J.M. Le Moine.

Picturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present online

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on the sunny banks of our great river, under the shade of trees, in the
balmy spring, and amidst the gifts of a bountiful nature, to inhale
fragrance and health and joy. Pleasant, also, to wander during September
in our solemn woods, "with footsteps inaudible on the soft yellow floor,
composed of the autumnal sheddings of countless years." Yes, soothing to
us are these memories of home - of home amusements, home pleasures, and
even of home sorrows. Sweeter still, even though tinged with melancholy,
the remembrance of the departed friends, - those guardian spirits we once
saw moving in some of our Canadian homes in the legitimate pride of
hospitality - surrounded by young and loving hearts - enshrined in the
respect of their fellow men.

Oft has it been our privilege at that festive season of our year, when a
hallowed custom brings Canada's sons and daughters together with words of
greeting and good-fellowship, to wend our way to Bardfield, high on the
breezy hills of Sillery, and exchange a cordial welcome with the venerable
man who had dwelt in our midst for many long years. Seldom has it been our
lot to approach one who, as a scholar, a gentleman, a prelate, or what is
more than all those titles put together, a truly good man, impressed
himself more agreeably on our mind.

Another revolution of the circling year and the good pastor, the courteous
gentleman, the learned divine, our literary [240] friend and neighbour,
the master of Bardfield, had been snatched from among us and from an
admiring public. Where is the Quebecer who has not noticed the neat
cottage on the north of the St. Lewis road, where lived and died the Lord
Bishop Mountain? As you pass, you see as formerly its lovely river view,
gravelled walks, curving avenue, and turfy lawns, luxuriant hedges
designed by a hand now cold in death. Bardfield continues to be occupied
by Miss Mountain and other members of the late Bishop's family. A school
house, in the rural Gothic style, quite an ornament to Sillery, has been
erected by His Lordship's family, as a memorial of the sojourn at this
spot of this true friend of suffering humanity and patron of education.

Bardfield, founded about forty years ago by an eminent merchant of Quebec,
Peter Burnet, Esquire, was recently purchased by Albert Furness, Esquire
and by him leased to Charles Earnest Levey, Esquire, until Kirke Ella, the
property of Mr. Levy, is rebuilt.


The family of Mountain, which is a very old Norman family, and
therefore of French extraction, originally wrote their name "de
Montaigne," from the name of their estates at Périgord, near Bordeaux,
and as stated in the life of one of its members, the well-known
Michael Seigneur de Montaigne, the essayist and philosopher, "This
race was noble, but noble without any great lustre till his time,
which fortune showed him signal favours, and, together with honorary
and titular distinctions, procured for him the collar of the Order of
St. Michael, which at that time was the utmost mark of honour of the
French _noblesse_, and very rare. He was twice elected mayor of
Bordeaux, his father, a man of great honour and equity, having
formerly also had the same dignity."

Michael left only a daughter - Leonor or Leonora, who by marrying a
distant cousin of the same name, preserved the estates in the family,
as they had been for more than a century before they were inherited by
her father. These remained in possession of the senior branch until
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, when, having espoused the
Protestant cause, they were forced to sacrifice them and quit the
country in 1685, with what ready money they could hastily get
together. With this they purchased an estate in Norwich, England; from
which in after generations several of the family went out to Canada,
and among them the late Bishop of Quebec.

To him, likewise I have heard attributed the irreverent piece of wit
alluded to by the _Witness_; but with equal injustice, as his son, the
late Bishop of Quebec assured me. [241]

It is one of those sayings evidently made up for people whose names or
position suit for hanging them on.

George Mountain, D.D., Archbishop of York, was a contemporary of
Michael de Montaigne, and a scion of the same family, though through a
younger branch, which appears to have crossed over from France about
the time of the massacre of St. Bartholomew in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, and for the same reason that the elder branch did
afterwards, namely, because of their religious tenets.

It is not by any means improbable that by this separation from the
rest of his family, who were still adherents of the Roman Catholic
faith, and the consequent abandonment of worldly prospects for the
sake of religious principles, the Archbishop's progenitors may have
been reduced in circumstances, but only comparatively with what he had
lost before, for history shows that the Archbishop himself was, born
at Callwood Castle, educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, chosen a
Fellow in 1591, and Junior Proctor of that University in 1600, Dean of
Westminster in 1610, Bishop of Lincoln in 1617, Bishop of London in
1621, Bishop of Durham in 1627, and Archbishop of York in 1628.


