J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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hair-dresser, with powdered periwigs, ruffles and formidable pigtails.
Here is Judge Mabane, Secretary Pownall, Honorable Messrs. Finlay, [218]
Dunn, Harrison, Holland, Collins, Caldwell, Fraser, Lymburner; Messrs.
Lester, Young, Smith junior. Mingled with them you also recognize the
bearers of old historic names - Messrs. de Longueuil, Baby, de Bonne,
Duchesnay, Dunière, Guéroult, de Lotbinière, Roc de St. Ours, Dambourgès,
de Rocheblave, de Rouville, de Boucherville, Le Compte, Dupré, Bellestre,
Taschereau, de Tonnancour, Panet, de Salaberry, and a host of others. Were
these gentlemen all present? Probably not, they were likely to be. Dear
reader, you want to know also what royal Edward did - said - was thought of
- amongst the Belgravians of old Stadacona, during the three summers he
spent in Quebec.

"How he looked when he danced, when he sat at his ease,
When his Highness had sneezed, or was going to sneeze."

Bear in mind then, that we have to deal with a dashing Colonel of
Fusileers - age twenty-five - status, a prince of the blood; add that he was
ardent, generous, impulsive, gallant; a tall, athletic fellow; in fact,
one of George III.'s big, burly boys - dignified in manner - a bit of a
statesman; witness his happy and successful speech [219] at the hustings
of the Charlesbourg election, and the biting rebuke it contained in
anticipation - for Sir Edmund Head's unlucky post-prandial joke about the
_superior_ race. Would you prefer to know him after he had left our
shores and become Field Marshal the Duke of Kent? Take up his biography by
the Rev. Erskine Neale, and read therein that royal Edward was a truthful,
Christian gentleman - a chivalrous soldier, though a stern disciplinarian -
an excellent husband - a persecuted and injured brother - a neglected son -
the munificent patron of literary, educational and charitable
institutions - a patriotic Prince - in short, a model of a man and a paragon
of every virtue. But was he all that? we hear you say. No doubt of it.
Have you not a clergyman's word for it - his biographer's? The Rev. Erskine
Neale will tell you what His Royal Highness did at Kensington Palace, or
Castlebar Hill. Such his task; ours, merely to show you the gallant young
colonel, emerging bright and early from his Montmorenci Lodge, thundering
with his spirited pair of Norman horses over the Beauport and Canardière
road; one day, "sitting down to whist and partridges for supper," at the
hospitable board of a fine old scholar and gentleman, M. de Salaberry,
then M.P.P. for the county of Quebec, the father of the hero of
Châteauguay, and who resided near the Beauport church. The old de
Salaberry mansion has since been united by purchase to Savnoc, Col. B. C.
A. Gugy's estate. Another day you may see him dash past Belmont or Holland
House or Powell Place, occasionally dropping in with the _bonhommie_
of a good, kind Prince, as he was - especially when the ladies were young
and pretty. You surely did not expect to find an anchorite in a slashing
Colonel of Fusileers - in perfect health, age, twenty-five. Not a grain of
asceticism ever entered, you know, in the composition of "Farmer George's"
big sons; York and Clarence, they were no saints; neither were they
suspected of asceticism; not they, they knew better. And should royal
Edward, within your sight, ever kiss his hand to any fair daughter of Eve,
inside or outside of the city, do not, my Christian friend, upturn to
heaven the whites of your eyes in pious horror; princes are men, nay, they
require at times to be more than men to escape the snares, smiles,
seductions, which beset them at every step in this wicked, wicked, world.
How was Montmorenci Lodge furnished? Is it true that the Prince's
remittances, from Carlton House never exceeded £5,000 per annum during his
stay here? - Had he really as many bells to summon his attendants in his
Beauport Lodge as his Halifax residence contained - as he had at Kensington
or Castlebar Hill? Is it a fact that he was such a punctual and early
riser, that to ensure punctuality on this point, on of his servants was
commanded to sleep during the day in order to be sure to be awake at day-
break to ring the bell? - Did he really threaten to court-martial the 7th
Fusileers, majors, captains, subs and privates, who might refuse to sport
their pig-tails in the streets of Quebec, as well as at Gibraltar?

