J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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while the smaller portion consisting of about forty acres and known as
Spencer Grange, belongs to and is the property of J. M. LeMoine,
President of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec.

Gen. Powell became a Colonel in the army February 19th, 1779; a Major
General, November 20th, 1782; Colonel of the 69th Foot, April 16th,
1792; Colonel of the 15th Foot, June 20th, 1794 (not April 20th, as
printed in Burgoyne's Orderly Book); A Lieutenant-General, May 3rd,
1796, and a General, January 1st, 1801. He died at an advanced age at
Lyme, England, July 14th, 1814.

Army Lists - Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 84, p. 190; Burgoyne's Orderly
Book, p. 10; Hadden's Journal; Haldimand Papers; LeMoine's Maple
Leaves, 3rd series; J. M. LeMoine's Title Deeds." (_From Gen. Horatio
Rogers' Notes on HADDEN'S JOURNAL of Burgoyne's Campaign_, 1776.)


(From the French of P. A. DeGaspé.)

"At half-past eight A.M., on a bright August morning (I say a bright
one, for such had lighted up this welcome _fête champêtre_ during
three consecutive years), the _élite_ of the Quebec _beau monde_ left
the city to attend Sir James Craig's kind invitation. Once opposite
Powell Place (now Spencer Wood) the guests left their vehicles on the
main road, and plunged into a dense forest, following a serpentine
avenue which led to a delightful cottage in full view of the majestic
St. Lawrence; the river here appears to flow past amidst luxuriant
green bowers which line its banks. Small tables for four, for six, for
eight guests are laid out facing the cottage, on a platform of planed
deals - this will shortly serve as a dancing floor _al fresco_; as the
guests successively arrive, they form in parties to partake of a
_déjeuner en famille_. I say _en famille_, for an _aide-de-camp_ and a
few waiters excepted, no one interferes with the small groups clubbed
together to enjoy their early repast, of which cold meat, radishes,
bread, tea and coffee form the staples. Those whose appetites are
appeased make room for new comers, and amuse themselves strolling
under the shade of trees. At ten the cloth is removed; the company are
all on the _qui vive_. The cottage, like the enchanted castle in the
Opera of Zemira and Azor, only awaits the magic touch of a fairy; a
few minutes elapse, and the chief entrance is thrown open; Little King
Craig followed by a brilliant staff, enters. Simultaneously an
invisible orchestra, located high amidst the dense foliage of large
trees, strikes up "God Save the King." All stand uncovered, in solemn
silence, in token of respect to the national anthem of Great Britain.

"The magnates press forward to pay their respects to His Excellency
Those who do not intend to "trip the light fantastic toe" take seats
on the platform where his Excellency sits in state; an A.D.C. calls
out, _gentlemen, take your partners_, and the dance begins.

"Close on sixty winters have run by since that day, when I,
indefatigable dancer, figured in a country dance of thirty couples. My
footsteps, which now seem to me like lead, scarcely then left a trace
behind them. All the young hearts who enlivened this gay meeting of
other days are mouldering in their tombs, even _she_, the most
beautiful of them all, _la belle des belles_ - she, the partner of
my joys and of my sorrows - she who on that day accepted in the
circling dance, for the first time, this hand, which two years after
was to lead her to the hymeneal altar - yes, even she has been swept
away by the tide of death. [231] May not I also say, with Ossian,
'Why art thou sad, son of Fingal! Why grows the cloud of thy soul! the
sons of future years shall pass away, another race shall arise! The
people are like the waves of the ocean, like the leaves of woody
Morven - they pass away in the rustling blast, and other leaves lift
their green heads on high.'

"After all, why, indeed, yield up my soul in sadness? The children of
the coming generation will pass rapidly, and a new one will take its
place! Men are like the surges of the ocean, they resemble the leaves
which hang over the groves of my manor, autumnal storms cause them to
fall, but new and equally green ones each spring replace the fallen
ones. Why should I sorrow? Eighty-six children, grand-children, and
great-grand-children, will mourn the fell of the old oak when the
breach of the Almighty shall smite it. Should I have the good fortune
to find mercy before the Sovereign Judge: should it be vouchsafed to
me to meet again the angel of virtue who cheered the few happy days I
passed in this vale of sorrow, we will both pray together for the
numerous progeny we left behind us. But let us revert to the merry
meeting previously alluded to. It is half-past two in the afternoon,
we are gaily going through the figures of a country-dance, 'Speed the
plough' perhaps, when the music stops short, everyone is taken aback,
and wonders at the cause of interruption. The arrival of two prelates,
Bishop Plessis and Bishop Mountain, gave us the solution of the
enigma; an aide-de-camp had motioned to the bandmaster to stop on
noticing the entrance of the two high dignitaries of the respective
churches. The dance was interrupted whilst they were there, and was
resumed on their departure. Sir James had introduced this point of
etiquette from the respect he entertained for their persons.

