J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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Boston, having been detailed to make a false attack upon the walls to
the south of it and to set fire to the gate itself with combustibles
prepared for that purpose - a scheme in which the assailants were
foiled by the depth of snow and other obstacles. This gate, being of
quite recent construction and of massive, as well as passably
handsome, appearance, is not included in the general scheme of
improvement. The erection of a life-size statue of Samuel Champlain,
the founder of Quebec, upon its summit, is, however, talked of.

Palace or the Palais gate is the third and last of the old French
portals of the city, and derives its title from the fact that the
highway which passed through it led to the palace or residence of the
Intendants of New France, which has also given its name to the present
quarter of the city lying beneath the cliff on the northern face of
the fortress, where its crumbling ruins are still visible in the
immediate neighborhood of the passenger terminus of the North Shore
Railway. Erected under French rule, during which it is believed to
have been the most fashionable and the most used, it bade a final
farewell to the last of its gallant, but unfortunate French defenders,
and to that imperial power which, for more than one hundred and fifty
years, had swayed the colonial destinies of the Canadas and contested
inch by inch with England, the supremacy of the New World, when a
portion of Montcalm's defeated troops passed out beneath its darkening
shadows on the fatal 13th September, 1759. After the capitulation of
Quebec, General Murray devoted himself at once to the work of
strengthening the defences of the city, and the attention in this
respect paid to Palace gate appears to have stood him in good stead
during the following year's campaign, when the British invaders,
defeated in the battle of St. Foye, were compelled to take shelter
behind the walls of the town and sustain a short siege at the Hands of
the victorious French under deLévis. In 1791, the old French
structure, now a decayed ruin, was razed by the English, but, in the
meanwhile, during 1775, it had gallantly withstood the assaults and
siege of the American invaders under Montgomery and Benedict Arnold.
The somewhat ornate substitute, by which it was replaced is said to
have resembled one of the gates of Pompeii, and seems to have been
erected as late as the year 1830 or 1831, as, in the course of its
demolition, in 1874, an inscription was laid bare, attesting the fact
that at least the timbers and planking had been put up by local
workmen in 1831. It is not intended to rebuild this gate under the
Dufferin plan, on account of the great volume of traffic, more
especially since the completion of the North Shore Railway, to whose
terminus the roadway which leads over its site is the most direct
route. To mark that memorable spot, however, it is intended to flank
it on either side with picturesque Norman turrets rising above the
line of the fortification wall.

Hope Gate, also on the northern face of the ramparts, was the first of
the two purely British gates of Quebec, and was erected in 1786 by
Colonel Henry Hope, Commandant of the Forces and Administrator of the
Province, from whom it takes its name. It was demolished in 1874 for
no especial reason, this gate being no obstacle whatever to the
growing requirements of traffic, as will be readily understood from
its situation. Like Palace Gate, too, it is not to be rebuilt - its
approaches being easily commanded and its position on the rugged,
lofty cliff being naturally very strong.

Its site, however, will be marked in the carrying out of the Dufferin
Improvements by flanking Norman turrets.

The last of the city gates proper, wholly of British origin, but the
first that grimly confronted in by-gone days the visitor approaching
the city from the water-side and entering the fortress, is, or rather
was, Prescott Gate, which commanded the steep approach known as
Mountain Hill. This gate, which was more commonly known as the Lower
Town gate, because it led to that part - the oldest - of the city known
by that name, was erected in 1797, (to replace a rough structure of
pickets which existed at this point from the time of the siege by the
Americans in 1775) by General Robert Prescott, who served in America
during the revolutionary war, and, after further service in the West
Indies, succeeded Lord Dorchester as the British Governor-General in
Lower Canada in 1796, dying in 1815, at the age of 89 years, and
giving his name to this memento of his administration, as well as to
Prescott, Ontario. Old Prescott Gate was unquestionably a great public
nuisance in times of peace, its demolition, in 1871, consequently
provoked the least regret of all in connection with the obliteration
of those curious relics of Quebec's historic past. For reasons, which
are obvious, it would be impossible to replace Prescott Gate with any
structure of a like character, without impeding seriously the flow of
traffic by way of such a leading artery as Mountain Hill. It will,
however, be replaced by a light and handsome iron bridge of a single
span over the roadway with flanking Norman turrets.


For the information of our visitors and strangers generally, we may
explain that, a few years since, the western fortification wall
between St. John's gate and the military exercising ground in past
years, known as the Esplanade, was cut through to form a roadway
communicating between the higher levels of the Upper Town and the St.
Louis suburbs, now styled Montcalm Ward.

