J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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October, 1878: there were present Lord Dufferin, Mrs. Russell
Stephenson, Mrs. J. T. Harrower, Very Rev. Dean Stanley, the Commander
of H.M.S. the _Sirius_, Capt. Sullivan, the Captain of H.M.S. the
_Argus_, Capt. Hamilton, A.D.C., and the writer."

Several streets in the St. Louis, St. John and St. Roch suburbs bear the
names of eminent citizens who have, at different periods, made a free gift
of the sites, or who, by their public spirit, have left behind them a
cherished memory among the people, such as Berthelot, Massue, Boisseau,
D'Artigny, Grey, Stewart, Lee, Buteau, Hudon, Smith, Salaberry, Scott,
Tourangeau, Pozer [135], Panet, Bell, Robitaille, Ryland [136], St. Ours
[137], Dambourgès [138]. Laval, Panet, Plessis, Séguin, Turgeon streets
perpetuate the names of eminent Roman Catholic Bishops. Jerome street took
this name from one of the ablest preceptors of youth the Quebec Seminary
ever had - Messire Jerome Demers.

"Dorchester" Bridge was constructed in 1822, and took the place of the
former bridge (Vieux Pont), on the street to the west, built by Asa Porter
in 1789, and called after Lord Dorchester the saviour of Quebec. Saint
Joseph street, St. Roch, was named after the eminent Roman Catholic
prelate, Mgr. Joseph Octave Plessis, Bishop of Quebec, who, in 1811, built
the church of St. Roch's suburbs, on land donated by a Presbyterian
gentleman, John Mure, and dedicated it to St. Joseph, the patron saint of
Canada. At one period it had a width of only twenty-five feet, and was
widened to the extent of forty, through the liberality of certain persons.
From the circumstance, the corporation was induced to continue it beyond
the city limits up to the road which leads to Lorette, thereby rendering
it the most useful and one of the handsomest streets of St. Roch.

At what period did the most spacious highway of the ward ("Crown" street,
sixty feet in width), receive its baptismal name? Most assuredly it was
previous to 1837, the democratic era of Papineau. "King" street, no doubt,
recalls the reign of George III. So also does "Queen" street recall his
royal Consort. The locality seems eminently favourable to monarchical
belongings, to the House of Hanover in particular, judging from the names
of several of its highways: _Crown, King, Queen, Victoria, Albert, Prince
of Wales, Alfred, Arthur, Prince Edward,_ &c.

Towards the year 1815, the late Honorable John Richardson, of Montreal,
conferred his name on the street which intersects the grounds which Sir
James Craig had, on the 15th March, 1811, conceded to him as Curator to
the vacant estate of the late Hon. William Grant, [139] whose name is
likewise bequeathed to a street adjacent, Grant street, while his lady, La
Baronne de Longueuil, is remembered in the adjoining thoroughfare which
intersects it. A Mr. Henderson, [140] about the commencement of the
present century, possessed grounds in the vicinity of the present Gas
Works, hence we have "Henderson" street. The Gas Company's wharf is built
on the site of the old jetty of which we have seen mention made, about
1720. This long pier was composed of large boulders heaped one upon the
other, and served the purpose of sheltering the landing place at the
Palais harbour from the north-east winds. In 1750, Colonel Bouchette says,
it served as a public promenade, and was covered by a public platform.

Ramsay street, parallel with Henderson street, leads from St. Paul street
to Orleans Place, _Place d'Orléans_, recalling the Bourbon era, prior
to 1759, and also the last French Commander of Quebec, Jean Bte. Nicholas
Roche deRamezay. The historic Château deRamezay, on Notre Dame street,
Montreal, now threatened with destruction, attests the sojourn in New
France of a scion of the proud old Scotch house of Ramsay. - (_Montreal
Gazette, 3rd Feb._, 1881.)


One of the most active promoters of this hopeful scheme, in recent times,
was the Hon. Mr. Justice C. J. Tessier, when a member of the Corporation
about 1850. A plan of the Harbour Works which he suggested was submitted
to the Council. Nothing, however, was then done. The Legislature
eventually assigned the work to the Harbour Commission Trust. The dredging
commenced on May 2nd, 1877.