"At three the loud sound of a hunters horn is heard in the distance;
all follow His Excellency in a path cut through the then virgin forest
of Powell Place. Some of the guests from the length of the walk, began
to think that Sir James had intended those who had not danced to take
a "constitutional" before dinner, when, on rounding an angle a huge
table, canopied with green boughs, groaning under the weight of
dishes, struck on their view - a grateful oasis in the desert. Monsieur
Petit, the _chef de cuisine_, had surpassed himself, like Vatel,
I imagine he would have committed suicide had he failed to achieve the
triumph by which he intended to elicit our praise. Nothing could
exceed in magnificence, in sumptuousness this repast - such was the
opinion not only of Canadians, for whom such displays were new, but
also of the European guests, though there was a slight drawback to the
perfect enjoyment of the dishes - _the materials which composed them
we could not recognize_, so great was the artistic skill, so
wonderful the manipulations of Monsieur Petit, the French cook.

"The Bishops left about half an hour after dinner, when dancing was
resumed with an increasing ardor, but the cruel mammas were getting
concerned respecting certain sentimental walks which the daughters
were enjoying after sunset. They ordered them home, if not with their
menacing attitude with which the goddess Calypso is said to have
spoken to her nymphs, at least with frowns; so said the gay young
_cavaliers_. By nine o'clock, all had re-entered Quebec."


"Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books" - _Thomson_

When Spencer Wood became the gubernatorial residence, its owner (the late
Hy. Atkinson) reserved the smaller half, Spencer Grange, some forty acres,
divided off by a high brick wall and fence, and terminating to the east in
a river frontage of one acre. A small latticed bower facing the St.
Lawrence overhangs the cliff, close to where the Belle Borne rill - nearly
dry during the summer months - rushes down the bank to Spencer Cove, in
spring and autumn, - a ribbon of fleecy whiteness. To the south, it is
bounded by Woodfield, and reaches to the north at a point opposite the
road called Stuart's road which intersects Holland farm, leading from the
St. Lewis to the Ste. Foye highway. The English landscape style was
adopted in the laying out of the flower garden and grounds; some majestic
old trees were left here and there through the lawns; three clumps of
maple and red oak in the centre of the meadows to the west of the house
grouped for effect; fences, carefully hidden away in the surrounding
copses; hedges, buildings, walks and trees brought in here and there to
harmonize with the eye and furnish on a few acres a perfect epitome of a
woodland scene. The whole place is girt round by a zone of tall pine,
beech, maple and red oaks, whose deep green foliage, when lit up by the
rays of the setting or rising sun, assume tints of most dazzling
brightness, - emerald wreaths dipped into molten gold-overhanging under a
leafy arcade, a rustic walk, which zigzags round the property, following
to the southwest the many windings of the Belle Borne streamlet. This
sylvan region most congenial to the tastes of a naturalist, echoes in
spring and summer with the ever-varying and wild minstrelsy of the robin,
the veery, the songsparrow, the red-start, the hermit-thrush, the red-eyed
flycatcher and other feathered choristers, while the golden-winged
woodpecker or rain fowl, heralds at dawn the coming rain of the morrow,
and some crows, rendered saucy by protection, strut through the sprouting
corn, in their sable cassocks, like worldly clergymen computing their
tythes. On the aforesaid walk, once trodden over by the prince of American
naturalists, the great Audubon, whilst on a visit to Mr. Atkinson at
Spencer Wood, was conferred the name of _Audubon Avenue_, by his Sillery
disciple, the author of the _Birds of Canada. The grand river views of
Spencer Wood, are replaced by a woodland scenery, sure to please the eye
of any man of cultivated taste, accustomed to the park-like appearance of
the south of England. In front of the mansion, close to the lawn, stands
the noblest elm tree of Sillery (_Ulmus Americanus_), leafy to its very
roots. Here, amidst literature and flowers, after leaving Spencer Wood,
lived for several years Henry Atkinson, a name in those regions once
synonymous with ornamental gardens and flowers. Graperies, conservatories,
an orchid house soon sprung up under his hand at this spot, larger than
Spencer Wood had ever boasted of in its palmiest days, since 1860, it is
the seat of J. M. LeMoine.