It consequently became necessary, in keeping with the aesthetic spirit
of the whole Dufferin scheme, to fill up in some way this unsightly
gap without interfering with the traffic. It was finally decided to
erect here one of the proposed memorial gates, which is altogether
therefore an addition to the number of the existing gates or their
intended substitutes. This edifice, has been designed to do homage to
the memory of Edward, Duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria. This
gate will be the most imposing of all in the entire circuit of the
fortifications, while it has had the signal honour of further being
reserved for a handsome subscription towards its cost from Her
Majesty's privy purse and dedication at the hands of H. R. H. the
Princess, who laid its corner stone with appropriate ceremonial during
the month of June, 1879.


Besides the foregoing, however, the fortress possesses in reality two
other gates of much interest to the stranger. When the famous Citadel,
commanding the entire harbour and surrounding country, was constructed
on Cape Diamond, the number of existing gates was increased from five
to seven by the erection of the Chain and Dalhousie, or Citadel gates,
leading to that great fortalice of British power, which may be aptly
styled the _summum opus_ of the magnificent but costly system of
strategic works that has earned for Quebec its title of the Gibraltar
of America. But, as these belong to the Citadel, which is an
independent stronghold of itself, rather than to the defensive works
of the city proper, it suffices to mention that they were erected
under the administration of the Earl of Dalhousie, in 1827, and that
they are well worthy of a visit of inspection - the one being a
handsome and formidable barrier of its class and the other of very
massive construction and considerable depth.

The proposed Château St. Louis or Castle of St. Louis, must be
regarded as the crowning feature of the Dufferin scheme of
embellishment and was designed by the late Governor General to serve
as a vice-regal residence during the sojourn of the representative of
the Crown in Quebec, as well as to revive the historic splendors of
the ancient pile of that name, which formed the abode of the early
Governors of New France. Of course, this noble structure only exists
as yet on paper; but, should it ever be erected, it will be a striking
object from any point whence the Citadel is visible as it will rise to
a considerable height above its highest battlements, standing out in
bold relief to the east of the building known as the Officers'
Quarters, with a frontage of 200 feet, and an elevation partly of 60
and partly of 100 feet, with a basement, two main stories, and mansard
roof and two towers of different heights, but of equally charming
design - the style of architecture of the whole being an agreeable
_mélange_ of the picturesque Norman and Elizabethan.


The Citadel has been described in detail elsewhere; [144] it is,
therefore, unnecessary to allude to it further than recording here a
startling episode in which it played a conspicuous part in those days
of foes and alarm, during the Insurrection of 1838: -