Really, dear reader, your inquisitiveness has got beyond all bounds; and
were Prince Edward to revisit those shores, we venture to say, that you
would in a frenzy of curiosity or loyalty even do what was charged by De
Cordova, when Edward's grandson, Albert of Wales, visited, in 1860, Canada
and the American Union: -

"They have stolen his gloves and purloined his cravat—
Even scraped a souvenir from the nap of his hat."

Be thankful if we satisfy even one or two of your queries. He had indeed
to live here on the niggardly allowance of £5,000 per annum. The story
[220] about censuring an officer for cutting off his pig-tail refers not
to his stay in Canada, but to another period of his life. He lived rather
retired; a select few only were admitted to his intimacy; his habits were
here, as elsewhere, regular; his punctuality, proverbial; his stay amongst
us, marked by several acts of kindness, of which we find traces in the
addresses presented on several occasions, thanking him for his own
personal exertions and the assistance rendered by his gallant men at
several fires which had occurred. [221] He left behind some warm admirers,
with whom he corresponded regularly. We have now before us a package of
his letters dated "Kensington Palace." Here is one out of twenty; but no,
the records of private friendship must remain inviolate.

The main portion of the "Mansion House," at Montmorenci, is just as he
left it. The room in which he used to write is yet shown; a table and
chair - part of his furniture - are to this day religiously preserved. The
lodge is now the residence of the heirs of the late G. B Hall, Esquire,
the proprietors of the extensive saw mills at the foot of the falls.


Of the numerous sons of King George III., none, perhaps, were born
with more generous impulses, none certainly more manly - none more true
in their attachments, and still none more maligned neglected - traduced
than he, who, as a jolly Colonel of Fusileers spent some pleasant
years of his life at Quebec from 1791 to '94, Edward Augustus, father
of our virtuous and beloved Sovereign.

We wish to be understood at the outset. It is not our intention here
to write a panegyric on a royal Duke; like his brothers, York and
Clarence - the pleasure-loving, he, too, had his foibles; he was not an
anchorite by any means. His stern, Spartan idea of discipline may have
been overstretched, and blind adherence to routine in his daily habits
may have justly invited the lash of ridicule. What is pretended here,
and that, without fear of contradiction, is that his faults, which
were those of a man, were loudly proclaimed, while his spirit of
justice, of benevolence and generosity was unknown, unrecognized,
except by a few. No stronger record can be opposed to the traducers of
the memory of Edward, Duke of Kent, than his voluminous correspondence
with Col. DeSalaberry and brothers, from 1791 to 1815 - recently,
through the kindness of the DeSalaberry family, laid before the public
by the late Dr. W. J. Anderson, of Quebec.

The Duke had not been lucky in the way of biographers. The Rev.
Erskine Neale, who wrote his life, is less a biographer than a
panegyrist, and his book, if, instead of much fulsome praise, it
contained a fuller account - especially of the early career of his
hero - of the Duke's sayings and doings in Gibraltar, Quebec and
Halifax, it would certainly prove more valuable, much more complete.

Singularly enough, Neale, disposes in about three lines, of the years
the Duke spent in Quebec, though, as proved by his correspondence,
those years were anything but barren. Quebec, we contend, as exhibited
in the Duke's letters, ever retained a green spot in his souvenirs, in
after life.

The Old Château balls, the Kent House in St. Lewis street, had for him
their joyful sunshine, when, as a stalwart, dashing Colonel of
Fusileers, aged 25, he had his _entrées_ in the fashionable drawing-
rooms of 1791-4 Holland House, Powell Place (Spencer Wood, as it is
now called), old Hale's receptions, Lymburner's soirees in his old
mansion on Sault au Matelot street, then the fashionable quarter for
wealthy merchants. The Duke's cottage _orné_ at the Montmorenci Falls
had also its joyous memories, but these were possibly too tender to be
expatiated on in detail.

The Prince, it appears, was also present on an occasion of no ordinary
moment to the colony that is when the King, his father, "granted a
Lower Chamber to the two provinces in 1791."

The only original source now available for inditing that portion of
the Duke's life spent in Quebec, is Neilson's old _Quebec Gazette_,
supplemented with divers old traditions, not always reliable.