The advent in Quebec of the great Audubon is heralded thus in the
Quebec _Gazette_ of the 23rd September, 1842: -

"To the Editor of the Quebec _Gazette_"

SIR, - It does not appear to be known to the Quebec public that one of
the most distinguished men of the present age is now on a visit to our
city - John James Audubon, the author of the magnificent work entitled
'Ornithological Biography; or an Account of the Habits of the Birds of
America, etc.' I understand that Mr. Audubon devoted nearly fifty
years of his life to this interesting subject, and has placed before
the world, at a cost of £27,000 sterling, the whole family of the
feathered tribe, giving to each its natural size, and coloured to the
very life. Mr. Audubon has brought one copy [232] of his work with
him, let as hope it may be secured by our citizens. It is his first
visit to Quebec, the splendid scenery of which has induced him to
prolong his stay a few days. His present portfolio contains several
beautiful specimens of the quadrupeds of America, now in course of
publication by him as a companion to the above splendid work, which
only requires to be seen to ensure him a numerous list of subscribers
in this neighborhood.

"In order to afford Mr. Audubon every facility in the pursuit of his
arduous and interesting undertaking, the President of the United
States and the Commander-in-Chief, General Winfield Scott, have
furnished him the necessary documents to ensure him a cordial
reception throughout the Union.

"Mr. Audubon thus speaks of his meeting on the coast of Labrador, a
British officer well known to us all in Quebec - "But few days had
elapsed, when one morning we saw a vessel making towards our
anchorage, with the gallant flag of England waving in the breeze and
as she was moored within a cable's length of the _Ripley_, I soon
paid my respects to her commander, Captain Bayfield, of the Royal
Navy. The politeness of British naval officers is proverbial, and from
the truly frank and cordial reception of this gentleman and his brave
companions in arms, I felt more than ever assured of the truth of this
opinion. On the _Gulnare_ there was an amiable and talented surgeon,
who was a proficient in botany. We afterwards met the vessel in
several other harbors.'

"The name of John James Audubon, we should hope, is quote sufficient
to ensure him a cordial welcome throughout the British dominions in
America, and we sincerely hope that his visit to Quebec may hereafter
be a source of pleasing remembrance to him.


"Quebec, Sept. 23, 1842."

(_From the Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal._)



[Translated from the French.]

One of the greatest attractions for me, says Mr. Sulte, in visiting
Spencer Grange, was its museum of Canadian birds, comprising two-
thirds of the Feathered tribe of the Dominion, with a fair sprinkling
of foreign specimens in the skin, and a collection of birds' eggs. Our
friend, long known among Canadian naturalists for his persevering
efforts during twenty years to popularize [233] the beautiful and
instructive study of ornithology, had evidently met with more than one
ally - in fact, many sympathizers. I am inclined to think - in his
special branch of natural history., Each class of birds, in this
apartment, has its corner; judging by the label, its "habitation,", as
well as name.

The thrushes and flycatchers of Canada, from their exquisite bright
tints or delicate arrow-shaped markings, are particularly conspicuous.

The cinnamon-backed cuckoo must be a graceful minstrel in our green
hedges in July, though I am ashamed to admit I never was lucky enough
to meet him. The oriole, blue jay, officer-bird, summer red-bird,
indigo-bird and golden-winged woodpecker form a group of striking
beauty; a most excellent idea, I would say, to thus place in
juxtaposition the most gorgeously habited of our feathered choristers
for the sake of contrasts.