Formerly of Coteau de Lac, Canada, now Vicar of Bulford, England.
BULFORD VICARAGE, Amesbury, Salisbury, May 30, 1877.


We like to portray to ourselves our energetic neighbour of Benmore House,
such as we can recall him in his palmy, sporting days of 1865; we shall
quote from the _Maple Leaves_ of that year:

"It will not be one of the least glories of 'Our Parish,' even when the
Province will have expanded into an empire, with Sillery as the seat of
Vice Royalty, to be able to boast of possessing the Canadian, the adopted
home of a British officer of wealth and intelligence, known to the
sporting world as the Great Northern Hunter. Who had not heard of the
_battues_ of Col. Rhodes on the snow-clad peaks of Cap Tourment, on
the Western Prairies, and all along the Laurentian chain of mountains? One
man alone through the boundless territory extending from Quebec to the
North Pole, can dispute the belt with the Sillery Nimrod, but then, a
mighty hunter is he; by name in the St. Joachim settlement, Olivier
Cauchon, to Canadian sportsmen known as _Le Roi des Bois_. It is said, but
we cannot vouch for the fact - that Cauchon, in order to acquire the scent,
swiftness and sagacity of the cariboo, has lived on cariboo milk, with an
infusion of moss and bark, ever since his babyhood, but that this very
winter (1865) he killed, with slugs, four cariboo at one shot, we can
vouch for.

A few weeks since, a _habitant_ with a loaded sleigh passed our gate;
on the top of his load was visible a noble pair of antlers. "Qui a tué -
ces cariboo?" we asked. Honest John Baptiste replied, "Le Colonel Rhodes,
Monsieur." Then followed a second - then a third. Same question asked, to
which for reply - "Le Colonel Rhodes, Monsieur." Then another sleigh load
of cariboo, in all twelve Cariboo, two sleighs of hare, grouse and
ptarmigan, then a man carrying a dead _carcajou_, then in the distance,
the soldier-like phiz of the Nimrod himself, nimbly following on foot the
cavalcade. This was too much, we stopped and threatened the Colonel to
apply to Parliament for an Act to protect the game of Canada against his
unerring rifle. Were we not fully aware of the gratifying fact, that,
under recent legislative enactment, the fish and game of Canada have much
increased, we might be inclined to fancy that the Colonel will never rest
until he has bagged the last moose, the last cariboo in the country.

Benmore nestles cosily in a pine grove on the banks of the great river,
the type of an English Country gentleman's homestead. In front of the
house, a spacious piazza, from which you can watch the river craft; in the
vast surrounding meadows, a goodly array of fat Durhams and Ayrshires, in
the farm-yard, short-legged Berkshires squeaking merrily in the distance,
rosy-cheeked English boys romping on the lawn, surrounded by pointers and
setters: such, the grateful sights which, greeted our eyes one lovely June
morning round Benmore House, the residence of the President of the Quebec
Game Club, and late member of Parliament for Megantic." (Written in 1865.)


Sixteen years have elapsed since these lines were penned, and the Colonel
has devoted much time, spent a large amount of capital on his vegetable
farm and his green houses. Agriculturalists and naturalists will know him
as the introducer of the English sparrow and the Messina quail.


Information for Mr. Lemoine on the importation of the European house
sparrow and on that of the migratory quail. In consequence of great
complaints all over the United States of the ravages of insects and
particularly of caterpillars, amongst street and park trees and their
visible destruction, it was generally recommended to girdle the trees
with tin troughs containing oil or some liquid, also to pick the
insects off the infected trees. This course had been followed to a
very considerable extent, when it struck me the importation of the
common house sparrow would meet the difficulty. In 1854 I imported
sparrows. I turned loose six birds at Portland, Maine, and brought
about as many more to Quebec.