Dr. Anderson's compilation will certainly go far to dispel the
atmosphere of misrepresentation floating around the character of
Prince Edward, as he was familiarly styled when here during the past
century. The character of the most humble individual, when casually
mentioned in history, ought to be free from misrepresentation. Why
this rule should not apply to the manly soldier who, in the streets of
old Quebec in 1791, headed his gallant men wherever a riot, a fire, or
a public calamity required their presence, is difficult to understand.
No man was more popular in the city from the services he rendered when
called on. One class, however, found in him an unrelenting
disciplinarian - the refractory soldier attempting mutiny or desertion
from the corps.

We are invited to these reflections from the fact that new light is
now promised to us on this traduced commander, in the shape of what
will no doubt be an attractive biography of Duke Edward from the pen
of a London _littérateur_ of note, whose name we are not justified in
giving at present. The following extract from a London letter,
received this last mail by a gentleman of this city, who has succeeded
in gathering together valuable materials for Canadian history, will
prove what we now assert. It is addressed to Mr. LeMoine, late
President of the Literary and Historical Society, whose sketch of the
Prince's career in 1791, as contained in the _Maple Leaves_ for 1865,
seems to have obtained the full approbation of the distinguished
_littérateur_ now engaged in writing the life of the Duke:

"SOUTH KENSINGTON, London, May 30, 1874.

DEAR SIR, - If my note on Miss Nevill's incident [222] clears up any
point hitherto obscure of Canadian life, use it by all means for your
Canadian sketches. During my searches consequent to elucidate the
Duke's sojourn in Canada, many curious stories came under my eye,
which have never, as I am aware, been yet published in Canadian
histories, when the Prince was stationed at Quebec. The London pens
were m the habit of publishing from time to time incidents of
considerable interest bearing on forgotten periods of the early
British Constitutional History of Canada - parliamentary. My intention
is to note them in the life of H.R.H., as he was present when the
King granted a lower Chamber to the two provinces in 1791. From this
circumstance he based his firm adherence to a constitutional
Government as the safest mode to ensure freedom to all parties
interested therein. My work on the Duke of Kent would have been
published ere this, but I am awaiting the correspondence promised me
by Lord B - - addressed to Lord L - - , and that also to Sir H - -
Douglas, formerly Lieutenant-Governor of - - . Your suggestion will
not be lost sight of. _Maple Leaves_ have been fully culled for
information concerning the Prince. Holland Farm and the Duke at
Montmorenci give a correct picture of life in Quebec in 1791 -
information unknown to Rev. Mr. Neale in 1850.

If not too much trouble, could you let me know whether these works, of
which I enclose a list, mention the Duke in Canada, for the British
Museum does not possess these publications, which obliges me to seek
information from such a person as yourself, who is versed in Canadian
affairs. I am anxious to give a correct account of the Duke in Canada.
This period of his life has escaped all the biographers of the Prince,
Philippart and Neale, &c. If I should meet any striking incident
relative to Canadian affairs, I shall forward it to your address." -
_From Quebec Morning Chronicle_.


Founded by Joseph Francois Perrault, the pioneer of lay education in the
Province of Quebec.

"In these days of ambitious, showy villas and grand mansions, whose lofty
and imposing proportions, elaborate architectural ornaments, conspicuous
verandahs and prominent sites are all designed, not only to gratify the
taste and pride of their owners, but to impress with wonder and admiration
the ordinary observer, it may be interesting to give a description of Mr.
Perrault's residence, a fair specimen of a comfortable and well ordered
dwelling of the olden time. My object, in describing it, is to convey to
the present generation some idea of the taste and domestic architecture of
our ancestors, especially to those who, in culture and social influence,
might truly be regarded as representative men. For a similar purpose, I
have thought of presenting such social pictures of the good old times, of
his habits and practices, as marked his connection with his relatives and
neighbors, and in this way an instructive lesson may be learned.