A succession of drawers contain the nests and eggs, scientifically
labelled, of many Canadian species, and of some of the most melodious
songsters of France and England; pre-eminent stands the Italian,
French and Devonshire nightingale and its eggs. Our time was much too
limited to allow us to treasure up all the anecdotes and theories
anent birds, their mysterious spring and autumn migrations, their
lively memory of places, so agreeably dealt out to us. We cannot,
however, entirely omit noticing some curious objects we saw - the tiny
nest of a West Indian humming bird male out of a piece of sponge, and
he _cubiculum_ of a redheaded woodpecker, with its eggs still in
it, scooped out of the decayed heart of a silver birch tree, with the
bird's head still peering from the orifice in the bark. Here, as well
as in the library, the presentations were numerous: Col. Rhodes was
represented by a glossy Saguenay raven. I listened, expecting each
moment to hear it, like Poe's nocturnal visitor, "ghostly, grim and
ancient," croak out "nevermore!"

The late Hon. Adam Fergusson Blair, once a familiar of Spencer Grange,
was remembered by some fine Scotch grouse, ptarmigan and a pair of
capercailzie, in splendid feather, brought from Scotland. A good
specimen of the silvery gull, shot at Niagara Falls, was a gift from
John William McCallum, Esq., now of Melbourne, E.T. - an early friend
of our friend, whilst a very rare foreign bird (a Florida or glossy
ibis), shot at Grondines, had been contributed by Paul J. Charlton,
Esq., a Quebec sportsman. What had brought it so far from home?

At the bead of the grave, omniscient owls, like the foreman of a grand
jury, stood a majestic "grand duc," the largest owl of the Pyrénées,
resembling much our Virginian species, - a donation from a French
_savant_, Le Frère Ogérien. The owls have ever been to me a deep
subject of study, their defiant aspect, thoughtful countenances, in
which lurks a _soupçon_ of rapacity, remind me of a mayor and
town council bent on imposing new taxes without raising too much of a

A gaudy and sleek bird of Paradise had been donated by Miss Caron, of
the adjoining _château_. There was also a newly-patented bird-
trap, sent by a New York firm, in the days of Boss Tweed, Conolly,
Field and other birds of prey I noticed boxes for sparrows to build
in, designed by Col W Rhodes. On the floor lay a curious sample of an
Old World man-trap, not sent from New York, but direct from England, a
terror to poachers and apple stealers, French swords and venomous
looking bayonets, of very ancient design, a rusty, long Indian musket
barrel together with _tibiae_ and _tarsi_, labelled 1759-60, presents
from H. J. Chouinard, Esq., the owner in 1865 of the site of the
battlefield at St. Foye, where stands _Le Monument des Braves_. A
bristling-fretful porcupine, a ferocious-looking lynx, and several
well-mounted specimens of game had been donated by McPherson Le Moyne,
Esq., the President of the "Montreal Fish and Game Protection Club,"
also several other contributions from the same.

Who had sent the colossal St. Bernard dog, like another Maida,
talking over the lawn, we had not an opportunity of asking. We patted
him, all trembling.

The flower garden is laid out in the modern landscape style. Fences
carefully concealed, a deep fringe of hard wood trees on one side, a
trim lilac hedge on the other, and a plantation of shrubs, roan,
barbary, sumac, lilac and young maple. On the side west of the house
was observable, next to a rustic seat, in the fork of a white birch,
an archaeological monument made with the key-stone of Prescott and
Palace Gates when removed by order of the City Corporation, [234] it
stands about ten feet in height.

From this spot, spanned by a little rustic bridge, a walk meanders
round the property to the west, canopied by a grove of silver birch,
oak, beach, pine and maple. Along the serpentine brook, Belle-Borne,
now so diminutive, and which, according to the historian Ferland, two
centuries ago turned the wheel of a mill below, is visible a dam,
creating a small pond in May, June and July, a favorite bathing place,
we are told, for the thrushes, robins and other songsters of the
adjoining groves. This tiny runlet is fringed with several varieties
of ferns, dog-tooth violets and other algae - (_From L'Opinion


"We have many little Edens
Scattered up and down our dales;
We've a hundred pretty hamlets,
Nestling in our fruitful vales,
Here the sunlight loves to linger,
And the summer winds to blow,
Here the rosy spring in April,
Leapeth laughing from the snow."