On turning the birds loose at Portland, I wrote a letter to the
_Portland Advertiser_, recommending the English sparrow as an
insect destroyer, especially in the early spring months when the
native birds are away on their migrations. This idea of picking off
insects with birds commended itself to the municipal authorities of
Boston and other large cities, who made large importations of
sparrows, with the result of saving their ornamental trees from

The first colony of sparrows failed at Quebec. I therefore made two
more importations, succeeding at last by wintering over thirteen birds
- This occurred about ten years ago, there are now house sparrows all
over Canada, our French Canadians say "_C'est un oiseau qui suit la
Religion_" frequenting churches, convents and sacred places, and it
is considered a privilege to have so good a bird about the house. The
sparrow lives readily in Canada, as it feeds on the droppings of the
horse and takes shelter down the chimneys or under the roofs of the
houses. The enemies of the sparrow are very numerous, notably the
great Northern Shrike, the owls, hawks and in summer the swifts and
swallows. I have seen the English sparrow from New York to St.
Francisco, and from the Saguenay to Florida. In some places the bird
is used as an article of food, and there is no doubt this will be the
case generally; it will also become an object of sport for young
shooters and trappers in America, the same as it has always been in


I imported this bird in 1880, turning loose over 100 birds between
Quebec and the river Saguenay, I cannot say what has been the result;
the French population have taken much interest in this importation,
because they understand it is a bird well known in France as La
Caille, and I have no doubt it will become quite numerous in our
French settlements wherever it is established.

Large numbers of migratory quail have been imported for the State of
Maine, 2,500 birds were turned loose in 1880, in all about 10,000
quails have been imported for the United States and Canada during the
last few years, and as no importations are being made this year we
shall see what the migratory instinct does for the North in the spring
of the year?

It is very certain the migratory quail leave for parts unknown at an
early period in the autumn, but where they go to and whether they
return to the north has not been established; whilst they are with us,
they are very friendly, frequently mixing with the chickens in the
back yards. It is not improbable the feeling which gives hospitality
to the house sparrow will extend itself to the Farmer's Quail, and
that the latter bird may receive the same treatment from the settler
as he gives to ordinary domestic fowl, such as Pigeons, Guinea fowl,
and so on. - _W. Rhodes_.

BENMORE, 4th February, 1881.

N.B. - The house sparrow has indeed multiplied amazingly and though an
emigrant and not "un enfant du sol" has found a hearty welcome. 'Tis
said that he scares away our singing birds, if he should thus
interfere with the freedom of action of the _natives_, he will get the
cold shoulder, even though he should be an _emigrant_.

The sparrow though a long suffering bird is neither meek nor
uncomplaining. A "limb of the law" is, we are told, responsible for
the following:


(_To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle_.)

DEAR SIR, - Oft, doubtless, passing through the Ring,
Me you have seen in autumn, summer, spring -
Picking, with gleesome chirp, and nimble feet,
My scanty living from the public street;
Or else devouring in those golden hours,
Insects from cabbages and other flowers: -
Ah me! those happy days! - but they are past,
And winter with his harsh and biting blast
Remind me and my fellow-sparrows bold
Of coming snow-storms, ice and sleet and cold;
Reminds us, too, of those far-off abodes,
Whence we were rudely reft by Col. R - - s,
On his acclimatizing purpose bent,
And moved by scientific sentiment,
My heart is anxious, Sir, from what I know
Of last years sufferings from cold and snow,
Another winter's hardships, will, I fear,
Cause us poor colonists to disappear.
What shall we do, Dear Sir? - how shall we live,
Unless our charitable townsmen give
Us aid in food and shelter, otherwise
Each of us young and old, and male and female, dies!
Could we not make our _friend_ our _Garnishee_,
And seize his chattels by a _tiers saisi_?
(I tell him, Sir, that living mid the frosts
Is harder far than paying _lawyers' costs_)
Or do you think, (I write in great anxiety,)
We have a claim on the St. George Society?
We are compatriots - an exiled band,
From the fair pickings of our native land,
Cast on this frigid shore by savage Fate,
With mouths to fill, and bills to liquidate.
Dear Sir, I leave our case now with you, pray
To make it public do not long delay,
But give it, (I don't mean to be ironical,)
A prominent position in the CHRONICLE.
My wife and children cry to me for corn
With feeble earnestness and chirp forlorn,
My eye is dim, my heart within me pines,
My claws so numb I scarce can scratch two lines,
My head - no more will I your feelings harrow,
But sign me,
Truly yours,
Till death,
All Souls' Day. COCKSPARROW.