"After the affair of St. Denis," says Roger, [145] "the murder of
Lieutenant Weir, the matter of St. Charles, the storm and capture
of the Church of St. Eustache, and the battle of Toronto, there
were filibustering attempts to invade Canada, neither recognized
by the Government of the United States nor by the bulk of the
people, but indulged in by a party, sentimental with regard to
liberty, and by others to whom plunder and excitement were
congenial. In one of these filibustering expeditions, 'General'
Sutherland, 'Brigadier General' Theller, Colonel Dodge, Messrs.
Brophy, Thayer and other residents, if not citizens, of the United
States, sailed from Detroit in the schooner _Anne_ for Bois
Blanc, which having been seized, an attack was made on Fort Maiden
on the 8th of January, 1838, terminating in the capture of
Theller, Dodge, Brophy and some others; General Sutherland having
been afterwards captured on the ice, at the mouth of the River
Detroit, by Colonel John Prince, of the Canadian Militia. The
prisoners, after having been for a time in gaol at Toronto, were
transferred, some to Fort Henry, at Kingston, and others, among
whom were Sutherland, Theller and Dodge, to the Citadel of Quebec,
which was then occupied by a battalion of the Guards, and there
imprisoned, but treated with consideration and courtesy. It was
not, however, unnatural that they should endeavor to escape. They
were taken out of their prison-house daily for an airing, in
charge of a guard, and, as it would appear, were not altogether
denied the opportunity of conversing with persons who were
friendly to them. Theller, in an account of the Rebellion in
Canada, edited, it is said, by General Roberts, of Detroit,
himself minutely details the nature and manner of his intercourse
with a Mr. P. S. Grace, while under the charge of the military in
Cape Diamond; how he succeeded in bribing soldiers' wives, and in
cultivating the friendship of officers, non-commissioned officers
and men of the Guards, much of which is exaggerated, and some of
which is untrue. Some of the sergeants, for small presents,
Theller asserts, did whatever he required in the way of bringing
books and newspapers from town and articles of food and drink from
the canteen, which is undoubtedly true, but no man in the
regiment, either directly or indirectly, connived at the escape.
It was the result of clever management on the part of Theller,
Dodge and his companions, and of unsuspecting stupidity on the
part of the sentry who guarded the door of the prison, and,
indeed, of all who seemed to have had intercourse with the
prisoners. The escape was thus effected: - On a dark, rainy night,
late in October, 1838, an iron bar having been previously cut
through with a file given them from without, the sawing having
been effected during performances on the shrill fife of one of the
fifers of the garrison, which a prisoner had borrowed for the
purpose of passing away the time and keeping up the spirits of his
companions in misfortune, some of whom were despondent, Theller's
conversation seduced a sentry into conversation, next to smoke a
pipe, then to drink a tumbler of London porter, drugged with
rathermore than 'three times sixty drops' of laudanum. The sentry
struggled hard to prevent the drowsiness that was stealing over
him; he spoke thick, and muttered that he had never before drank
anything so good or so strong. He walked about in the rain to keep
himself awake, and staggered a little. * * * It resulted in the
escape of Dodge, Thayer, Theller and Partridge, who, after several
hair-breadth escapes and hazardous incidents, found themselves
outside of their old quarters." "The escaping party," adds Roger,
"moved cautiously forward, at respectable distances from each
other, along the canteen, and then got out into the middle of the
great square to elude the sentry at the magazine. While there a
sergeant came rushing from the guard-room towards the officers'
quarters, the red, or as they appeared dark, stripes being visible
on a white undress jacket. It seemed to be an alarm. There were
only three sentinels between the escaping party and the flagstaff,
where the descent was intended. Abreast was one whose duty was to
guard the back part of the magazine and a pile of firewood which
was there corded up, and also to prevent soldiers from going to
the canteen. Another stood opposite the door of the officers'
mess-room. There was room enough in the darkness to pass these
sentinels, and Theller and his companions no longer crawled, but
walked upright, one by one, quietly, but passing along as quickly
as possible. Parker, however, after the sergeant passed, became
much excited and terrified, and lost his way. He made some noise,
and a sentry challenged, but without answering, the rest hurried
towards the half-moon battery where the flagstaff is. Passing
round the old telegraph post on one side, near the stabling
attached to the officers' quarters, a sentinel there with side-
arms only, or, as he is technically termed 'a flying Dick,'
challenged, and Theller asserts he promptly answered, 'Officer of
the guard,' when the countersign being demanded, he muttered,
'teen,' having learned during the confinement that the countersign
of the Guards ordinarily ended so - seventeen, eighteen, nineteen,
or such like - and the sentry, fancying from the cap with a gold
lace band on it, which, having undone his cloak, Theller placed
upon his head, that he was one of the officers, suffered him to
pass. Parker had got among the firewood, and was making a noise.
Dodge was running about on the top of the wall, making signals for
Grace and other friends who were to be outside, but could see no
one there. The haulyards of the flagstaff were then partially cut
down with a penknife. An alarm was now given by an officer of the
garrison who accidentally came upon Culver, one of the escaping
party, and in a moment the drums beat and the guard turned out.
The officers rushed out of the mess-room. An artilleryman detected
Parker, and the cry arose that the American prisoners were loose
and escaping. Some immediately ran towards the prison, whilst
others dragged Parker to the guard-room, and yet others began to
search about for the 'General,' Colonel Dodge, Culver and Hall,
whom Parker intimated, in reply to a question put to him by an
officer, had not come out. There was no alternative but to jump
from the wall to the flat part of the precipice below, on which
the wall is built, what Theller first did. For an instant he hung
by his hands, then dropped, and alighted on his feet on the solid
rock, falling back on his head. He was stunned, and lay a minute
or two unconscious. When he came to himself, he heard Dodge
inquiring if he was hurt, and replied in the negative, telling him
to throw down the bundle of cloaks and leap upon them. Theller had
broken the outer bone of his leg and dislocated his right ankle
joint, but had been so stunned that he scarcely felt any pain.
Culver descended next, and was stunned, the blood gushing from his
nose and mouth; he had, it is said, also fractured his leg. Culver
was more fortunate, as he alighted on a pile of cloaks, and was
little, if at all, hurt. Dodge then, throwing down the piece of
rope which he had cut from the haulyards to be used in the next
descent, also slipped down the wall upon the pile of cloaks, and
was unhurt. The second descent was made with the aid of the rope,
the end of which was held by two of the party, while Theller with
his wounded leg slipped down over a piece of cedar post which had
been accidentally placed against the wall of the ditch. Culver
followed, then Hall held the rope alone for Dodge, and afterwards
descended himself as all had done on the first leap, caught as he
came to the ground, however, by the rest of the party. Dodge, in
saving Hall from falling after or as he leaped, sprained his
wrist. The whole party, however, managed to crawl up the outer
wall of the ditch, which was faced with dry stone, by inserting
their hands in the interstices and using their feet as well as
they could. They rested on the summit of the glacis for a moment,
and saw the search that was being made for them inside by lights
that were flashing about into every nook and cranny."