Mr. Perrault's abode was a building of one storey, with attics in front
and two in rear, in the style of the eighteenth century, on the north side
of the St. Louis Road, on the spot known to historians as les buttes à
nepveu, to-day, as Perrault's Hill, upon which the residence of Mr. Henry
Dinning now stands. As all students are aware, this is classic ground;
here was fought the main struggles of the battles of the Plains of Abraham
and of St. Foy; Murray's troops having entrenched themselves here on the
eve of the engagement with de Levis. A stone wall with an elegant railing
divided the property from the main road, near which was a graceful little
nestled summer house, overgrown with creepers and vines; through an avenue
with flowery borders, between lines of lofty vases, filled with blooming
plants, the visitor reached the house, which occupied the centre of a
garden of four acres. Above the door, at the summit of a flight of steps,
was inscribed in gilt letters, _Asyle Champêtre_. It was a double
house with a conservatory at each end, the first erected in Canada, filled
with exotic and native plants, at some distance on either side were
miniature Norman turrets. Mr. Perrault had selected this favourable site
for his residence, carefully noting all its advantages. The rays of the
rising sun flashed through the front windows, cheering him in his morning
labours, while as the day wore on, a flood of mellow light suffused the
western portion of his chamber. From such vantage ground, Mr. Perrault, of
an evening, could observe the movements of the heavenly bodies, the
position of the planets and the various phenomena of the firmament; the
study of which had great attractions for him, and created in his mind a
gratitude to the great architect for all His vast works and beneficent
care. On entering the visitor found himself in the reception room, of
about twenty-four feet square, with a large bay window towards the north,
and used as a drawing room and study. In whatever direction one looked,
the view was attractive; to the south, the commanding heights of Point
Levi, with the chasm between, where rolled by the great St. Lawrence; to
the east, the picturesque island of Orleans, dividing the river into two
channels, and the imposing old Citadel, or martial crown of the city on
Cape Diamond; to the north, the meandering river in the beautiful valley
of St. Charles, the heights of Charlesbourg and Lorette, the shore of
Beauport, the faint trace of the _embouchure_ of the Montmorenci, and
the grand Laurentian mountain range in the distance; and to the west, the
battle fields of 1759 and 60, memorable for their heroic deeds and
momentous results - views most charming, exquisite and impressive.

The front grounds were utilized as a model garden and orchard, in which
every improvement in horticulture had been adopted and were laid out in
plots and gravelled walks. In rear of the house was a miniature pond,
enlivened by waterfowl and turtles, and whose banks were adorned with
water plants and ferns, and receding thence were plateaux, covered with
flowers of every description.

In addition to the picturesque appearance and commanding position of Mr.
Perrault's house, the internal arrangements of the apartments deserve
notice, particularly as in them often met the leading men of Quebec, where
they discussed the fluctuations of the public mind, benevolent enterprises
and matters of general interest. The parlor in the _Asyle Champêtre_
was well known to the élite and leaders of society of that day; elegantly,
but not luxuriously, furnished; the carpet was made of flax, sown and
grown on the grounds adjoining his schools, and woven by the pupils; the
walls were hung with valuable paintings and ornamented by objects of
_virtû_ artistically arranged. From the centre descended a lustre of
six candles; at the rear angles were large circular mirrors, one concave
and the other convex, with lights on each side, reflecting every object in
movement in the apartment. Two bronze statues, or candelabra, with lights,
guarded either side of the hall door, in keeping with the surroundings;
the hangings and furniture were in the style of Louis XIV., in which the
colours harmoniously blended. On the left hand of this apartment was Mr.
Perrault's library, in which was a choice collection of Greek, Latin,
English, French and Spanish works, on philosophy, history and _les
belles lettres_. No one had a higher respect for the classics than he;
the odes of Horace, the poems of Virgil and the orations of Cicero were as
familiar to him as the best sermons of Bossuet or the tragedies of Racine.
On the right was another room, with a piano and organ, to which the family
devoted much attention, and lovers of music were certain of hearing there
excellent performances and well-cultivated voices.