"A house amid the quiet country's shades,
With length'ning vistas, ever sunny glades,
Beauty and fragrance clustering o'er the wall.
A porch inviting, and an ample hall."

Claremont was founded by Lieut.-Governor R. E. Caron, and was his family
mansion - ever since he left Spencer Grange which he had temporally
leased, - until he was named Lt.-Governor of the Province of Quebec. We
find in it, combined the taste and comfort which presides in Canadian
homes; and in the fortunes of its founder, an illustration of the fact,
that under the sway of Britain, the road to the highest honours has ever
been open to colonists, irrespective of creed or nationality.

Claremont stands about one acre from the main road, three miles from
Quebec, a handsome, comfortable and substantial villa. The umbrageous
grove of trees which encloses it from view, is a plantation laid down by
the late occupant about twenty-five years ago; its growth has been truly
wonderful. The view from the veranda and rear of the house is magnificent
in the extreme. To the west of the dwelling, environed in forest trees
well protected against our northern "blizzards," lies the fruit, flower
and vegetable garden, laid out originally by Madame Caron; watered by an
unfailing spring, its dark rich soil produces most luxuriant vegetables,
and Mr. Beckett's phlox, lilies, pansies, roses, generally stand well
represented on the prize list of the Quebec Horticultural Society, of
which Mr. Beckett is a most active member.

Claremont [242] is indicated by one of the most reliable of our
historians, the Abbé Ferland, as the spot where one of the first Sillery
missionaries, Frère Liégeois met with his end at the hands of some hostile
Indians. This occurred in the spring of 1655. The missionary at the time
was helping the colonists to build a small redoubt to protect their maize
and wheat fields from the inroads of their enemies. On viewing, at
Sillery, in 1881, Claremont the luxurious country seat of a successful
merchant, memory reverts to the same locality two centuries back, when
every tree of the locality might have concealed a ferocious _Iroquois_
bent on his errand of death.

From the cupola of Claremont, a wondrous vista is revealed. The eye gazing
northward, rests on the nodding pinnacles of the spruce, hemlock and
surrounding pine. Towards the south-east and west you have before you
nearly every object calculated to add effect to the landscape. Far below
at your feet, rushes on the mighty St. Lawrence, with its fleet of
merchantmen and rafts of timber; the church of St. Romuald, half way up
the hill; facing you, the Etchemin stream, its mills, its piers, crowded
with deals; to the west, the roaring Chaudière, "La Rivière Bruyante" of
early times, in the remote distance, on a bright morning, are also plainly
visible, the hills of the White Mountains of Maine.


"Everywhere about us are they glowing,
Some like stars, to tell us spring is born;
Others, their blue eyes, with tears o'erflowing,
Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn."

Are you an admirer of nature, and sweet flowers? Would you, most worthy
friend, like to see some of the bright gems which spring, whilst dallying
over the sequestered, airy heights and swampy marshes of our woods drops
along our path? Follow, then, sketch book and pencil in hand, the fairy
footsteps of one of the most amiable women which old England ever sent to
our climes, accompany the Countess of Dalhousie on a botanizing tour
through Sillery woods; you have her note book, if not herself, to go by.
For May, see what an ample store of bright flowers scattered around you;
fear not to lose yourself in thickets and underbrush; far from the beaten
track a noble lady has ransacked the environs over and over again,
sometimes alone, sometimes with an equally enthusiastic and intelligent
friend, who hailed from Woodfield; [243] sweet flowers and beautiful ferns
attract other noble ladies to this day in that wood. Are you anxious to
possess the first-born of spring? Whilst virgin snow still whitens the
fields, send a young friend to pluck for you, from the willow, its golden
catkins: -

"The first gilt thing
Decked with the earliest pearls of spring."