"The progress made with our Harbour Improvements, year by year, forms
part of the history of our times, so far, at least, as the annals of
this most ancient city of Quebec are concerned. The first stone of the
Graving Dock at Levis was laid on Monday, the 7th June, 1880, by His
Excellency the Governor-General, and the tablet stone, with the name
of "Louise" graven on it, on Thursday, the 29th of July. Thenceforth
the Harbour Works in the River St. Charles became "The Princess Louise
Embankment and Docks," and the work in progress on the Levis or south
side of the St. Lawrence "The Lorne Graving Dock," thus naming the
entrance approaches to our cliff-bound city after our present popular
Vice-Regal rulers."

To the address presented to His Excellency the Governor-General on this
occasion, the following reply was made: -

COMMISSIONERS, - It is with a full sympathy for you in the hopes which
have guided you to the construction of this great work that the
Princess comes to-day to lay this stone, commemorating an important
stage in the completion of your labours. She desires that her name,
graven on this wall, shall serve to remind your citizens, as well as
all who profit by the excellence of the accommodation here given to
vessels of great burden, of her interest in your fortunes, and of her
association with you in the speeding of an undertaking designed to
benefit at once a great port of the new world and many of the
communities of Europe.

Access to Quebec is easy now to the largest ocean-going vessels. Tour
city has the railways far advanced, which will pierce to the heart of
the granary of the world - the great wheat centres of the Canadian
North-West. The very might and grandeur of the stream on which Quebec
is built is in her favour as compared with other centres of commerce,
for her visitors have but little tax to pay when a favouring wind
fails them, while steam must be employed against the strong currents
of the upper river.

The gigantic quays and the feeding lines of rail stretching inwards
unbroken to the prairies must, in all human probability, in the
future, ensure to the ancient capital a place among the most
flourishing cities of the continent. Even without the aid which
science is now bringing to her support look at the strides which have
been made in her prosperity within the last century. Old pictures will
show you the hillside above us bare of all but the houses necessary
for the garrison of a fortress, whose hard fate it had been to be the
place of contention of rival armies, while beneath the ramparts or
within their walls were to be seen only a few of the buildings now
devoted in far greater numbers to the purposes of religion and of
charity. The banks of the St. Charles possessed then only a few store-
houses such as would not now be thought sufficient for one of our
fifth-rate towns. Now the whole of the slope is covered by the homes
of a thriving, increasing and industrious population, while, over the
extending limits under the rule of the municipality, learning looks
down from the stately walls of Laval, and the members elected by your
free and noble province will pass the laws, whose validity is
guaranteed by our federal constitution, in a palace reminding one of
the stately fabric which holds the art treasures of France. None can
observe the contrast without seeing that your progress, although it
has partaken of no magic or mushroom-like growth, has been most marked
and promising.

If commerce seeks for her abode the head of navigation, there are many
instances to show that she loves also to keep her ships to their
native tides. An instance well known to us may be cited in the case of
Glasgow and of Greenock, cities which have risen to their present
prosperity so quickly that they rival in that respect many in America
and in Canada. Greenock has not been killed by the enormous rise in
the importance of the commercial capital of Scotland. Assuredly we may
believe that Quebec, with a far greater country at its back, may be
enabled, with the aid of proper communications, to pour forth every
summer from her lap much of our wealth, of which Europe is so eager to

These are the aspirations we share with you, and we wish to give
effect to them by drawing the attention of those beyond the seas to
the practical invitation you extend to them by the facilities afforded
by your docks and wharves, and we now join with you in the trust that
ample repayment will be yours for the energy and engineering skill you
have lavished on the public works, which are comparable to any
designed for a similar purpose.