Those who bad the privilege of enjoying his hospitality on ordinary
occasions, could never forget the hearty welcome of their whole-souled
entertainer; and on two particular days, the first of January and the
_fête de St. Joseph_, his patron saint, they had still better reason
for its remembrance. These social gatherings were for months looked
forward to as the events of the season, and for many a day subsequently
they recalled most agreeable recollections. As was then the custom, the
guests arrived early in the afternoon and took their departure at the
unfashionable hour of nine, and in the interval engaged themselves in
dancing, in games, in listening to brilliant executions on different
musical instruments and the rich melody of well-trained voices, in ballad
and song, clever repartees and intellectual conversation, while the supper
table, laden with all the delicacies procurable, was a continual feast
from the opening to the close of the entertainment. The guests were
escorted down the avenue by their host and his family, and as he bade them
good night, the shouts and merry laughter of the younger ones rang
joyfully in the night air, startling the passers by with their frolicsome

Mr. Perrault's table had a wide reputation, and although he never issued
general invitations, it was rarely without two, or more, guests, for those
who happened to be at the _Asyle_ at meal time were cordially invited
to join in the family repast. From taste and habit, his board ever
presented a tempting display; but, as regards himself, he was most
abstemious, partaking sparingly and of but few dishes, while to his guests
his hospitality was unbounded. His old cook sometimes found her task
hard, or pretended to; and on one occasion, returning from confession, she
remarked that she had said to M. le Curé, when he counselled patience and
submission, "_je voudrais bien vous y voir_," (I would like to see you in
my place). Even in those days cooks were testy, for, when Mr. Perrault
found fault with her, she would answer as impertinently as one could in
these days: "_voulez-vous que je vous dise la vérité? Vous commencez à
être dégoûté de ma cuisine_," (Do you want me to tell you the truth? You
are getting tired of my cooking). To the tried and impatient, the above
incidents will cause them to ask themselves if there be any truth in the
old saying: "God sent us food and the devil sent us cooks."

A custom illustrative of the habits of that period, was the visit of
relations on New Year's morning. Old and young presented themselves at
five o'clock and repaired in a file to Mr. Perrault's bedroom to receive
his blessing. He afterwards rose, dressed and made all happy by giving
them suitable presents and paying graceful compliments. Later in the day
was witnessed a still more interesting scene, when his pupils, of both
sexes, and doubtless to their fullest number, arrived at his hospitable
mansion to offer him their grateful acknowledgements of his kindness. A
table, close by where he sat, in a large arm chair, was covered with piles
of "horns of plenty," filled with sweetmeats, and to each he presented
one, with a small piece of silver; and these children, who needed more
substantial gifts, had but to make their wants known and they were rarely

On that day he also made calls immediately after Grand Mass, in the
extremity of his politeness carrying his hat under his arm, regardless of
the weather, with the _queue_ of his wig blown to and fro by the
wind. His arrival, as a matter of coarse, caused a social stir, often
recalled with pleasure by many afterwards.


"Oh! give me a home on that bold classic height,
Where in sweet contemplation in age's dark night,
I may tread o'er the plain where as histories tell
Britain's stout-hearted Wolfe in his victory fell."

Adjoining the expanse of table land, now known as the Plains of
Abraham, and divided from it to the east by a high fence, lies with a
southern exposure a level and well-cultivated farm - Marchmont -
tastefully laid out some sixty summers ago by Sir John Harvey, next
occupied for several years by Sir Thomas Noel Hill, subsequently owned
by Hon. John Stewart, and for more than twenty years the residence of
John Gilmour, Esquire, of the well-known Glasgow house of Pollock,
Gilmour & Co. [223] To the west, Marchmont farm is bounded by
Wolfesfield; to the south by the river heights, having a valuable
timber cove (Wolfe's cove) attached to it. The dwelling, a cheerful
and sunny residence, decks a sloping lawn, not far from the high bank,
embedded as it were in a clump of fir, ash, maple and pine trees,
which conceal it from St. Lewis road, and afford, on the opposite
side, a variety of charming glimpses of our noble estuary, the main
artery of western commerce. A spacious and richly-stocked conservatory
opens on the drawing-room to the west of the house. The embellishment
was erected by the late John Gilmour, who also added a vinery.

In the summer months, visitors travelling past Marchmont cannot fail
to notice the magnificent hawthorn hedge, interspersed here and there
with young maple, which encloses it on the St. Lewis road.

Marchmont, even shorn of its historical memories, would much interest
an observer who had an eye to agricultural pursuits carried to a high
state of perfection. The outlines and arrangements for raising cattle,
poultry, &c., are on a truly comprehensive scale.

Connected with Marchmont, there are incidents of the past, which will

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 30 of 59)