The Gomin Wood will, with the dawn of May, afford you materials for a
wreath, rich in perfume and wild in beauty. The quantity of wild flowers,
to be found in the environs of Quebec has called forth the following
remarks from one of Flora's most fervid votaries, a gentleman well known
in this locality: - "A stranger," says he, "landing in this country, is
much surprised to find the flowers which he has carefully cultivated in
his garden at home, growing wild at his feet. Such as dog-tooth violets,
trilliums and columbines. I was much excited when I discovered them for
the first time; the _trillium_, for which I had paid three shillings
and six-pence when in England, positively growing wild. I could scarcely
believe that I had a right to gather them; having paid so much for one, I
felt that it was property, valuable property running wild, and no one
caring to gather it. No one? Yes! some did, for _we_ carried all that
we could find, and if the reader will stroll along the hedges on St. Lewis
road he will find them in abundance: dark purple flowers, growing on a
stalk naked to near the summit, where there is a whorl of three leaves,
its sepals are three, petals three, stamens twice three, and its stigmas
three, hence its name of _trillium_. We have a few of the white varieties.
After the purple _trillium_ has done flowering, we have the painted
trillium of the woods; the _trillium grandiflorum_ is abundant at Grosse
Isle. The dog-tooth violet early arrested my attention; the spotted leaves
and the bright yellow flowers, fully recurved in the bright sunshine,
contrasted beautifully with the fresh green grass on the banks on which
they are usually found, the bulbs are deep-seated, and the plant will at
once, from the general appearance of the flower, be recognized as
belonging to the lily family.

"The marsh marigolds, with the bright yellow buttercup-looking flowers,
are now in full luxuriance of bloom in wet places near running water; they
may not be esteemed beautiful by all, and yet all God's works, and all his
flowers, are good and beautiful. Let any one see them as I have seen them,
a large flowerbed of an acre and more, one mass of the brightest yellow, a
crystal stream meandering through their midst, the beautiful Falls of
Montmorenci across the river rolling their deep strains of Nature's music,
the rising tide of the St. Lawrence beating with refreshing waves at their
feet, and a cloudless azure sky over head, from which the rosy tints of
early morn had hardly disappeared, and if his soul be not ready to
overflow with gratitude to the Supreme Being who has made everything so
beautiful and good, I do not know what to think of him. I would not be
such a man, 'I'd rather be a dog and bay the moon.'"

The whole Gomin bog is studded with Smilacina _Bifolia_, sometimes
erroneously called _the white lily of the valley_, also the Smilacina
_Trifolia_, the _Dentaria_, the _Streptopus roseus_ or twisted stem, a
rose-colored flower, bearing red berries in the fall. There are also in
this wood, _trillium_, the May flower, _Hepatica_, and _Symplocarpus_,
thickets crowned with _Rhodoras_ in full bloom - a bush a few feet high
with superb rose-colored flowers - the general appearance of a cluster of
bushes is most magnificent. In the same locality, further in the swamp,
may be found the _Kalmia angustifolia_ bearing very pretty compact rose-
colored flowers like small cups divided into five lobes, also the
beautiful Ladies' Slipper Orchis (_Cypripedum humile_) in thousands on the
borders of the swamp, - such is Sillery wood in May. The crowded flora of
June is the very carnival of nature, in our climes. "Our Parish" is no
exception. The Ladies' Slippers, _Kalmia Smilacina_, etc., may still
be gathered in the greatest abundance throughout most of this month. Here
is also the bunch of Pigeon berry, in full bloom, the Brooklime Spedwell,
the Blue-eyed-grass, the herb Bennet, the Labrador Tea, the _Oxalis
Stricta_ and _Oxalis acetosella_, one with yellow, the other with
white and purple flowers: the first grows in ploughed fields, the second
in the woods. "Our sensitive plant; they shut up their leaves and go to
sleep at night, and on the approach of rain. These plants are used in
Europe to give an acid flavor to soup." Here also flourishes the Linnea
Borealis, roseate bells, hanging like twins from one stalk, downy and
aromatic all round. In the middle of June, the Ragwort, a composite flower
with yellow heads, and about one-half to two feet high, abounds in wet
places by the side of running streams. Also, the Anemone, so famous in
English song, principally represented by the Anemone Pennsylvanica,
growing on wet banks, bearing large white flowers; add the Corydalis,
_Smilacina racemosa_ resembling Solomon's Seal. Here we light on a lovely
Tulip bed; no - 'tis that strangely beautiful flower, the pitcher plant

Online LibraryJ.M. Le MoinePicturesque Quebec : a sequel to Quebec past and present → online text (page 35 of 59)