The drapery by which it had been concealed having been removed, the
tablet stone was discovered suspended over the place it was intended
to occupy in the wall. The attendant masons having performed their
part, a silver trowel was handed to the Princess. This was a handsome
piece of workmanship, beautifully chased and set in a rosewood handle,
and bore the following inscription: - "To H.R.H. Princess Louise, this
trowel was presented by the contractors of the Quebec Harbour Works,
on the occasion of her laying the tablet stone of the Princess Louise
Embankment and Docks, River St. Charles, Quebec July 29, 1880." Her
Royal Highness, with this splendid implement, dug right lustily into
the cement, and having prepared the bed, drew back to allow the
ponderous stone to be lowered thereinto. This done, a beautiful mallet
of polished oak having been presented, the mass received two or three
blows, and was then declared to be well and truly laid. The Vice-Regal
party almost immediately afterwards regained the _Druid_, which
swiftly conveyed the members thereof to _terra firma_, the police
yacht _Dolphin_ being in attendance. Of the other steamers, the
_Clyde_ and _North_, after a short sail round the harbour, landed
their passengers at the Grand Trunk Railway wharf; the _Brothers_ went
down to St. Joseph, and gave to those on board an opportunity of
noticing the progress made upon the new Graving Dock there. The troops
and privileged guests having been conveyed to and from the scene by
the Montreal Harbour Commissioners' boat _John Young_.


Before describing these vast and important structures, calculated to
afford such boundless facilities to ocean shipping frequenting our port,
it may not be without interest to note the efforts made at various times
for their construction. In his excellent work, "_British Dominions in
North America_," Vol. 1., p. 263-264, Col. Bouchette thus deals with
the subject in 1832 - the far-seeing but misunderstood Mr. James George,
however, as early as 1822, had conceived in his teeming brain the whole

"The construction of a pier across the estuary of the St. Charles is a
measure of the greatest practicability, and of pronounced importance in
every aspect, and a subject that was brought under the notice of the
Legislature in 1829, when it received the most serious consideration of
the committee, and was very favourably reported upon; but no bill has yet
(1832) been introduced tending to encourage so momentous an undertaking.
The most judicious position contemplated for the erection of such a pier
is decidedly between the New Exchange and the Beauport Distillery and
Mills, [141] a direct distance of 4,300 yards, which, with the exception
merely of the channels of the St. Charles (that are neither very broad nor
deep nor numerous), is dry at low water, and affords every advantage
calculated to facilitate the construction of a work of that nature. It
appears that, anterior to the conquest, the French Government had
entertained some views in relation to so great an amelioration; but the
subject seems to have never been properly taken up until 1822, when the
project was submitted to the Governor-in-Chief of the Province by James
George, Esq., a Quebec merchant, conspicuous for his zeal and activity, as
well in promoting this particular object as in forwarding the views of the
St. Lawrence Company, an association formed avowedly for the improvement
of the navigation of the St. Lawrence.

Of the benefits to be derived from thus docking the St. Charles no one can
doubt, whether the undertaking be considered in a local, municipal or
commercial point of view. As a means of extending the boundaries of the
Lower Town, and bringing under more immediate improvement the extensive
branches of the St. Charles, it is of the greatest consequence.

Commercially considered, this pier (which would at first form a _tide-
dock_, that might eventually be converted into a _wet-dock_) would
be of incalculable advantage from the great facilities it would offer to
the general trade of the place, and especially the timber trade, which has
frequently involved its members in much perplexity, owing to the
deficiency that exists of some secure dock or other similar reservoir
where that staple article of the colony might be safely kept, and where
ships might take in their cargoes without being exposed to the numerous
difficulties and momentous losses often sustained in loading at moorings
in the coves or in harbour. By building the outward face of the pier in
deep water, or projecting wharves from it, an important advantage would
also be gained, affording increased conveniences in the unloading and
loading of vessels. In fact, it would be impossible, in summarily noticing
the beneficial tendency of this great work, to particularize its manifold
advantages; they are too weighty to be overlooked, either by the
Legislature or the community at large, and will doubtless dictate the
expediency of bringing them into effectual operation. The different modes
suggested of raising the capital required for the undertaking are: 1st.
From the Provincial revenue by the annual rate of a loan; 2nd. By an Act
vesting it in the City of Quebec, by way of loan to the city, to be
refunded by the receipts of rents and dock dues arising from the work;
3rd. By an Act of Incorporation, the Province taking a share in the stock,
and appointing commissioners; 4th. By an Act of Incorporation only."

