at his side, and
young nobles surrounded him, gorgeous in lace and ribbons, and majestic in
leonine wigs. Twenty-four guards in the King's livery led the way,
followed by four pages and six valets; [82] and thus, while the Frenchmen
shouted and the Indians stared, the august procession threaded the streets
of the Lower Town, and climbed the steep pathway that scaled the cliffs
above. Breathing hard, they reached the top, passed on the left the
dilapidated walls of the Fort and the shed of mingled wood and masonry
which then bore the name of the Castle de St. Louis; passed on the right
the old house of Couillard and the site of Laval's new Seminary, and soon
reached the square betwixt the Jesuit College and the Cathedral.

The bells were ringing in a frenzy of welcome. Laval in pontificals,
surrounded by priests and Jesuits, stood waiting to receive the Deputy of
the King, and as he greeted Tracy and offered him the holy water, he
looked with anxious curiosity to see what manner of man he was. The signs
were auspicious. The deportment of the Lieutenant-General left nothing to
desire. A _prie-dieu_ had been placed for him. He declined it. They
offered him a cushion, but he would not have it, and fevered as he was, he
knelt on the bare pavement with a devotion that edified every beholder.
_Te Deum_ was sung and a day of rejoicing followed. [83]

In our day, we can recall but one pageant at all equal: the roar of
cannon, &c., attending the advent of the great Earl of Durham, [84] but
there were noticeable fewer "priests," fewer "Jesuits," and less
"kneeling" in the procession. There was something oriental in the vice-
regal pageantry. Line-of-battle ships - stately frigates, twelve in number
- the _Malabar_, _Hastings_, _Cornwallis_, _Inconstant_, _Hercules_,
_Pique_, _Charybdis_, _Pearl_, _Vestal_, _Medea_, _Dee_ and _Andromache_
visited that summer our shores, a suitable escort to the able, proud,
humane, [85] but unlucky Viceroy and High Commissioner, with his clever
advisers - the Turtons, Bullers, Wakefields, Hansomes, Derbyshires,
Dunkins, _cum multis aliis_. The Dictator was determined to "make a
country or mar a career." He has left us a country.

That warlike, though festive summer of 1838, with our port studded with
three-deckers and spanking frigates, was long remembered in the annals of
the _bon ton_. Some men-of-war were in especial favour. A poetical
lament by the Quebec ladies was wafted to the departing officers of H. M.
frigate _Inconstant_, the words by the Laureate of the period, George
W. Wicksteed, of Ottawa. This effusion includes the names of every vessel
in the fleet _in italics_, and of several of the officers.

_Written by G. W. Wicksteed._

We saw the _Hastings_ hasting off,
And never made a fuss.
The _Malabar's_ departure waked
No malady in us.

We were not piqued to lose the _Pique_;
Each lady's heart at ease is,
Altho' the _Dees_ are on the seas,
And gone the _Hercules_ - es.

Our parting with the _Andromache_
Like Hector's not at all is;
Nor are we Washingtons to seek
To capture a _Cornwallis_.

And no _Charybdis_ ever caught
Our hearts in passion's whirls;
There's not a girl among us all
Has ever fished for _Pearls_.

The _Vestals_ with their sacred flame
Were not the sparks we wanted;
We've looked _Medeas_ in the face,
And yet were not enchanted.

But when our dear _Inconstants_ go,
Our grief shall know no bounds,
The dance shall have no joy for us,
The song no merry sounds.

All dismal then shall be the waltz,
The dull quadrille as bad,

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 17 of 59)