It would take us too far to describe the subsequent incidents of this
clever plan of escape. The patriots of St. Roch, Dr. Rousseau, Grace,
Hunter and others, provided means of escape for the "sympathisers"
which baffled all the ingenuity of the Commandant of the Quebec
garrison, an old Waterloo hero, Sir James Macdonald, who certainly
spared neither time, men nor trouble to recover the Citadel prisoners,
but in vain.

We must find room here for another singular incident in connection
with the Citadel and the Insurrection of 1837-8: -

_"THE MEN OF '37."_


"A representative of the Montreal _Witness_, in a conversation
with Mr. Rouillard, Inspector of Buildings, ascertained that he
had taken a somewhat prominent part in the stirring scenes of the
Rebellion of 1837. The old gentleman's eyes lit up with the fire
of youthful enthusiasm when recounting the deeds of the "Sons of
Liberty," and the secret society of the "Chasseurs."

"I was vigorous and strong in those days, and from my mother
inherited an ardent love for the country in which I was born. Her
letters in those days so magnetized me with patriotism that I
could willingly lay down my life for the cause. I can only,
however, give you a mere sketch to-day of some of the incidents
and adventures through which I passed. The 'Sons of Liberty,' in
Quebec and Montreal, numbered over 20,000 men, but within this
body there was a secret society called 'Les Chasseurs,' all picked
and trustworthy men. They formed a secret society and had their
signs and passwords. It is singular that, though many of those men
were placed in perilous positions when the revelations of our
secrets would have saved them, not one traitor was found to betray
the cause, and even to this day the secrets of the fraternity are
unknown. Not very long ago I had occasion to go to Quebec, and was
introduced to one of the Provincial ministers. I gave the sign of
the 'Chasseurs' of forty-three years ago. He looked up surprised
and returned the countersign. We had not met since the memorable
_émeute_ in the stable yard on St. James street.

We used to meet for drill and pistol practice in the upper story
of the house still standing on the corner of Dorchester and
Sanguinet streets.

There I remember one of our leaders harangued us. He is still
alive, and Montreal's citizens know him well. He urged us to be
brave and show no mercy in sweeping every obstacle from oar path,
and when we gained our liberty we would have 'ample time for -
tears, repentance and regret.' There used to be a loyal
association called 'The Doric Club,' which met on Great St. James
street near our rendezvous. Our men and the members of this club
used to have many _rencontres_, until it culminated in a challenge
from the 'Chasseurs' who sent a _cartel_ to the sixty members of
the Doric Club, offering to meet them with thirty of their picked
men. The President of the Doric Club sent back a cold formal reply
to the effect that they wished to have nothing to do with traitors
and rebels.

"Our secret society had formed the daring design of seizing the
citadel of Quebec on the same plan as Wolfe's Highlanders. We had
our rendezvous within a short march of Quebec and on the eventful
night numbered about 1,500 men, two hundred of whom had come from
Montreal and the rest from St. Jerome, Three Rivers and other
places. Each man was armed with a pair of pistols and a bowie-
knife, and carried on his shoulders a bundle of straw.

They had thirty ladders which were to be used in scaling the
narrow glacis which led to the citadel. The object was to make a
regular roadway of these ladders, almost like a trellis work
bridge, up which the patriots might easily pass. The night was
dark and stormy. We had been waiting in the cold in our white
blanket coats and white tuques, to assimilate to the color of the
snow, when the order arrived to prepare to march. The second
signal came at half-past eleven, and everything was in readiness
for the attack. At a quarter to twelve the chief came in as pale
as death and gave the order to disband, as the storm had suddenly
ceased and the moon shone bright and clear, much to the
discomfiture of the patriots, who looked forward to an easy
victory. That chief, who still lives, said it was providential
that the storm had cleared off before the attack had been made,
for if it had continued and only cleared when the patriots were
placing their scaling ladders in the glacis, not a man would have
survived, as the British troops could have trained several guns on
this particular spot and swept every living thing into

Mr. Rouillard said the Roman Catholic clergy were much opposed to
their society, because it was secret, and had done all in their
power to break it up, and England is indebted for her supremacy in
North America to-day to the exertions and assistance given her in
that troublous period by the Roman Catholic clergy." (_Montreal
Witness, 29th November_ 1880.)




On emerging from St. Louis Gate, several handsome terraces and cut stone
dwellings are noticeable. We may mention Hon. Frs. Langelier's, Mr.
Shehyn's, and the Hamel Terrace - quite a credit to the new town. The new

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 24 of 59)