The Wet-Dock quay wall was to have been completed by the 1st of October,
1880, but delays have taken place, and the much-desired Tide Harbor of 20
acres, entering from the St. Lawrence, with a depth of 24 feet at low
water, together with a Dock of 40 acres, having a permanent depth of 27
feet, will require another year before it is finally completed.


An important portion of our Harbour improvements are located on the
opposite shore of the St. Lawrence at Levis, and the sums voted by the
Parliament of Canada (38 Vic., chap. 56), or granted by the Imperial
Government to construct a graving dock in the Harbour of Quebec, were used
in this structure, located by Order-in-Council, dated May, 1877, at St.
Joseph de Lévis.

"The dimensions of the dock are:
Length............................. 500 feet
Extreme width...................... 100 "
Depth.............................. 25.5 "
Width of entrance.................. 62 "

"The designs and specifications were prepared by Messrs. Kinnipple &
Morris, Engineers, Westminster and Greenock.

"The Graving Dock of St. Joseph de Lévis, Parish of Lauzon, Quebec,
was commenced by the Quebec Harbour Commissioners, under the Resident
Engineer, Woodford Pilkington, M.I., C.E. in November, 1877, and was
carried on previous to tenders being invited for the present contract,
to the month of March, 1878, during which time the sum of $6,298.20
was expended in excavation on the site of the Dock, which work was
afterwards taken over by Messrs. Larkin, Connolly & Co., as an
executed part of their contract, signed August 17th, 1878, and the
above sum deducted from the contract amount of their tender for the
excavations given in the bills of quantities under this head; the
Harbour Commissioners being afterwards re-credited with this amount of
expenditure under the first certificate.

The work of excavating for and building this Graving Dock was taken in
hand under contract with the Quebec Harbour Commissioners, by Messrs.
Larkin, Connolly & Co., on the 17th August, 1878, for the lump sum of
$330,953.89. The works to be delivered over to the Quebec Harbour
Commissioners, finished complete, on the 1st day of June, 1882. [142]


It seems superfluous to furnish a detailed description of the
fortifications and citadel of Quebec. After the lengthy account given in
"Quebec, Past and Present," pages 348-60, the following sketch, which we
borrow, written previous to the erection of the new St. Louis and Kent
Gates, [143] corrected to date, throws additional light on this part of
the subject.

"Of all the historic monuments connecting modern Quebec with its
eventful and heroic past, none have deservedly held a higher place in
the estimation of the antiquarian, the scholar and the curious
stranger than the former gates of the renowned fortress. These relics
of a by-gone age, with their massive proportions and grim, medieval
architecture, no longer exist, however, to carry the mind back to the
days which invest the oldest city in North America with its peculiar
interest and attraction. Nothing now remains to show where they once
raised their formidable barriers to the foe or opened their hospitable
portals to friends, but graceful substitutes of modern construction or
yawning apertures in the line of circumvallation, where until 1871
stood Prescott and Hope Gates which represented the later defences of
the place erected under British rule. Of the three gates - St. Louis,
St. John and Palace - which originally pierced the fortifications of
Quebec under French dominion, the last vestige disappeared many years
ago. The structures with which they were replaced, together with the
two additional and similarly guarded openings - Hope and Prescott
gates - provided for the public convenience or military requirements by
the British Government since the Conquest, have experienced the same
fate within the last decade to gratify what are known as modern ideas
of progress and improvement - vandalism would, perhaps, be the better
term. No desecrating hand, however, can rob those hallowed links, in
the chain of recollection, of the glorious memories which cluster
around them so thickly. Time and obliteration itself have wrought no
diminution of regard for their cherished associations.