On the western corner of the Spencer Grange property, and dependant to it,
can be seen from the road, _Bagatelle_ - a long, straggling, picturesque
cottage, in the Italian style, with trees, rustic seats, walks and a
miniature flower-garden round it; a small prospect pavillion opens on the
St. Lewis road, furnishing a pretty view of the blue range of mountains to
the north; in summer it peeps from under clusters of the green or purple
leaves of some luxuriant _Virginian_ creepers - our American ivy - which
climb round it. _Bagatelle was generally occupied by an _attaché_ of
Spencer Wood, in the days of the Earl of Elgin and Sir Edmund W. Head.

Bagatelle is a quiet little nest, where our Canadian Laureate, Fréchette,
might be tempted to pen an invitation to his brother bard of the city,
LeMay, somewhat in the manner of the soft warbler of Albion towards his
friend the Revd. P. D. Maurice:

"Where, far from smoke or noise of town,
I watch the twilight falling brown
All round a careless ordered garden,
Close to the ridge of a noble down.

You'll have no scandal while you dine,
But honest talk and wholesome wine,
And only hear the magpie gossip
Garrulous under a roof of pine.

For groves of pine on either hand,
To break the blast of winter, stand;
And further on the hoary channel
Tumbles a breaker on chalk and sand."

The poet has sometimes received as well as sent out poetical invitations.
Here is one from Water Savage Landor.

"I entreat you, Alfred Tennyson,
Come and share my haunch of venison,
I have, too, a bin of claret,
Good, but better when you share it.
Though 'tis only a small bin
There's a stock of it within,
And, as sure as I'm a rhymer,
Half a butt of Rudesheimer,
Come, among the sons of men is none
Welcomer than Tennyson?"


"Deambulatio per loca amoena." - _Frascatorius_

"Unquestionably the most ornate and richly laid-out estate around Quebec
is Woodfield, formerly the elegant mansion of the Honorable Wm. Sheppard,
afterwards of Fairymead, Drummondville. For many years past it has become
the permanent residence of the Gibb family. The horticultural department
and conservatory are under the immediate charge of Andrew Torrance, Esq.,
Mrs. Gibb's brother. His taste is too well known to require any praise,
and truly may it be said that the lovers of sweet flowers, trim hedges,
and fairy scenery, can easily beguile several hours together in exploring
the broad acres of Woodfield, equal in extent to Spencer Wood itself. In
the year 1646, the company of New France, under M. de Montmagny, conceded
this land, a lot of ground, with a frontage of three _arpents_, to
Jean Bouvart dit Lafortune. Jean Beauvart resold in 1649 to Barthélémy
Gaudin, in 1702 this land was possessed by Guillaume Pagé dit Garey. In
1724, Nicholas de la Nouiller purchased it and sold it in 1731 to
Monseigneur Dosquet, Bishop of Samos. In 1762, the seminary, then
proprietor of these grounds, conceded to Thomas Ainsley, the portion on
which stood the house, built by Bishop Dosquet. Judge Mabane acquired it
in 1769, he died in 1792, when his sister Miss. Isabella Mabane purchased
it in 1794 and held it until 1805, when the Honorable Matthew Bell
purchased it.

Let us hear on this subject one who knows how to describe and embellish a
country seat. -

"In the early part of the last century," says the Honorable Wm. Sheppard,
"this estate was in the possession of Monseigneur Dosquet, [235] titular
Bishop of Samos _in partibus infidelum_, and he gave it that name
after his Episcopal title. He built a substantial stone residence near the
brow of the hill, overlooking the St. Lawrence - a one story house - with a
high peaked roof, long and narrow, after the mode of building in those
days, something in the style of the manor house at Beauport. The name of
Samos is now superseded by that of Woodfield, yet it is still in use as
applied to the high road passing on its western side, commencing at the
termination of the road leading from Quebec in that direction, called the
Grand Allée, where it forks into the Samos road and the Chemin Gomin at
Spencer Wood. It is not known how long Bishop Dosquet occupied his estate.

"Soon after the cession of Canada to the British Crown, this property
passed into the hands of Judge Mabane, [236] by purchase, from the
reverend proprietors of the seigniory. Mr. Mabane changed the name to
Woodfield, and made extensive alterations to the house, adding to it a
second story, giving it by other additions a more imposing appearance from
the river, and adding two pavillion wings, connected with the house by
corridors. In 1775-6 it was converted into an hospital for American

"About the year 1807, the late Honorable Matthew Bell purchased Woodfield
from Miss Mabane, the Judge's sister. Mr. Bell occupied the house as a

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 33 of 59)