To each one of them an undying history attaches, and even their vacant
sites appeal with mute, but surpassing eloquence to the sympathy, the
interest and the veneration of visitors, to whom Quebec will be ever
dear, not for what it is, but for what it has been. To the quick
comprehension of Lord Dufferin, it remained to note the inestimable
value of such heirlooms to the world at large. To his happy tact we
owe the revival of even a local concern for their preservation; and to
his fertile mind and aesthetic taste, we are indebted for the
conception of the noble scheme of restoration, embellishment and
addition in harmony with local requirements and modern notions of
progress, which is now being realized to keep their memories intact
for succeeding generations and retain for the cradle of New France its
unique reputation as the famous walled city of the New World. It has
more than once been remarked by tourists that, in their peculiar
fondness for a religious nomenclature, the early French settlers of
Quebec must have exhausted the saintly calendar in adapting names to
their public highways, places and institutions. To this pardonable
trait in their character, we must unquestionably ascribe the names
given to two of the three original gates in their primitive lines of
defence - St. Louis and St. John's gates - names which they were allowed
to retain when the Gallic lilies drooped before the victorious flag of
Britain. The erection of the original St. Louis gate undoubtedly dates
back as far as 1694. Authentic records prove this fact beyond
question; but it is not quite so clear what part this gate played in
subsequent history down to the time of the conquest, thought it may be
fairly presumed that it rendered important services in connection
especially with the many harassing attacks of the Iroquois tribes in
the constant wars which were waged in the early days of the infant
colony with those formidable and savage foes of the French. One thing
is certain, however, that it was one of the gates by which a portion
of Montcalm's army, after its defeat on the Plains of Abraham, passed
into the city on its way back, _via_ Palace gate and the bridge
of boats over the St. Charles, to the Beauport camp. In 1791, after
Quebec had fallen into British hands, St. Louis gate was reported to
be in a ruinous condition, and it became necessary to raze it to the
ground and rebuild it. Between this date and 1823, it appears to have
undergone several changes; but, in the latter year, as part of the
plan of defence, including the Citadel, adopted by the Duke of
Wellington, and carried out at an enormous cost by England, it was
replaced by another structure, retaining the same name. About this
time seem to have been also constructed the singularly tortuous
outward approaches to this opening in the western wall of the city,
which were eventually so inconvenient to traffic in peaceful days, of
whatever value they might have been from a military stand-point in
trying hours half-a-century ago. These were also removed with the gate
itself in 1871. On the vacant site of the latter, in accordance with
Lord Dufferin's improvment project, a magnificent memorial gate, which
the citizens had unanimously agreed to call "The Dufferin gate," is
now (1880) erected.

The intention of naming it "The Dufferin gate," however, was
abandoned. H.R.H. the Princess Louise, in deference to its traditions
and with a graceful appreciation of the feelings of the French element
of the population, having recently expressed the desire that it should
be allowed to retain its original appellation.

Before their departure from Canada, Lord and Lady Dufferin had the
pleasure of assisting at the ceremony of laying the corner stone of
this new gate, as well as of the new terrace, which bears their name,
and of fairly starting those important works on the high road to

As an interesting link between the present and the past, St. John's
gate holds an equally prominent rank and claims an equal antiquity
with St. Louis gate. Its erection as one of the original gates of the
French fortress dates from the same year and its history is very much
the same. Through it another portion of Montcalm's defeated forces
found their way behind the shelter of the defences after the fatal day
of the Plains of Abraham. Like St. Louis gate, too, it was pulled down
on account of its ruinous condition in 1791 and subsequently rebuilt
by the British Government in the form in which it endured until 1865,
when it was demolished and replaced, at an expense of some $40,000 to
the city, by its present more ornate and convenient substitute, to
meet the increased requirements of traffic over the great artery of
the upper levels - St. John street. St. John's gate was one of the
objective points included in the American plan of assault upon Quebec
on the memorable 31st December, 1775; Col. Livingston, with a regiment
of insurgent Canadians, and Major Brown, with part of a regiment from

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 23 of 59)